With January fast approaching, Jan Term Director Claire Williams discusses the program’s changes and clarifies Jan Term requirements for juniors and seniors. Students share their positive Jan Term experiences, but raise concerns about the lack of refunds.
(Image c/o writer)
American Journalism Student
From transitioning to Carnegie units and reducing Seminar requirements to a website redesign and launching new certification programs, Saint Mary’s has undergone many changes in the past few years, and Jan Term is no exception.
A recent program review by the Core Curriculum Committee found that the core was “oversized and getting in the way of students graduating,” Jan Term Director Claire Williams explained. After many hard conversations, “the faculty decided to reduce the size of the core,” Williams stated. As a result, Jan term requirements were reduced.
“Students now only have two required January Term[s],” which translates to taking a “100 level course in [their] first year [and a] second one [...] sophomore, junior, or senior year,” Williams explained. However, Williams notes that “[t]his year’s graduating seniors and this year’s juniors have three January Term requirements.”
Williams furthered that juniors “must take Jan Term this year,” though they can opt out senior year, while seniors may opt out of Jan Term completely if they have already completed three Jan Terms. However, “[Students] cannot get [their] money back if [they] opt out [of Jan Term],” Williams stated, though she notes that the cost of Jan Term was “always included in tuition.”
Despite no longer being required for seniors, Williams still encourages them to take a Jan Term. “[It’s] a uniquely Saint Mary’s opportunity [for students] to take a course that’s not in their major or minor,” Williams stated.
Olivia Bianic ‘24 weighed in on the Jan Term and described her experience positively. “[I took] artsy, fun Jan Terms [that were] a nice break from a heavy curriculum,” Bianic stated. This year, Bianic will be traveling abroad to Italy and France for a Jan Term on Christian art. “I’m more introverted, [so it’s] harder for me to connect with people in a new place,” Bianic noted. To Bianic, Jan Term “[is the] perfect amount of time to experience a new culture” without the commitment of a whole semester abroad.
When asked to comment on the absence of Jan Term refunds when students opt out, Bianic stated: “If you're paying for an experience and opting out of that experience, that’s unfair.”
“I understand those funds have already been paid, but I think they should go to covering spring semester [...] maybe they don’t have to refund it to the student[s] completely, but it still should be funding our education,” Bianic reflected. “[This is] a new change, people have already paid their semesters, it's not fair to give us the choice now,” Bianic furthered.
Sarah Bagdon ‘25, who will be traveling to South Korea this Jan Term, aired similar sentiments. “If a student is not taking a class here in January, why should they still pay [for it] as if they are? I would almost consider it robbery…,” Bagdon stated. “I believe that Jan Term should be an extra cost outside of tuition,” Bagdon continued.
Bagdon also disclosed that as a freshman she had to “transfer out of the Jan Term that [she] had originally enrolled in because they failed to inform students of extra course costs in the course info page, but other than that, [she] actually really loved my Jan Term experience.”
To learn more about Jan Term requirements, offerings, and scholarships, students should consult the Jan Term website and meet with their advisors to determine the best plan for their individual needs.
Madison Sciba '24,