Jan Term in June will not be offered this summer, but is it gone forever? Only time will tell.
(Image c/o writer)
By Chloe Ourada
American Journalism Student
An expected drop in demand has led Saint Mary’s College to abandon June Jan Term courses. This has led to some disappointment amongst students and professors, but if the funding model gets worked out and students demonstrate interest, Jan Term in June may not be gone forever.
According to Professor Claire Williams, the current Jan Term Director, Jan Term in June “was an opportunity for students to take a Jan Term class who have missed a Jan Term class, or haven’t successfully completed a Jan Term class.” This was especially important under the previous graduation requirements, since students needed four Jan Term classes in order to graduate. Now, only two Jan Term classes are required.
As Connor McCaslin, the Coordinator for Jan Term Travel, states, “Because of the change in the core requirements, [the new Jane Term requirements] did not allow much in the way of interest [for Jan Term in June].” He went on to say that the college has a “general problem with all summer enrollment.”
This general problem is compounded for Jan Term in June travel courses. As Professor Aaron Sachowitz, the former Jan Term Director, sees it, “Travel was attractive to students, but it was expensive.” Students already have to pay extra for summer courses, so paying additional money for travel fees is not a realistic option for many. This view is mirrored by Ingrid Alkire, a senior who took a remote Jan Term in June course: “Sometimes, I feel like [the college is] just trying to squeeze as much money out of us as possible.”
Money seems to be one of the sticking points for Jan Term in June. According to Williams, the college fully intended to offer Jan Term in June courses in 2023. However, she says, “We tried to think through the funding structure and realized that we couldn’t make it work. We didn’t think students would be interested if they had to pay that much.”
Perhaps that is why the Jan Term in June classes in 2022 were so successful. Sachowitz recounts, “In 2022, we expanded the Jan Term in June program, partly to provide opportunities for students who weren’t able to utilize those travel opportunities in Jan Term.” This came after years of Jan Term travel classes getting canceled because of Covid. For the first time ever, Jan Term in June was open to alumni. The Jan Term in June program was able to repurpose unused scholarship money from canceled Jan Term travel classes and provide many alumni with discounts. But this funding model can no longer be utilized moving forward.
So the future of Jan Term in June relies on money as well as student interest. Sachowitz says, “Hopefully, there will be enough student demand to have another Jan Term in June in the future.”
This hope is reflected by professors and students who have participated in Jan Term in June. Professor Derek Marks, who has taught a June course in Australia, reflects, “It was a 100% positive experience. I was happy to give an opportunity to students who weren’t able to travel in January… I’m sad to hear they’re not offering it this year.” Angelina Fleming, a student who took Marks’s Jan Term in June course, also expressed disappointment in the program ending. She theorizes that Jan Term in June is “not used to its fullest potential. A lot of people didn’t even know about traveling in June.” This lack of knowledge is possibly related to the lack of demand for these courses.
As Williams eloquently sums up, “If we could get the funding model right, travel in June opens up different types of opportunities that students can’t get in January. It does seem like a little bit of a missed opportunity for students, but I don’t know… If [students] see Jan Term purely as a graduation requirement, even if the funding model was right, they wouldn’t be interested. If they see it as an opportunity to explore new and different things, then maybe there would be a possibility for something there.”
Madison Sciba '24,