For many students, winter break evokes excitement for holiday celebrations, hometown family and friends, and most importantly, a break from the stress of academia. This winter break, some students found themselves discussing topics like microeconomics or social inequality while continuing their studies through a Winter Session course.
Winter Session begins in Dec. 27 and run until Jan. 16. Winter courses are designed for any student, whether they are looking to catch up, get ahead, or take a lighter spring semester. With 30 courses ranging from Astronomy to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, there are many options for students to choose from.
All Winter Session courses are conducted online through Blackboard, leaving flexibility for the student to decide when and where to do their work. While some classes have a live lecture component, most are conducted through pre-recorded lectures, discussion boards and exams.
During the fall and spring semesters, a course’s content is spread out over 15 weeks. Since Winter Session is only three weeks long, the university suggests students be prepared to spend 30-40 hours per week on coursework.
Nina Mahaleris, a third-year journalism and international affairs student, thinks Winter Session offers not only an opportunity to continue studying, but also a chance to try a different form of education.
“I think WS [Winter Session] and online courses provide students with a better sense of independence when it comes to learning,” Mahaleris said. “Completing assignments and exams are entirely the responsibility of the students, the only difference is the timeframe is much more intense, and there isn’t a physical class to attend where the professor can remind students about their upcoming due dates.”
Like many students, Mahaleris found herself taking an online course to stay caught up on her degree progress. Winter Session provided her with an opportunity to stay on track while taking a more difficult course load.
“Although I’ve been at the university for three years, I’ve still got quite a bit of work to do before graduation. This is actually the first time I’ve ever done a winter session, and I’m really enjoying it,” Mahaleris said. “I think it’s important that the university continually offers WS and summer session, because their current system, the ‘Think 30’ program that encourages students to take 15 credits per semester, isn’t realistic for everybody. All students come from different financial backgrounds, study abilities, and it isn’t always possible or wise to take full course loads each semester.”
Despite being a wonderful opportunity for many, a winter course may not be suitable for every student’s schedule. For those attempting to juggle the workload, some students taking winter classes have found many ways to stay organized and on track.
One way to keep the Winter Session essays and exams in order is through the use of a daily planner. While this is a reliable organizational tool during the regular semester, it is particularly helpful while attempting to balance the change of environment, as well as the unexpected distractions that accompany being home.
Another asset in staying on track is a cell phone. While it can be a window into an unmeasurable amount of distractions, it can also be good for setting reminders which help dedicate specific parts of the day to coursework.
A great way to stay motivated and productive is by taking the course with a friend. Whether they live in the same house or across the country during winter break, having someone to study with, ask questions, or bounce ideas off is a great source of motivation.
Winter Session courses may not be for everyone. Those who are balancing many responsibilities over break may find themselves overwhelmed. Next winter, it might be best to take your schedule into consideration when determining whether a winter course is the right option for you.