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University of Maine offers winter session courses to ease course load amid virtual semester

Winter is fast approaching, and with it comes the exciting opportunity to take classes over the winter break. The winter session is an integral part of the University of Maine’s Think 30 program, which seeks to remind students to try and take 30 credits per year, in order to reach the required 120 to graduate within 4 years. Every year, UMaine presents students with the opportunity to keep their degrees on track by taking a winter session class or use the opportunity to get ahead in their course load. These classes are three credit courses that take place over a three week period. With this in mind, these courses move at an accelerated pace and present work that needs to be completed with due diligence. Students are expected to dedicate 30-40 hours a week for winter session classes. With these classes comes several pros and cons Melissa St. Peter, a fourth-year early childhood education student explains.

“I have taken two different winter courses at UMaine [which are ECO 190 and PSY 100], both of which I felt were very manageable during the shortened winter session,” St. Peter said. 

“One of the main positives of these courses has been to boost my GPA as it’s easy to just focus on a singular course and dedicate time to succeed. It is also nice that the grade is counted towards your spring GPA as that is the semester I have the most trouble with. There are a nice variety of courses to help cover various [general education requirements] so that’s been a help when I couldn’t fit them in my fall or spring schedules.” 

Even so, St. Peter says that during the regular school year she finds herself feeling burnt out. Sometimes she feels that going straight from the fall semester into a winter course can be challenging because there is no break, and then the spring session begins right after the winter session is completed. 

Another issue she encountered with the winter courses is the content of what is being taught. 

 “I feel there is a lack of depth in material. I never feel I learn or absorb as much as a regular semester, it feels more like regurgitation of information than actually learning” St. Peter said.

 St. Peter’s experiences with these classes capture the positives and negatives that come with them. The winter session classes can help ease the potential burden of the spring, but don’t provide a ton of mental rest. The class is over a shorter period of time, but the content is more crammed, and can seem rushed. The challenge to these classes is avoiding becoming overwhelmed, which can lead to potential burnout and greater stress. But, as third-year marine science student Sam Burgess stated, “it was really great that the credits count for spring, and I think that will help me in the long run.”

Winter session courses will be available for signup soon. Please get in contact with your advisor if they are of interest to you. The full course list for the winter session is available on UMaine’s website.

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