Winter courses: Students left underwhelmed and stressed

posted in: Opinion | 0

Currently during winter term, there are 86 courses being offered, many of which are travel, chemistry research and senior research courses. This leaves the rest of the classes up for grabs to students who want to get a required credit out of the way or to explore an interest.

Winter courses are designed as two credit courses because of our four-credit system. Faculty members begin planning what courses will be taught almost a year prior to winter term.

“Each department puts together a schedule for each year, including winter term, that takes into consideration lots of things,” said anthropology professor, Sarah Phillips. “What the faculty wants to teach is one thing, what courses need to be offered to provide a quality education is another. What courses are needed by students that year and what courses the department might want to try out as a test run for future inclusion in majors or programs.”

Phillips as well as other faculty members claims  to try to change up the type of classes offered each year. More travel classes have been brought to attention as well as increasing civic engagement courses.

English professor Mike Steele remembers teaching a class during winter term that is no longer offered anymore.

“Professor Lee and I team taught the history/lit of the Holocaust for many years starting in 1982 or so,” Steele said. “I stopped teaching the big Holocaust class because the only room available had terrible acoustics, but also because I wanted to focus on a more in-depth treatment of the material.”

Classes during winter term are a great way for faculty to have the opportunity to teach what they’d like and for students to explore courses, but like fall or spring semester, trying to register for the classes students want can be problematic.

The courses fill up quickly especially for underclassmen, leaving the amount of classes offered not satisfying to students and the variety not wide enough to please all interests.

It’s always a pain when the first course choice fills up, then the second, then the third and even the fourth. It strains my eyes watching the availability numbers drop lower and lower.

As a freshman, Taylor Baker has found it very difficult to find a class she wants to take because, “[freshman are] stuck with the leftovers that have nothing to do with our major or core requirements.”

Baker spent more time than necessary on the computer during the morning of her registration because the website was down due to the large amounts of students that were trying to register for classes at that time.

“So many people were on it that I didn’t get into the class I wanted even though it said there were still eighteen spots left,” Baker says.

On the other hand, many students have had great experiences, putting them one step ahead. It all depends on what the student’s interests are, and how many courses are offered in their area of interest.

As for faculty, they all wish that more students would take advantage of the opportunities winter term has to offer.

“We try really hard to anticipate students interests and needs,” said Phillips.“It would be great to offer more courses, especially the kinds of experimental courses that can only happen in that context.”


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