For the first time in school history, Jacksonville University offered a winter term this year. The term began Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, and ends Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. More than 40 online classes are being offered, and course selections include core, advanced and graduate classes.
The new winter term was made possible by the shifting of dates for fall and spring semesters. The decision to end fall semester before Thanksgiving and start spring semester in late January was originally intended to help curb the spread of COVID, but it also opened a six-week window in the school calendar. Filling this break with a condensed, fully online winter term provides benefits to faculty and students alike and is, at the very least, a positive development in a year dominated by health concerns.
“One silver lining was the development of the winter term,” said Jacksonville University Provost Christine Sapienza. “Faculty looked at the academic schedule, and they agreed to participate in a winter term, and they were OK with it all being online… And we said let’s do this for students. Let’s give them an opportunity to repeat courses or maybe catch up on courses.”
Faculty will be compensated for the additional instruction time, and students can use winter term to retake a class, catch up or get ahead in credit hours. Using the term to take an additional class can also allow students to lighten spring course loads without impacting graduation dates. According to Jacksonville University Vice Provost Sherri Jackson, winter term proved quite popular, and enrollment far exceeded expectations.
“We have 940 undergraduate enrollments in the winter term,” Jackson said. “We were originally hoping for 600.”
Due to the overwhelmingly positive response to this inaugural winter term, JU will now be offering a winter term every year. According to Dr. Jackson, the calendar proposal was voted on by full-time faculty in November. Prior to that vote, it was approved by the planning and budget committee.
“Faculty like the idea of altering the fall term so that it will always end before Thanksgiving,” Jackson added. “They think this will lead to better outcomes for students on their fall final exams, and faculty and administration also believe that having this additional term in the schedule will positively affect student outcomes and graduation rates.”
Take a look at how these students have been preparing for their winter term. When asked to use TikTok to create a personal introduction video for their all-virtual, winter term special topics class, this is the creative result. Enjoy!