We are fresh out of J-term, and back in full swing of spring semester. With the month of either a class, studying abroad, playing sports, working, or doing absolutely nothing, it is hard to think of what it would be like if that were changed. I’ve heard the debate before: May term would be so much better than J-term. I started off writing this article as team J -term all the way, but by the end, I decided to switch teams because the number of pros outweighed J -term’s. While Gustavus won’t be changing this any time soon, as many professors aren’t in favor of May term, it seems that for students, May term is the MVP.
Let’s establish this concept of having a “month” off first. I think we all can agree that we like having a longer break to be able to tone it down a little and do fun college-kid things, even if it still entails one class. Being able to have a little break, yet still be engaged, is a good balance. “I like J-term because I don’t have to deal with classes and hockey at the same time, and it is nice to have a break between semesters,” Junior Mitch Munson said. On the flip side, the concept of J-term is foreign to state school kids, and most of the general public. Because we have this advantage, it causes a disadvantage to those who choose not to take a J-term once we finish our two credits, and go home. This past month I spent my time at home doing absolutely nothing, which was great, until my friends were done with break, and I was the lone college kid left. Once touring week hit, I had been on break so long that I was asked by someone if I dropped out of college. At that point, I hadn’t read a scholarly article in so long, that it felt like I did. People either like, or don’t like J- term. For all those who like the concept, moving it to May just might make it even better.
Moving J- term to May term opens up a lot more opportunities for students to jump into the summer. May term would be good “for the students that need to start internships and jobs earlier,” said Junior Lauren Lowe. Many companies are looking for interns, or entry level employees, right out of the school year. Because we get out later than most schools, it can be the deciding factor between a Gustie and another candidate who can start in May. Being able to start an internship earlier also allows for extra experience to be gained. While we can still get internships during J-term, three weeks versus three months is a huge difference in potential experience to be gained. Studying abroad during J-term, while it is fantastic to get away from the Minnesota cold, many more students would be able to do this if it were moved to May due to less conflict with winter sports, and would be more inclined to study abroad. It makes for an easy transition to study abroad in May, and then turn it into a fun summer vacation.
Last, moving the month off from January to May would improve some of the “little things” that we don’t realize are super important to us. First, when we have a break from school, odds are we don’t want to spend it inside doing nothing. This is very hard to prevent when it is -30 degrees outside and our cars aren’t starting. Amazingly enough, this wouldn’t be a problem if it were moved to May. Instead of looking out the window to see mountains of snow and students bundled up, we would potentially see Spike Ball, hammocks, and recognizable students because they aren’t wearing five layers. Not only would it improve our break quality, “May term allows us to get out so much earlier,” Munson said. We all know the feeling of looking on Instagram and seeing all of our other friends out of class, when we are still sitting in the lib studying for finals. While the longer winter break felt great at the time, this is the payoff.
Lastly, “we wouldn’t be missing as many students at graduation whose graduate programs start before we graduate,” said Senior Quinn Andersen. Going through four years of windy walks to class, difficult finals, love life issues, and all the other college struggles feels pretty anticlimactic if those students aren’t walking with our graduating class. While yes, they still graduated, it isn’t as special if it isn’t with the peers they’ve spent the last four years of their life with.
By this time, you may still be on team J-Term, switched to May Term, or simply are torn. There are pros and cons to both sides, but ultimately, this concept of getting to further our education and life experiences is one we shouldn’t take for granted, or turn our nose up on because of when it occurs.