By CHADWICK CARTER – STAFF WRITER
For much of the year, students at Centre divide their time between school, social life, athletics, and occasionally, sleep. Apparently it’s quite stressful. In the fall and spring semesters, the average student takes four academic classes. This means, within a given day, the already-cluttered student brain is forced to switch between several modes of thinking for each class, and then again when doing homework. During CentreTerm, however, our brains gleefully gorge themselves on just one subject. This is a key advantage of CentreTerm: students can focus on one subject and be fully invested in it. In the wise words of Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”
Junior Dexter Horne appreciates the level of depth achieved through the intensive study that CentreTerm encourages. “You get a chance to really engage the material,” Horne said. “You would still get a good chance to engage in the regular term, but you may have to share a lot of your time and excitement between three other courses and not give that one the full attention it deserves.”
Other students also enjoy the focused approach the time structure CentreTerm allows.
“You can dedicate all of your attention to one class,” sophomore Regan Devlin said. “As an English major I like being able to spend all of my time reading for an English class.” Devlin’s CentreTerm class, “Flannery O’Connor,” certainly permits this. The class consists of reading and discussing the work of celebrated short story author and novelist Flannery O’Connor.
Devlin also enjoys the various creative and specific classes available only during CentreTerm. “Teachers have more freedom with their course selections, and it’s interesting to hear about what everyone else is learning,” Devlin said.
This freedom that professors have in choosing their CentreTerm extends to the student population as well. “In the past two years, I’ve taken classes outside of my major, and CentreTerm has given me a month to explore subjects that I otherwise would not have taken the time to sit down and explore,” Horne said.
CentreTerm is a great time for students to embrace their liberal arts education and take classes that may have absolutely nothing to do with a possible future career. It’s a refreshing break from the potential disenchantment of many similar classes.
CentreTerm also helps Centre claim the treasured and much-emphasized 85 percent study-abroad rate. Studying abroad for a full semester is not possible for everyone for a variety of reasons: athletics, major requirements available only in certain semesters, obligations at home, etc.
The opportunity to spend three weeks abroad instead of an entire semester is enticing to many students. “I might study abroad for a semester later, but I’d study abroad for CentreTerm first,” first-year Tyler Dawson said.
Additionally, the study abroad destinations are different for CentreTerm than for a full semester and expand student choices.
CentreTerm has plenty of great qualities: a dedicated focus on one class, nontraditional classes, and increased options for students to branch out academically and geographically. It’s no surprise that many other schools adopt a similar “January term” or “interim term” in other months with special opportunities for students. One college information website lists over 100 colleges and universities in the United States that offer this type of experience. Taking this idea even further are block plan colleges, one of which is Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colo. At this college, the school year is divided into eight blocks, each about three weeks long, in which students take one class. Essentially, a year at Colorado College is eight CentreTerms in a row.
While this is a fascinating idea, it would not necessarily work at Centre. CentreTerm works how it is: a focused and intensive, opportunity laden month that can give the whole campus a little more vigor during the dreary mid-winter slump. A CentreTerm potentially results in more time spent in class than during a regular semester due to the amount of time spent each day in class. A regular semester class meeting three hours a week for twelve weeks is 36 class hours. CentreTerm classes meet three hours a day for up to sixteen days: 48 hours. It’s a rare and important opportunity to dive in and fully immerse oneself in a class.
All that time in class, every day, can also build comradery in the class.
“We have actually gotten strangely close as a class. I remember last year was the same,” Devlin said. “I feel like you get to know the teacher a lot better too.”
When you meet with the same twenty or thirty people every day and learn a subject interesting to almost all these people, it is inevitable that people are going to have a great time and get to know each other and the professor. This is the epitome of the small school experience that Centre champions.
CentreTerm embodies many of the things that make students love Centre. A strong academic focus, the ability to connect with students and professors, possibilities to study abroad: these are things that Centre is known for, and CentreTerm packs them all into three weeks. Without CentreTerm, many students may not study abroad, or may not learn about, for example, different configurations of wind turbines. Whatever any particular student gains from CentreTerm, the fact stands that there is a lot to be gained. It’s a staple of Centre life that should stay that way for students in the future to enjoy.