J-term deserves to be mourned

Catherine Rainey, News editor

Christmas break is over. Students moan with dread over the thought of a fresh semester to match the fresh snowfall. They can smell the stress ahead.

But wait — it’s only J-term! With hours of free time every day, the ability to focus on one subject at a time and some seriously incredible travel opportunities, what more could a student want before the business of spring semester sets in?
It’s the perfect time to ease back into a school routine after the season of Christmas parties and Netflix binging ends. (Okay, so maybe not the Netflix thing).

With a new academic schedule right around the corner, I think it’s time we properly mourn the passing of the J-term at Mercyhurst. It’s been a great but short-lived three years. My personal J-term history includes having the chance to learn about the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, discussing social problems on a global scale and learning the art of ‘adulting’ professionally (i.e.: how to land a job). It has helped me knock out some core classes, determine a minor and absorb some handy life skills, all in compact, three-week periods. I know the requirement for J-term was to take two of them in four years, but I found myself coming back each time.

Though I was not personally able to study abroad during J-term, many of my friends and classmates have taken advantage of these one-of-a-kind opportunities. This January alone, nearly 150 Mercyhurst students were able to travel the globe, visiting places including Peru, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Italy and Greece, and Germany and Switzerland. In many cases, these adventures were the perfect way to escape the Erie gloom and ice for a few weeks—not to mention making documentaries, visiting ancient ruins or kayaking through the Amazon.

A common criticism of J-term is the three-hour classes every day. I admit, sometimes this can be rough, but I’ve found that most professors are willing to give students a break or two during class. In the big picture, this seems like a con that is outweighed by the list of pros. For those students who really couldn’t stand J-term, here was the great part: it was partially optional.

As we say goodbye to this rare term, let us remember the good times (like sleeping in everyday if you were lucky enough to avoid an 8 a.m., or venturing outside to build an impromptu igloo) and hope for the best as we move into a new semester system next fall.