In a mere week, students will find themselves in a place all of them have been undoubtedly counting down the days to: winter break. Finals, papers, projects and capstones will be completed and turned in, and a month away from class responsibilities will be upon them. But for students wanting to get ahead in their studies, winter break also offers the opportunity to take intersession courses.
K-State’s intersession classes begin Jan. 2 and compress a semester’s worth of information and coursework into a two-week period. And while that may sound like a lot of work over a short period of time, it’s a great opportunity for students to get ahead in their coursework, fit in a special interest course or reduce their course load in the spring.
“It’s nice to lighten the class load when students are taking difficult classes, like Calculus,” Jo Maseberg-Tomlinson, academic program coordinator for continuing education, said. “It’s also nice if you had to drop a class in the fall.”
Maseberg-Tomlinson said there is a plethora of classes available, from the courses needed to meet K-State 8 requirements to courses that may meet students’ interests, such as Wildland Fire Management. Courses are offered both in person and online.
“We have some classes that count for things everybody needs, like geography,” Maseberg-Tomlinson said. “But we also have different classes for different majors. Whether you’re an architecture student or a marketing student, there’s something for you.”
Intersession courses are available three times a year, in January, May and August. The benefit of taking winter intersession courses in January, however, is that they not only count towards spring enrollment hours, but they can also be paid for with student financial aid.
Sometimes, intersession offers an opportunity to take a course that is not offered at other times of the year.
“In May [intersession], architecture does a special problems class, leading up to a competition at the end of the year,” Maseberg-Tomlinson said.
Maseberg-Tomlinson said there are also typically special courses in family studies, American ethnic studies and baking that are not available during normal K-State sessions.
Intersession also allows for special guest lecturers to come in from other colleges and universities, since they are able to visit without abandoning the classes they normally teach.
“That’s a neat opportunity, to have other professors come in,” Maseberg-Tomlinson said.
Megan Reynolds, senior in Spanish, took advantage of a winter intersession class in acting techniques last year that provided her with the opportunity to learn from a guest professor from BYU Idaho.
Reynolds said it was wonderful to get to learn from a guest professor, since that kind of opportunity isn’t usually available during regular sessions. Overall, Reynolds said her experience with intersession classes was great, even though it was a lot of work.
“It’s great to focus on just one class,” Reynolds said. “It’s really intense. You basically don’t do anything else. But it’s nice because you don’t have to balance other things. I think most people improve their performance on [intersession] classes.”
Reynolds did warn, though, that intersession classes, while great for helping to get ahead, can be tough.
“If you have to work, you can’t work as much as you’d think you can,” Reynolds said. “You spend almost every day in class, and they’re longer. It’s very intense.”
On the plus side, according to Reynolds, a community forms when students spend so much time together.
“You kind of bond with the other students in the class because you’re all just doing that,” Reynolds said. “We had study parties. We were all doing the same thing and didn’t have time for anything else.”
Reynolds also said she felt the intensity of the course helped her learn content better.
“I honestly think you retain [information] better, because you spend so much time on it,” Reynolds said.
Pamela Hartley, junior in marketing, is looking forward to her first experience with winter intersession in January. She’s taking Relationship Marketing and said she is glad to be getting one of her electives out of the way.
“My break was going to be super boring,” Hartley said. “If I’d stayed here over break [without taking a class], I would have gone crazy.”
Hartley said intersession classes are great for anyone who is looking to get ahead in their coursework.
“If you really need need that extra step to graduate, you can take up to six hours,” Hartley said. “It can lesson your load in the spring if you are getting ready to graduate.”
Both Hartley and Maseberg-Tomlinson agreed that one of the main cons of intersession courses is that they prevent students from being able to travel in January, but Maseberg-Tomlinson had one optimistic point for those who are concerned about being prevented from traveling.
“Students often say they like January intersession because they can take intersession classes and still make the bowl game,” Maseberg-Tomlinson said.
While Maseberg-Tomlinson, Hartley and Reynolds all said intersession courses are very rigorous, Maseberg-Tomlinson made certain to point out that even though the courses are very intense, students shouldn’t let the intensity scare them off. Even if something comes up during the course that makes it hard for the student to complete his or her work, Maseberg-Tomlinson said, faculty are always happy to work with that student as long as they are informed of what’s going on.
K-State is offering about 50 intersession courses in January, and a full listing can be found at dce.k-state.edu/intersession/upcoming.