The J-term conundrum: Get a hard class over with, or take the easy way out?





For Augustana students, the month of January is either a time of relative ease or one of intense, concentrated pain. Learning a semester’s worth of material in less than thirty days can be daunting depending on what kind of class one is taking.

This prompts a question: Should you take the credits you are given during J-term and make a valiant attempt to complete a difficult class that is required for your major, or should you find a relatively slack class and use the month to recharge?

Such a question is difficult to answer, and answers are likely to vary. This being said, let me offer up another proposition: If you were going to be tortured for whatever reason, would you prefer to have such torture spread out over a long time, or would you prefer to have all torture performed in one, short period of time?

Unless you are fond of sadomasochism or just sadism in general, your answer to the previous question is to get all possible pain out of the way in one short burst. This logic could also apply to what kind of class you would prefer to take for J-term.

Case in point, I have spoken with several students with science-related majors, many of whom are taking chemistry over this J-term. While this will require a plethora of homework done on a nightly basis, some students have said that this is better than being forced to worry about taking such a chemistry class during the regular semester when they will have the coursework from several other classes to worry about as well.

Of course, taking a challenging and/or a useful class during J-term does not necessarily require a gung-ho example such as taking a full semester’s worth of chemistry in less than a month. I know I would have a difficult time surviving such an ordeal.

I, for example, am taking a Francophone African Cinema course. On one level, this is a difficult course with a large amount of reading covering everything from African cultural studies to the Brechtian/Marxist influence on several of African filmmakers.

However, I enjoy reading about this topic, making it much less of a chore, and the class will also serve as a credit I can use toward my French minor. If you opted to not take an extremely difficult class, hopefully you found one that will be of use to you later.

While it should not be required that you make your month of January miserable by taking an unbelievable difficult class, that may not be a bad idea if you consider how much easier doing this will make the subsequent semesters.