Get a load (three credit course) of this | Academics

The Iowa State Campanile photographed after heavy snowfall.

The finals warrant a well-deserved break, but the university offers a new opportunity that asks students not to give up on their academic goal just yet.

The Iowa State University winter semester is a four-week semester that allows students to take up to three credit hours. All courses are offered in an online format and are a flat-rate tuition fee per credit.

Beate Schmittmann, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, worked alongside faculty on the winter semester planning committee to provide this opportunity and its many benefits to students.

“For a student who is comfortable making the time, this is a great opportunity to create some space in their schedule later, or potentially find an opportunity to graduate a bit more. early, ”Schmittmann said.

“Most of the students who signed up last year were juniors and seniors who were sort of trying to get an extra class.”

There are 54 elective courses for this winter term, ranging from introductory courses to 300 and 400 level courses. When deciding which courses to offer in the winter term, the committee took two things into account. : Last year, he revealed that students prefer higher level and general education courses.

“Is there a good registration, is this a course that is popular with students, will students take this particular course to meet general education requirements, is it a level course?” 300 or 400 in a major major that we imagine students have in their best interest in taking this course, ”Schmittmann said.

The planning committee for the winter session was diligent in their planning and recognized the time constraints. To ensure that the courses were useful in the education of the students, the committee limited the students to three credits.

In a 15-week semester, the university estimates that a three-credit course will require six hours of work per day. Schmittmann estimates that the winter session will require around three hours of work per day.

While the lack of time is intimidating, the outcome of a winter semester course can be wonderful. Feedback from students and faculty has been positive as they said they felt they had achieved all of their course goals.

“Because it was so compressed and because the students were only focusing on one class, the students seemed more engaged,” Schmittmann said.

Teachers also take advantage of the winter session because it gives them more flexibility in their schedules. Some teachers have had the option of teaching one course during the winter semester and one less during the spring semester. Teachers could also keep the same spring course load and add a winter term class for additional compensation.

While the planning and logistics for the winter session are well thought out, Schmittmann explained that this year is still an experiment.

Schmittmann explained that the students are excited to travel and work again this year. The number of registrations is down compared to last year, but could be different again next year, making the winter session difficult to plan. However, Schmittmann was convinced that the four-week, three-credit format would become the norm.

“We anticipate this will be a regular feature of the ISU calendar,” Schmittmann said.


Beate Schmittmann, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

A permanent winter semester in the ISU calendar would also mean a permanent shift from the spring semester by one week. While the schedule for the winter semester is unlikely to change, it’s unclear whether the online format will ever pass in person.

“I can never say never… The impact is so much bigger. Now we’re talking about keeping the residences open, keeping more mess halls open, you know, there’s a whole infrastructure that keeps students on campus.

Another logistical decision to consider is the ISU’s IT system infrastructure.

“One thing I learned and it’s quite funny is that our computer systems really weren’t designed to accommodate an extra session, which is why we have this awkward way that you have to sign up for the winter semester when you register for spring courses, ”Schmittmann said.

Last year, some students mistakenly registered for winter semester courses rather than spring semester courses. Other students struggled to figure out how to register for winter courses.

Nonetheless, with humble improvements to be made, the winter semester is a great opportunity for all students. The planning and logistics to make the winter sessions work is a monumental task that goes unnoticed behind the scenes.

“I certainly encourage all students to check out the winter semester schedule and see if there is a course they might be interested in enrolling in,” Schmittmann said.

The last day to add or drop a winter semester course without needing to contact an advisor is December 22. More information can be found on the winter session site.

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