What is “January Term?”

January term refers to a shorter study period that some colleges now offer. Many colleges follow a set schedule that allows students to take off near the middle of December and before Christmas. Those students will need to come back right after New Year's for the winter semester. Some schools offer a shorter term that takes place at the beginning of January. Students have the option of taking one class that interests them during this term or staying home and coming back for the spring semester.

How Long Does it Last?

The traditional college semester lasts for around 16 weeks. It starts near the beginning or end of one month and ends around four months later. January programs are much shorter in duration. Most colleges offer this term at the beginning of January or near the middle of the month. It typically lasts for between 10 and 14 days, though some programs are a little longer. Those who skip this session will come back near the end of the month to prepare for the start of the spring semester, which will last for a full 16 weeks.

What Can Students Study?

One of the best features of this program is that it allows students to study something that interests them but may not fit within their study plans or career goals. Colleges use this term to provide students with more art classes. Students can take painting, sculpture or ceramics without worrying about earning credits. The term also allows students to focus on one specific subject at a time. Many students take more difficult classes during this term because they know that they can focus all their energy and attention on that one topic without any of their other classes or commitments getting in the way.

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Is Travel Required?

While the January term takes place on campuses across the country, this is also when many schools offer study abroad opportunities. Those who sign up for a study abroad program will have the chance to spend a few weeks studying in another country and still make it back in time for the spring semester. Study abroad students will need to make travel arrangements. Some schools make those arrangements for students. The schools will announce plans for an upcoming trip and allow students to sign up and put down a deposit. All students in the program will travel overseas and back together as a group. Typically, credits are offered for these study abroad experiences.

Are There Any Benefits?

The Huffington Post points out that one of the biggest benefitsofo the J-term is that it gives students more free time. Students can study on the campus but still have time to hang out with their friends or work a part-time job. This term also gives students the ability to do an internship without worrying about fitting their work schedules in around their class schedules. Those who opt to skip this term will have the chance to recharge their mental batteries and take a break from studying before getting back to work.

Some colleges in the United States offer a J-term that gives students the chance to do an internship, study on campus, do an internship or enjoy a longer break at home or abroad. Many students find that the January term allows them to take fun classes or more difficult classes and still have lots of free time.