Spring fever anyone? I know I have it. As students at colleges around the country depart their campuses, we continue till the middle of June. Some may be in the full swing of summer courses as we begin final exams. Besides how excruciatingly difficult it is to sit down and study when the weather is beautiful, there are several logistical reasons why it makes sense for Lawrence to consider an alternative academic calendar. I believe a 4-1-4 calendar (semester—interim January term—semester) would suit a school of our nature very well, actually enhancing our learning experience. First, an interim (J-term) would allow students tenuous about missing a term for off-campus ventures to have that opportunity. Oberlin College and St. Olaf, schools of similar size and nature, use this system. Second, off-campus programs offered only in the spring become less appealing when faced with the decision to do a program or miss two terms at Lawrence. Third, telling potential summer employers that you can’t be there until June 15 puts us at a distinct disadvantage. Fourth, athletes that play a fall sport are especially shorted on their summer vacation. Since other schools start at the end of August or beginning of September, so too must our athletes report to campus at that time. That’s about a month less vacation, a month’s less money earned, and a disincentive to play fall sports. Fifth, most classes, especially lab classes, might appreciate having a few extra weeks in a semester to learn difficult material. I would guess most people would prefer 14 weeks to learn Organic Chemistry rather than 10. Finally, let’s be honest, for those of us left at home in September, it can get a little boring as we resort to spending many a night watching back-to-back reruns of “Frazier” and “Friends.”
The Lawrence Difference should not include getting out of school a month later than everyone else. A 4-1-4 calendar allows for the same number of classes within a logical time frame and added benefits to students, faculty, and staff alike.