Graphic by Joaquín Kunkel/The Gazelle

New J-Term Policy

A change in this year’s January Term policy stated that students would only be allowed to take up to two core classes over their total J-Terms, and ...

Sep 19, 2015

A change in this year’s January Term policy stated that students would only be allowed to take up to two core classes over their total J-Terms, and that these must be in different categories. Students also need to submit an academic rationale justifying their attempt to take the second core.
Sophomore Alex Matters was frustrated by this new policy because it prevented him from taking the classes he was most interested in this J-Term, as he was placed into a core class last year.
“Last J-Term I was placed in a [Structures of Thought and] Society core class, whose subject interest was not of much interest to me,” said Matters. “But this year, I am really interested in [the core classes offered], but the policy won’t allow me to take them. My options are heavily limited so I really have no option because I need to finish my graduation requirements too.”
Louis Plottel, a senior who is majoring in Arab Crossroads, faces a similar problem.
“I am not aware if any other department on campus has this but in Arab Crossroads, you can only do one ACS elective during J-term, which can be an impediment to your plans sometimes,” commented Plottel.
Of the 58 classes offered this J-Term, many of the Abu Dhabi-based courses include regional trips to countries such as Greece and Armenia. While students could previously enroll in these courses and not have them count to their abroad J-Terms, Vice Chancellor for Global Education Carol Brandt explained that the policy has since changed.
“We will begin to offer more courses that are based in Abu Dhabi that have a substantive international component. Starting with the class of students entering in fall 2016, [and] made explicit in our admissions materials and presentations this year, the Abu Dhabi-based courses with international seminars will count as one of the J-Terms abroad," she wrote to The Gazelle.
While chances of going abroad for freshmen may seem low, many upperclassmen have already completed their first J-term abroad. According to statistics by the Office of Global Education, 86 percent of students applying for J-terms were placed into their top three choices last year.
Brandt assured current students that they would have the opportunity to take up to two J-term classes at Global Network University sites.
“The recent budget [adjustments] have had no impact on J-terms. The main problem lies in the increasing student body and finite resources present in the GNU sites,” wrote Brandt.
Freshmen applying for J-Terms this year can run into unanticipated difficulties in the process. For Candice Shu Zhou, J-Term was only a subject decoratively used to describe NYUAD global education in the university’s brochures and admissions speeches. Now, making the decision to study abroad, take a core or a general elective has put pressure on those trying to sketch out their academic plans.
“I filled the J-Term application as soon as it was released, but as the deadline came closer I kept changing it. I think I updated my application around 20 times,” said Zhou.
Zhou intends to stay in Abu Dhabi for her first J-term. On the other hand, freshman Filip Karan found the application to be much more limiting than what he thought previously.
“I didn’t know J-Term applications were so competitive and, as freshmen, the chance for us to study abroad would be so slim. But wherever I am placed, I want to use this term to explore the social sciences,” said Karan.
Karma Gurung is deputy video editor. Email her at
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