Update to J-Term Policy

Illustration by Joaquin Kunkel

New J-Term Course Selection Process

New J-term process yields mixed responses.

Starting in fall 2016, students are supposed to complete a January Term application on a new point-based system. This system, wherein classes and students are allocated a certain number of points, is designed to accomplish the same results as the previous J-Term allocation process and will still respect the student’s wish list. Students are supposed to apply by listing their seven preferences instead of six, as was the case in previous years.
Each course is given a point value based on the popularity of its location and whether the course fulfills a Core curriculum requirement. Classes have point values between one and seven. Abu Dhabi-based J-Term classes are worth two points whereas those with international trips are worth four points. Paris, Buenos Aires and Sydney are worth the highest number of points — six. The specific class in Paris scheduled for January 2017, Fascism, Antifascism and Culture, is worth seven points because it is also part of the Core curriculum. Apart from New York and Shanghai, which are worth four points each, other global locations are worth five points each.
Students have different point budgets depending on a variety of factors, including the number of J-Terms previously completed abroad as well as their class year. According to the J-Term Frequently Asked Questions, students who have had two classes in Abu Dhabi that do not count for a Core curriculum class have the most points number of points — 35. Students who have already had two J-Terms in global locations, three J-Terms in total and at least one J-Term class that counts as a Core curriculum class have the fewest points — 16. Everybody else’s points are between 16 and 35.
The new system has sparked conversations among students, both on social media and on campus. Junior Maria Vogel said that the application process was simple to follow, but felt restrictive:
“From the perspective of the university, the changes make sense. But our choice is more limited now. I was shocked that a course featuring an international trip will be considered a J-Term abroad for us upperclassmen.”
Previously, classes based in Abu Dhabi with international trips did not count as J-Terms abroad apart from a few exceptions.
Senior Sarah Hassan agrees with Vogel, voicing that the new system might force students to take classes out of their areas of interest.
“Watching from the sidelines I think that the students are constricted by the rules not previously communicated, especially rules regarding Core classes,” said Hassan, who is not taking a J-Term herself. “These changes make students settle for classes they are not particularly interested in,” says Hassan.
On the other hand, freshman Melinda Demirović says that the J-Term system is fair to freshmen:
“We were always aware that we will have one J-Term in Abu Dhabi, one in Abu Dhabi which includes a trip and one J-Term abroad. I think that it is a fair system — many upperclassmen were promised a possibility of two J-Terms abroad, but ended up with one only. At least we know for sure what our options are,” said Demirović.
Kristina Stankovic is News Editor. Email her at feedback@thegazelle.org.
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