Should W&L change spring term?

Melinda Kauffman

Washington and Lee is unique in the sense that it has two full semesters and then a spring term of one class for four weeks. Spring term is a chance to take a class that interests you, though it may not pertain to your major. For some students, it is an opportunity to go abroad and learn in a setting other than W&L. Although there are many positive things about spring term, I am going to argue that maybe it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

This is my second time taking a spring term class at W&L, and I can’t say that it has been as amazing as I thought it would be. Last year I took a Theater Special Effects class. It was a lot of fun because the class consisted of designing and creating props for theatrical performances.

Although the class was a great way to relieve some stress, I cannot say I learned a whole lot. Outside of this class, I did not have any homework and constantly had to find ways to entertain myself. I am by no means complaining about the light schedule, but it would be nice to spread out the burden of winter term, rather than have a super stressful and busy winter and then a super light spring term.

This spring term, my class is going to involve more homework and reading, which I am excited about since I will actually have something to keep me occupied. But it is still not up to the caliber of a regular semester at W&L.

The nature of spring term is to only concentrate on one class for four weeks. But, I would almost rather have two longer semesters where the workload is spread out over a greater amount of time, rather than have two jam-packed semesters and then one shortened semester.

It almost feels like school is over and I am at summer camp, being held against my will, when all I would like to do is get a head start on my summer plans like the rest of my friends at other universities.

I do not know what the best method of revising the dilemma is, but maybe this is an issue that could be discussed by the student body further. I am not sure if other students feel the same way, but especially being a spring athlete, I am limited to staying on campus for spring term, which makes it a little less appealing.

I think that a potential solution to this juxtaposed semester load would be to follow a traditional two-semester schedule like most universities and colleges. This however, would completely eliminate a spring term, which is a very appealing aspect to prospective students. Another option would be to keep

spring term, but require students to take more than one class, thus alleviating some of the burden from winter or fall terms. By taking more credits during spring term, students would not be forced to take so many credits during the regular semesters, thus allowing them to spread the burden of coursework more evenly.

This may not work either, because even two classes are a lot in four short weeks, but it is something that could be discussed. Even if one of the classes was a one or two credit class, this could potentially work.

So while I am not ready to kick spring term to the curb, I am interested in hearing other students’ opinions about spring term, and whether or not there is a way to make it better than it already is. I love spring term, and it is one of the reasons I chose W&L, but I can’t help but feel there is a better method out there.