Students to lose 10 days from January break

Next year, Castleton students will experience a very different academic schedule, specifically during the 2015 spring semester.  

In past years students have enjoyed their month-long break to work, reunite with family and friends, relax and celebrate the holidays.  Next year, however, the break will be cut down by more than a week.  The start of the 2015 spring semester will begin on Jan.11, 10 days earlier than the starting date of the 2014 spring semester.   

“There were really four reasons for the idea to change it.  One was that the president felt that there was too big a break between fall and spring.  I think he was concerned that when students are away that long they can lose their focus,” said Academic Dean Tony Peffer.  “Number two was that it lets us have graduation a week earlier.  The thought was that the sooner graduation comes, the sooner our students can get on the job market.”  

Peffer said the third reason is more institutional.  

“We do a lot of conferences and events in the summer and camps.  And they can’t really get started on those until the residence halls close,” he said.  

And the final reason has to do with mirroring local school breaks, so that faculty and parents at Castleton are home with their families, instead of having to hire a babysitter for an entire week, he said.
With this change comes the removal of January term, but an addition of a May term, as well as the possible benefits or repercussions to winter sports.  For many students, January term has been a time where one can focus on a single class, usually a requirement for a frame, and gain three credits toward their spring semester.  

The quiet atmosphere and the lack of distractions have provided students with an ideal time to obtain a quality grade in the class.  Now that January term has been removed, some wonder if May term will result in similar benefits.
Zach Currier, a senior and recent January term student, commented on the new change.
“I personally don’t think that (May term) will work, based on the time of year.   I think having it in May is inconvenient because it is just one more obstacle before the summer,” he said.  

Jonathan Siebarth, a freshman at Castleton, offered a different perspective.
“Yes, because I can stay that long. I can’t come back early to do January term, but I can stay longer after the end of exams to go home” he said.
But will the new spring schedule affect winter sports?  Previously, winter sport’s athletes would have almost three full weeks to practice and compete without the distraction of classes or people.  Team bonding and intense focus on their quality of performance occurred, athletes say. With this new schedule, however, the teams will only receive a week of uninterrupted and undistracted play time.  

Currier, also a former men’s basketball athlete, argued that there would be no negative affect.  

“I don’t think so because when there’s nothing else going on it’s hard to maintain a schedule.  When a student has an 8 a.m. class the next morning, they are more likely to go to bed early, but when all you have is practice and games, you could be staying up until 3 a.m.,” he said.    

And Peffer said a shorter break may be better for athletes and the school.
“There are a lot of games, hockey and basketball especially, where the attendance is really poor because all the students are gone,” Peffer said. “If we start earlier there will be crowds.”

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