Interim offers flexibility for a busy schedule

Stefan Jacobson

As the semester winds down and students prepare for finals, others are gearing up for interim courses with the potential to expedite graduation, but interim may also be overwhelming and ineffective. Winter interim is a three-week period during which classes are offered for three hours each weekday. This winter interim runs from Jan. 4-22. The strategic scheduling of interim courses was well-thought out, making interims user friendly for students who are looking to complete more credits within the semester. Interim courses are considered to be a part of the previous semester, meaning that as long as students do not exceed 15 credits during the 14-week semester, interim courses come with no additional fee. Because students gain flexibility while managing their course loads, it is easier to graduate on time. Students who take advantage of spring and winter interim courses throughout their college careers can potentially shave more than one semester off the time it takes to earn a degree. The best use for an interim course is to account for some of those “useless” classes that inevitably work their way into general education requirements. “I would recommend taking graduation requirements that maybe don’t interest you as much over an interim,” former UWO student Nicole Sepe said. “I took physics and speech during interim semesters and never regretted the decision.” While interim courses are a great asset to students, they do not come without their drawbacks. When selecting an interim course, students should keep in mind that course material for an entire semester is crammed into a three-week semester. This means that valuable experience and information may be lost in the shuffle, especially in classes pertaining to one’s major. Political science professor Druscilla Scribner said interim classes are structured differently. “There are things I don’t do in a short course, a 25 page research paper for example, because they would be inappropriate for the time frame,” Scribner said. “And there are other things that I do that I couldn’t do in a regular semester such as application-focused, project- based learning in the classroom.” Despite the best intentions of students, it is not always possible to digest the coursework quickly enough to really learn the material and retain it. This can force students to focus on keeping up with deadlines, making learning the material a secondary priority to passing. Scribner said her experience during interim classes is students simply do not put the same time in that is theoretically required for the course. “For every hour in class, students should generally be devoting two hours to studying, reading, researching etc.,” Scribner said. “That means students should spend a great deal of time on their interim course outside of class time, which they simply don’t do. Students are working and trying to balance other activities with their course work, so students struggle with covering material much more quickly than they are used to in the regular semester.” If students can manage to budget their time wisely, then interim classes are worth consideration. The benefits in cost and time potentially outweigh the academic disadvantages. Although the courses cut into break, three weeks of academic rigor is a small price to pay in the long run.