Intersession scheduled at wrong time of year

Following the decision to switch to semesters, the University needed to revise the dates of its academic calendar. As part of the new schedule, the University will offer an optional, intensive period of study called the intersession. However, the placement of the intersession at the end of the regular school year ignores the benefits of a traditional J-term — a term similar to the intersession that most universities place in January rather that after the spring semester. The University’s plan for intersession is an inefficient allocation of time that should be reconsidered.
Students will spend the same number of weeks in the classroom under the new semester schedule as they did under quarters. However, the academic year will begin and end three weeks earlier; winter break will remain three weeks long. The spring semester will be followed by a one-week break and then the three-week intersession available to all students. But for students who enroll in the intersession, the length of summer vacation will be reduced by four weeks.
This is one reason why most universities find it efficient and practical to place their J-terms between the two semesters. Normally three weeks long, a J-term usually falls during a winter break lasting four weeks, thereby allowing students who enroll in the session a vacation that still accommodates both Christmas and the New Year. In addition to ensuring that no students suffer a reduced summer vacation, a J-term offers many opportunities.
The most obvious opportunity, primarily for those who choose not to enroll in the J-term, would be a four-week long winter break lasting until the end of January. Winters in Minnesota are the most brutal weather conditions any student or faculty member experiences at any university. Since many students would only enroll in the J-term between one and three times during their undergraduate careers, they would not have to attend school every year during January. January is the coldest month in Minnesota, with high temperatures averaging 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Many of the roughly 45,000 students and 15,000 staff would appreciate it if school were not in regular session during this time.
Another important opportunity available with the J-term session is the development of short-term study abroad programs, which have become important components of an undergraduate education. The University could develop three- or four-week programs for travel or intensive language immersion to help students meet their various requirements. These programs would be more convenient for students because travel prices, especially airline tickets, are much lower during winter than at any other time of the year.
Placement of the intersession between semesters would benefit the University community. If the University were to shift spring semester back one or two weeks, a J-term of three to four weeks could be offered after the New Year. All students would still have a three-and-a-half-month summer break during which they could work or take summer classes, but would also have the opportunity to avoid a Minnesota winter. A J-term will work for students who want a period of intensive study as well as those who do not. The only way the intersession differs over a J-term is warm weather outside the classroom window. The University should adopt this more common schedule.