Interterm strains students, professors

Story by Mykaela Cross, Assistant Editor

Take an interterm class as a bridge to get you prepared for classes after winter break, they said. It’ll be a fun way to enjoy a course that doesn’t necessarily have to be within your major, they said. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

At the beginning of the fall 2014 semester, when my professors’ syllabi began to contain a new definition for the credit hour system, I began to panic. It became apparent to me that if we followed the rules, it would mean a ridiculous amount of outside-of-class homework. I had no idea what I was truly in for.

Following the new credit hour guidelines seemed fair enough during the semester, but then interterm hit and the rug was pulled out from underneath my feet. I’ll admit, I’m usually a student who takes more than 16 credit hours and juggles other on and off-campus activities, so I figured that a 2-credit-hour course on Shakespeare (a subject that as a literature major I live and breathe) would be a walk in the park. I could not have been more wrong.

As we walked in the first day, the professor of the interterm course gave us a warning that things were not going to be easy for us. Because of the new credit hour requirements, I was looking at, on average, five hours of homework a night after my 3-hour class.

Before interterm was over, my classmates and I had read one Shakespearean play a night as well as a scholarly article, and then wrote a 2-page reflection before we met for class. After all the reading, writing and presentations were said and done, we’d managed to critically evaluate 14 or 15 different Shakespearean works.

Did I love the subject matter? Yes. Did I love the work load? Not so much.

After hearing about other courses, it sounds like my peers and I were not the only ones to be slammed with a semester’s worth of work in two weeks. Over and over I found myself asking, “What on Earth were we thinking?”

Now don’t get me wrong, I used to be excited for interterm. As a fan of the program and its ideals, I don’t want to bash a program with intentions that I support full-heartedly, but if interterm is an idea we as a college want to continue for its intended purpose, changes are needed.

I don’t blame the professors, particularly my interterm professor. Not only did he make the subject interesting and go about introducing us to its content in interesting ways, he did so with a smile. These new regulations put a strain on professors just as they do students. Professors are now required to come up with more content to teach students, and they must grade those added assignments as well.

I blame the credit hour system. If Baker can find a way to incorporate the amazing ideals of interterm in a way that is not bound by the credit hour definitions, then there may be hope for the interterm program yet.