Abbreviated semester offers academic help


Michael Guido, News Editor

For the first time in its history, Gannon University will be offering an abbreviated “winter-mester” to help students who have been academically affected by COVID-19.

The session, which was announced earlier in this current semester, will allow students to choose from 10 core classes that will all be offered online.

The session will run for six weeks, beginning Nov. 30 and ending Jan. 22 and will feature a holiday break between Dec. 21 and Jan. 1.

While independent of the spring semester, the winter-mester will work in conjunction with the spring semester.

Students who take classes during the winter-mester will be eligible to use financial aid set aside for the spring semester.

Another bonus for students is that any credits accumulated during the winter-mester will count toward their spring semester credits.

Some of the classes that will be offered range from intro-level courses such as Intro to Psychology to upper-level courses such as Philosophy of Ethical Responsibility.

Other classes that will be offered include Intro to Criminal Justice, U.S. Government & Politics, Principles of Macroeconomics, Intro to Fine Arts and Leadership Seminar.

As the new winter-mester approaches, faculty members such as Anjali Sahay, Ph.D., who will be teaching a U.S. Government & Politics course, are beginning to prepare, though it hasn’t changed how she prepares.

“For me it is business as usual,” Sahay said. “I teach the online POLI 111 class every summer as well, so I am both familiar and trained to teach the online class.”

Sahay said that with this class occurring in the aftermath of the presidential election, it will serve a major role in the class.

“Post-election analysis will be the highlight of this class, so what an exciting time to be taking it,” Sahay said.

Sahay said she feels that this is a great opportunity for students looking to ease up on their credit load for the spring semester.

“Many of my advisees have talked to me about this so I know they are excited about the opportunity to take some classes,” Sahay said.

Overall, Sahay said that this was a good idea from Gannon.

“Students can take advantage of this opportunity to catch up on some credits and classes,” Sahay said.

Students themselves discussed their interest in this new semester setup.

Kristin Lowmaster, a junior physician assistant major, said that she was going to take classes in order to “clear up” her spring semester schedule.

While Lowmaster hasn’t looked at any of the offerings, she said she knows a few will fulfill graduation requirements and will academically help her.

Lowmaster said that she believes Gannon should continue to offer the winter-mester in the era after COVID-19.

“Students should have more opportunities to lighten their course load for future semesters,” Lowmaster said.

Matt Whaley, a sophomore political science major, said that he wanted to take advantage of a long winter break as well as the way Gannon has structured its payment plan.

“I can take three credits in the winter and it will be a part of the flat tuition rate between 12-18 credits for the spring,” Whaley said.

Whaley said he sees it as a good idea to continue the abbreviated semester well into the future.

“I think if there is a way to expedite this process into what usually is our shorter five- to six-week winter breaks, I’m all for it,” Whaley said

Students like Sheila Lang, a sophomore occupational therapy major, said that having this opportunity will allow her to knock out some introductory classes such as Intro to Fine Arts and Intro to Literature, which in turn helps her fit a GIFT course into her spring semester schedule.  GIFT courses generally include one to four weeks of either international or domestic travel.

Lang said that she thinks Gannon should continue to offer setups like this in the future.

“It’s a great way to get ahead or catch up on core classes or to take something you are interested in that may have not worked into your normal schedule,” Lang said.

Students interested in taking classes during the winter-mester are encouraged to speak to their advisers before or during Advising Day, Nov. 3, with registration opening for both the winter-mester and the spring semester the following day, Nov. 4.


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