Not everyone takes a break this time of year at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Although the campus is mostly quiet between fall and spring semesters, those who are taking or teaching during “winterim” cover a semester-long class in a matter of weeks.
“It’s weird coming to campus the day after Christmas,” said UCCS senior Chelsey Muth, 22. She was at the bookstore in University Center picking up books for her evening business management class that started Wednesday.
She spent a shortened holiday with her family in La Junta before returning to campus. The course ends Jan. 11, and Muth will spend three nights a week and a Saturday in class, plus additional outside time on assignments.
“It’s worth it to be done with it and not have to take it during the semester,” she said.
Courses cover multiple study areas, including geography, history, anthropology, biology, art and criminal justice. Most are worth three credit-hours.
The fall semester ended Dec. 15. The start date for “winterim” courses are between Dec. 17 and early January. The first day of classes for the spring 2013 semester is Jan. 22, and the courses taken during winterim count toward the spring GPA.
“Lots of liberal arts colleges do it,” said UCCS Interim Provost David Moon. “It’s fairly new to public schools.”
The short scholastic term started in 1992, and was organized by individual departments, Moon said. The university started formally funding courses across subject areas around 1999.
Last year, about 1,125 students spent part of their break in the 43 classes offered.
Moon said winterim has slowly grown over the years, but there are limits.
“Only so many students have the freedom to do this,” he said.
Professors are offered an additional stipend for taking on a winterim course, or given the option of a lighter load in the spring.
“It works really well for some classes,” Moon said, adding that students can focus on a single subject, instead of juggling a mix of classes.
An added bonus is that professors can take their classes on field trips — a perk difficult to plan when students are enrolled in other classes and activities.
Aside from cramming a semester’s worth of learning into about 10 days, the courses run like any other UCCS class.
The bookstore stocks required materials, and offers online ordering. Some employees worked on orders Christmas Eve so students could pick up their books this week.
Rhea Steward, who works in the text department, said she loved the classes when she was a student, but it does take work, she said.
“You better be ready to bust your behind,” Stewart said.
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