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Interim: A Time for Gen-Eds?

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Some students believe general education courses during Interim will give them more flexibility

General education courses now offered during Interim

The Wofford website defines Interim as: “Giving ‘both teacher and student the liberty to explore, to experiment, to try new approaches, and in doing so to run risks that cannot be run during the regular semester when the emphasis is different.”’ 

This brief one-month semester has been a staple of Wofford since its inception in 1968; it sets Wofford  apart from other colleges and gives students a change from the normal pace of semesters. During Interim, students can travel abroad, intern, present independent projects and take unique classes that focus on non-traditional academic material. Interim is graded on an honors/pass/fail system, which is intended to encourage students to explore their interests without the added pressure of worrying about their GPA. 

This year’s Interim, however, is drifting from the normal path by offering two classes that meet the general education requirements: Psychology: Science in Context and Introduction to Religion. According to the Wofford website, both the January 2020 and 2021 courses will be experimenting with offering general education courses. Wofford is also offering an interim course waiver if students fail their general education course taught during Interim, as long as they repeat the requirement in the next semester. This is only applicable to the experimental terms though in January 2020 and 2021. 

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This idea of adding general education courses to Interim is new and quite different to the traditional purpose of Interim. So how does the Wofford community feel about this new change? Do they support adding general education courses to the interim curriculum? 

In an anonymous survey, which had responses from students of all classes and faculty, 87.5% of responses indicated support for Wofford offering general education classes during Interim. One student liked the idea, and made the comment, “Gen-Eds during interim provide an opportunity for students to create more flexibility in their schedules during the semester where class availability can create scheduling issues.” Another student viewed this change as a financial advantage for students because “it is a more cost efficient way for students to complete their credit hours than taking summer school.”  

Overall, many responses indicated that this change would give students more flexibility with their schedules and the opportunity to use the semesters more productively. 

However, others responded against offering general education courses during Interim. One faculty member responded that “the brief interim period may not provide enough time to process the information presented and considered in some regular courses. Other courses may be more appropriate for such a short time span.”  

Aside from the logistics of taking these courses during a shorter time, some respondents argued against offering general education courses because of the nature of Interim. “I believe Interim is for un-paralleled experiences…Interim is what sets Wofford apart because of the amazing opportunities for unique experiences inside and outside of the classroom, not for gen-eds.” 

Although the majority of responses to the survey were in favor of offering these courses, there was a significant voice opposing these changes. Either way, this upcoming Jan. will present an experimental attempt with offering general education courses. 

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