J-term or Optional Winter Session

<p>The official academic calendar says that the winter recess lasts from Dec. 22 to Jan 2, which is barely 12 days. Then, it is followed by a three-week-long "optional" winter session that lasts till Jan 23. I am an International Student and I am concerned about having enough time to spend with my family back home. So is this winter session truly optional? Is it mandatory to attend? Because 5 weeks of winter break seems too much, while 11 days is just ridiculously short.</p>

<p>It is truly optional. 2009-2010 was the first year with this schedule. The change allowed final exams for the fall semester to take place before the winter break. If it is not practical for you to go home since you are an international, you can look into doing a short internship during the J-term.</p>

<p>Is there an extra fee for J-term? What types of courses are offered?</p>

<p>With the financial crisis this year, there really wasn't any programming/classes during the J-term. Students had to get permission to stay on campus during it and were only granted it if they needed to be on campus to do research, sports, etc. It remains to be seen what programming will be developed for the coming years.</p>

<p>"J-term" has turned into a real problem because of the economic situation at Harvard. When they first put it on the calendar, for 2009-2010, the idea was that there would be all kinds of mini-courses taught, and whoever wanted to could live on campus. It has not panned out that way. They kicked everyone out of housing (though, did not refund or pro-rate room & board or tuition!). Then they said people could apply to stay on campus if they had some reason to be there--but did not allow everyone to return. Next year, they apparently will allow all students to return to campus one week before classes start. So, there will effectively be 3+ to 5 weeks of vacation, should you so choose.</p>

<p>Wonder if you can cross register for MIT's Jterm they have great programs.</p>

<p>If not, go home see your family and relax. Or travel.</p>

<p>"MIT's Jterm" = IAP/Independent Activities Period.</p>

<p>For last year's J term, everyone I know stayed home.</p>

<p>I don't know what Harvard will do about classes but my guess is that there will be more short trips, volunteer opportunities, and extracurricular-related activities during J-term as the years go on.</p>