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News and Media

News and Media

Winter Term Is Period For Learning Opportunities, On Campus and Abroad

Jan. 04, 2012

EJ Dickson

Alexandra Eurich '10 reads in the Orosi Valley of Costa Rica.
Rachel Cotterman '10

On many college campuses, January is a time for students to return to the routine of homework and classes. But at Oberlin, the period between fall and spring semester — otherwise known as  winter term  — is an opportunity for growth and reflection. Throughout the month, formal classes are suspended, and students have the option of completing a project of their choice for half or full credit.

A winter-term project can be anything from a collaborative research project to writing a novel. The individual or group project must also be approved by a faculty sponsor, preferably within the department that corresponds to the project’s area of interest.

Winter-term project opportunities are also available through Programs for International Study, which arranges for students to pursue their academic and extracurricular interests abroad. International projects in the past have included teaching English at a school in Mexico, studying land use in India, and volunteering at a women’s refugee center in Belgium.

Students may also obtain credit for winter term for part-time jobs or internships that are often sponsored by the Office of Career Services. Through the Career Services office, students are placed in internships as varied as shadowing an emergency room physician at the Cleveland Clinic; volunteering at a human rights organization in Washington, DC; and interning at a literary agency in New York City. One can find many of these internship opportunities on Obie Opps, the Career Services internship database, or through Oberlin faculty and alumni.

Students also have the option of staying on campus to complete their winter-term projects. By conducting research in the biology department labs, volunteering to lead creative art therapy programs at a local retirement community, or directing a student production, students may fulfill their three required winter-term credits within the Oberlin community. Individual, personal growth projects, such as reading the short stories of Nikolai Gogol, or learning how to make a quilt, are also available for credit, pending approval from a faculty sponsor and the winter-term committee.

With a limitless range of projects at students’ disposal, winter term at Oberlin is, first and foremost, an opportunity for self-exploration. Regardless of the project, the central objective remains the same: to continue the process of discovery, both personal and academic, outside the confines of a classroom.

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