All About Spring Term — An Alma Specialty
Spring Term (aka May Term) is a one-month term that occurs at the end of each academic year. It's a unique opportunity to concentrate on one course that may involve unusual activities such as travel, advanced study or research, or interdisciplinary experiences.
Even if it's a course that's also offered during fall or winter term, it's likely to be very different in format. Many students say that their Spring Term experiences were some of the most exciting things they did in college.
Requirement. All students are required to take a minimum of two Spring Term classes. About 80% of students take more than that, as Spring Term is a great way to get unique classes and to spread out the yearly load. Students who transfer in with 32 credits or more need to take only one spring term, but it must be an "S" class (see below).
"S" designation. At least one Spring Term class must be an "S" class, i.e., one that takes advantage of the unique format of Spring Term and crosses geographical, cultural or disciplinary boundaries. A term spent off campus in an approved Alma College program (e.g., Philadelphia, Germany, France, etc.) may meet the "S" requirement. The student must still take two Spring Terms.
Tentative Spring Term Schedule. A tentative Spring Term schedule is available in the Fall of each academic year. Be prepared for changes; many Spring Term classes are offered every other year, but Spring is also a fertile time for change and innovation.
Travel classes. Travel classes often recruit students in the Fall, so contact instructors immediately and watch for "Informational Meeting" signs. Otherwise, you will miss the boat (or the plane).
Spring Term Registration. Sign-up occurs in February, using a paper form only. Unlike all other terms, forms must be turned in on certain days (seniors first) to ensure that seniors get the classes they need to graduate. You will know immediately if you are in the class. Turning a form in early won't increase your chances of getting the class, but turning it in late certainly decreases your chances! Many Spring Term classes close quickly. Students in travel classes must register normally, but their names will already be on a closed permission list.
Start of classes. Spring term classes start on a Sunday and end on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, although travel classes may have different start and end dates. Verify the exact start date, time and location with the instructor before you leave for break, or you may miss the first class. Please do not rely on hearsay or rumor.
Class Obligations. Individual instructors set the attendance hours and activities; there's a lot of variation depending on class activities and goals. Some Spring Term classes are incompatible with spring sport schedules, so please investigate before signing up for classes if you plan to play.
Spring term DRs. It is dangerous to expect that your last distributive requirement will be offered during Spring Term of your senior year. As always, advance planning is important. Your four-year plan should have Spring Term classes penciled in just like any other term.
Summer School. Note that Spring Term dates may overlap the start of summer classes at some schools. Make sure you investigate and understand these potential conflicts if you intend to take summer classes.
A Warning Note. There's a rumor out there that Spring Term classes are "easy" classes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Expect to put in a lot of time outside of class, since each week of spring term equals about 3 weeks during the regular term, and your professors have planned accordingly. These classes are intense! Students who put work off or miss class may face very unpleasant consequences due to the rapid pace. So investigate, understand and plan for what could be a highlight of your Alma Experience and a boost for your future!