At USF, students have the opportunity to set their own pace in January. The unique month referred to as interim, or J term, allows students to customize the four week session to fit their specific needs and maximize their college experience before the spring semester starts in late January/early February each year. Whether students are looking to travel abroad, serve on a mission trip, intern at a local business, explore a new topic, pick up a needed class or simply rest—interim enhances the college experience. Here are five ways students customize their interim experience.

1. Explore a new country with your closest friends.

Many students take the opportunity during interim to explore a new country and experience a new culture—and create unforgettable memories with their closest friends. Junior media studies major Laycee Cain embarked on an adventure in Lisbon and Spain this interim. “Exploring new countries is exciting enough, but when you add your close friends and new friends into the mix, the experience becomes that much more sentimental,” Cain says.

2. Serve in our local community or a community across the globe.

Service is an integral part of USF’s identity. Culture for Service is a mindset that is carried out through students, faculty and staff and alumni into the world. Over interim there are opportunities to focus on service both globally and locally.

The Martin Luther King Challenge is held annually at USF in conjunction with Augustana University students to serve the local community with a lens focused not on a ‘to do’ list but on challenges to solve. Instead of sorting food at a food pantry the focus is on building more shelves for storage and organization.

Students can participate in global service opportunities as well. This year students spent time in Juarez, Mexico, with The Ransom Church building homes. Additionally, nursing students served in Guatemala by holding clinics and caring for locals.

3. Dive into an interesting course.

American Slave Narratives is just one of the 54 course offerings students can take advantage of over interim. The four-week period allows students the opportunity to dive deeper into a chosen course. Many students use the time to take general courses like Biology to get ahead. Students are allowed to take four credits for free during interim and are charged $370 per each additional credit beyond that. Some students decide to take a heavy course load over interim to fast track toward graduation. Although a variety of courses are offered, students also enjoy taking special topics courses that are taught only over interim. 

Junior Aiyana Maxwell is taking JRR Tolkien & Christian Imagination and enjoys the unique nature of the course. “A lot of other colleges won't offer a class like this,” Maxwell says. “We are discussing important themes in theology and in human nature like loyalty and good versus evil, and learning many things—it's just in a way that allows us to be more creative and less formal. A regular classroom setting can be very beneficial in its own right, but sometimes being allowed to let our creativity loose can help further our education in ways that a normal class wouldn't.” 

4. Prioritize self-care, rest and boost your bank account by taking the month off.

Students have the freedom to take the month of interim off. Sophomore Katie Movick has capitalized on the benefits an extended break can offer.

“Taking a break from all classes during interim was good for me because I got to relax, spend time with my family and friends that I hadn’t seen and make a little extra money from my at-home job. While interim is a great opportunity to get another class taken care of, I also think that taking some time off from classes is a great option that helps you feel more prepared for the spring semester ahead,” Movick says.

5. Gain career experience with an internship.

Internships are a great way to use the month of interim to gain real world experience. USF’s Academic Success Center is proud to offer support placing students in relevant internships and guiding them in USF’s online job and internship database Purple Briefcase. Senior exercise science and psychology major Josiah Abraham interned at Dow Rummel Village in Sioux Falls, where he gained experience as a restorative aid, taught group fitness classes and worked with residents in individual exercise sessions. “Taking my internship over interim provided a lot more flexibility in my available hours, and it got me the hours I needed in a short period of time rather than spreading it out over an entire semester,” Abraham says. 

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