New Name, Same Good Option

  • http-blogs-fandm-edu-wp-content-blogs-dir-29-files-2012-04-sara-jpg Sara Shapiro Harberson (photo by Jim Roese)  

The January Program offers students the option to start their first year at Franklin & Marshall College in the spring term.

This gives students time to travel, study languages in Europe, work as a community organizer, hike through Central America or do something spectacular before buckling down and starting school.

However, said Sara Shapiro Harberson, the name January Program was admittedly not such a memorable name for such a remarkable opportunity.

The January Program is now the Spring Option.

“It allows students to do a little self discovery and not feel like they’ve fallen a year behind,” said Harberson, vice president for enrollment management and dean of admission.

The Spring Option is ideal for the independent student who wishes to take a short break between high school and college, but who also desires to use the time productively to pursue an individualized and challenging program, Harberson said.

“This is becoming a popular choice with students who want to do something different before they start college,” Harberson said.

During fall semester 2007, when the College introduced the January Program, 18 students signed up. However, the program was relatively unstructured, and what the students did with the semester was largely up to them.

That has changed. This semester 35 students chose to participate. Senior Adjunct Assistant Professor of English Katherine Hartman acts as Spring Option adviser and stays in regular contact with students.

Options for what Harberson calls a “gap fall” include studying abroad through programs run by New York University, the Council on International Education Exchange and the Center for International Studies; participating in an organized overseas volunteer program; or undertaking a challenging outdoor program such as Outward Bound.

This term, students are studying Italian in Florence and taking classes in Britain. One is hiking 81 days with Outward Bound. Others are volunteering with political campaigns and working in their home communities.

For more information on the Spring Option visit the Admission pages on the F&M Web site.

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