Winter break could be shortened in future years

Taylor Harrison

The drop in enrollment numbers from the fall to the spring semester has administrators rethinking the length of winter break.

While this year’s winter break will remain the same, President Gary Ransdell said the university is looking into different options for future winter breaks, such as starting the fall semester earlier so the winter term can take place sooner. Ransdell said he has concerns about students being away from campus for about six weeks.

“10 percent of our students study in the winter term, which means 90 percent of our students don’t,” he said. “And is it best for 90 percent of our students to be away for six weeks? I’m not so sure that’s a positive thing for that 90 percent.”

But Ransdell also said the school is very reluctant to get rid of the winter term altogether, as it has a lot of value for some students.

“We’re getting a lot of information, anecdotal, I don’t have exact data,” he said. “But in communicating with students who did not return from the fall to the spring semester, we’re finding that a number of them found jobs because they were out so long they felt like they needed to look for a job. Found jobs, chose to keep the job rather than coming back to school.”

He said it might be a nice job, such as working at the Ford plant in Louisville, which he knows some students did, but that may be a short-term solution.

“The longer a student stays in a job like that, or a former student stays in a job, the more difficult it will be to come back and finish up a degree,” he said.

He said shortening the winter break to only two weeks might help retention.

“So, if students are only off two weeks, for example, would more of those students have come back to school?” he said. “We don’t know an exact answer to that question. That’s a hypothetical question, but it’s something that we’re trying to get a handle on.”

Ransdell said anything that may be done will be done for the 2014-2015 school year at the earliest, as the upcoming year’s academic calendar is set.

Some students have mixed feelings about a potential shortening of winter break in future years.

Louisville freshman Vince Lewis said he is fine with winter break at its current length.

“Personally, I like the way it is,” he said. “I think it just depends on if you want to get out of school earlier.”

He hasn’t taken winter term classes before, but has considered it. Lewis also said he thinks it’d be easier to take a course if the break remained long.

Chicago, Ill. sophomore Martine Johnston has not taken a winter term class, but thinks the shortened winter break could be a good idea.

“I think it would be…better since I don’t take winter term classes, just because six weeks is a lot of time to just not be involved in school, then to get back into it is kind of a hassle after not learning for that long,” she said.

However, Johnston said if winter break was shortened, she would no longer consider taking a winter term class, since she’d have less time to be on break.

Ransdell reiterated that there may be no changes made at all, but they are just looking at options.

“We live in a ever-changing environment and we just need to be smart about how we try to react and adapt,” he said.