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Friday, February 23, 2024

Offering winter classes will help students

Last week, UW-Madison students received an e-mail with a survey from the Division of Continuing Studies regarding the possibility of UW-Madison implementing winter break classes. The plan consists of “offering a selection of in-person and online courses for one-to-three credits during the three weeks prior to the start of the spring semester.” For example, a three-credit course would meet roughly three hours a day every weekday for three weeks, and the tuition costs for the classes would be in addition to fall and spring tuition charges.

Considering UW-Madison students have a month-long winter break and fear the fall and spring semester’s heavy credit loads, I believe the implementation of winter break classes is an excellent idea.

UW-Madison students get four weeks off in between the fall and spring semesters. That’s four weeks to work, stay in Madison—which the majority of students choose not to do, or just “relax” and not do much of anything. That last one is a popular choice, and for good reason, because UW students work hard throughout the semester and deserve a bit of a break.

However, some students choose to take either online or in-person courses at other institutions over their break since other UW System schools, such as UW-Milwaukee, offer both online and classroom courses for students.

Some of these courses may be pass/fail courses and count for varying levels of credit. Yet, due to the flexibility of the UW System, students choosing to take in-person or online courses at other universities within the UW System receive credit for the courses they take.

Currently, many UW-Madison students take courses during the summer sessions. UW-Madison offers over 1,000 different courses that last anywhere from one to 13 weeks. The most popular sessions are either the three or eight week sessions.

However, many UW students venture onto other things during the summer months. Internships, important summer jobs and other activities occupy college students’ timetables months in advance. Because of this, balancing summer-only activities with classes during an eight-week session can be both challenging and stressful.

Winter classes would allow students to pursue out-of-school activities available only over the summer and still take extra classes in the year. If the right courses were offered at UW-Madison over winter break, specifically courses that cater to general education requirements, prerequisites or even fun and or “ugh” courses students want to get out of the way, break classes would be a popular idea among UW students. While it may be hard to implement “important” courses in a three-week winter session, giving students the opportunity to take classes during their winter break that they need to get out of the way will help to eliminate stress in the upcoming semesters.

UW should seriously consider adding winter break classes to the academic calendar. UW students should have the opportunity to take one-to-three credit courses, be it online or in-person, over their month-long winter break. Despite the additional tuition costs, many UW-Madison students would take advantage of this opportunity and could enjoy getting a couple of courses and credits out of the way.

Ethan Safran is a freshman with an undeclared major. Tell us what you think about winter courses by sending us an e-mail to

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