Farmer School students start 2019 early with winter term classes

Fast-paced classes help students meet goals

Terry Nixon teaches a winter term finance class in Taylor Auditorium
Terry Nixon teaches a winter term finance class in Taylor Auditorium Photo: Jay Murdock

Fast-paced classes help students meet goals

Winter break is a time when many Farmer School students work, intern, or just relax a bit before spring semester starts at the end of January. But some students are already back in the classroom this month taking classes during the winter term.

In addition to several online courses, more than a dozen classes are in session in the Farmer School, ranging from Real Estate Principles and Accounting Analysis to Principles of Macroeconomics and Introduction to Management and Leadership, each of which will condense an entire semester of learning into less than four weeks -- sometimes less than three.

“You're often teaching material one day that you're testing on tomorrow,” finance professor Dr. Terry Nixon noted. “It's a really quick turnaround for the students. They have to stay enthused, stay up with it.”

In a lower-level Farmer School classroom, senior finance major Alexis Bryan arrives early for her three-plus hour FIN 331 class with Dr. David Marshall. She’s also taking a tax accounting class this term. “These are the last couple classes that I couldn’t fit into a semester,” Bryan explained. “It’s pretty fast-paced. We have classes Monday through Friday in this class. But I don’t think it’s too much to handle. It’s been OK for me so far.”

It’s the first time that Bryan’s taken any winter term courses, but across the classroom from her, senior finance major Austin Strause is taking classes in January for the fourth time -- the second time on campus. “It’s helped me a lot because it’s easier to focus on just one course at a time,” he noted. “Just being able to focus on one course helps my learning a ton. I feel like I’ve gotten great grades in every winter term class I’ve taken.”

Nixon and Marshall both said that staying on top of the classwork is key to any student’s success in a winter term class. “You end up assigning 60 pages of homework in a day, and they have to go through it, they have to know it,” Marshall explained. “We have quizzes every day that forces them to stay current, which I think is important.”

“Work in advance, ask questions, and when test time rolls around, they should be ready to rock. If they're going to be the ones that procrastinate and wait until the night before the test and cram, they're not going to do as well,” Nixon noted.

Strause said that there’s another benefit that he finds in taking winter term classes. “Another advantage is having more contact with the professor. It’s more of a personal environment, which definitely enhances the learning overall. Throughout a semester, I wouldn’t say I visit office hours too much, but during the winter term, I definitely feel more comfortable speaking up.”

Marshall said he knows that he has to step up his game in the classroom as well. “You have to stay upbeat, that's important to me. I seem to be able to do it. It can be hard on the throat, and I can get tired, but I guess my own level of enthusiasm keeps me going. It helps to have a class that seems receptive. I hope we feed off each other.”

“The challenge is, ‘Can I expect that they will know this after only a day or two, when normally they would have a week or two to think about it, to dwell on it, to have it sink in?’” Marshall asked. “Past experience tells me they can do it.”