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Working over winter

Students can learn from classes over break

January 10, 2010
By RODNEY MINOR, The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Winter break from college provides many students with an opportunity to get away from coursework.

However, students who want to take a class may find one they want or need during winter term.

Dustin Swanger, the president of Fulton-Montgomery Community College, said the college offers students a chance to earn credits with winter term courses that started Monday.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan

Jason Radalin, assistant professor of humanities at Fulton-Montgomery?Community College, teaches his English class in the Classroom Building on the college’s campus Thursday.

Swanger said there are two things winter term courses primarily help with. The first is that some students want to get ahead on their course load, to reduce the work they will have to do in the spring semester. The second reason, he said, is that some students need to play catch-up.

"Some students in the fall may have had to drop a course," he said. "This gives them an opportunity to get caught up."

Greg Truckenmiller, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at the college, said taking a course in the winter term also gives students a chance to improve their grades if they were not pleased with their marks in the fall.

"It also provides an opportunity for international students," he said. "They can't go home. It gives them a chance to do something educational over break."

According to the college's Web site, 15 courses are being conducted over winter term, scheduled to end Jan. 22. All the winter term courses are classes offered at the FMCC campus.

Truckenmiller said the college tries to offer a mix of courses that students can be expected to learn the material from in about three weeks. There are no four-credit calculus or physics classes offered, he said.

"[Those courses] just have to much to learn in the time we have," he said.

The students are expected to learn the same material they would when the course is 15 weeks long.

"It is an intense experience," Truckenmiller said.

The college goes with general education courses that are attractive to FMCC students and students attending other schools that are home on winter term.

Jason Radalin, an assistant professor of humanities at FMCC, said in his English II course this winter term there is a student who attended the State University of New York at Potsdam in the fall. It is great when that diversity is in the class, he said

"It provides a different perspective," Radalin said.

The class, the second part of the college's freshman composition course, meets Monday through Friday from about 1 to 4:10 p.m.

Radalin, who has been at the college for 10 years and has taught the course every winter, said he basically teaches the class the same way he would during the fall or spring semester. Only, instead of having 15 weeks to work with he has 14 days.

In addition to the work the students get in class, they also get homework every night, he said.

While the students do a lot of work, Radalin said, the tradeoff is they get through the course quickly.

"I really enjoy teaching during the winter break," he said. "I find that the students are very focused."

Radalin said he speaks less during the winter term classes than during the fall or spring.

"It could get a little boring with me just talking for three hours," he said.

The students tend to do a lot of small-group discussions where they talk about what they read for class.

Swanger said around 200 students are signed up for winter term courses at the college this year, an increase over previous years.

Radalin said he has about 20 students in the class, whereas in previous years he had about 10.

Truckenmiller said the majority of students taking winter term courses are definitely traditional college-age students, and not adults.

Joel?Chapin, the professor of fine arts at the college, is teaching a ceramics course over the winter term. He said because the class is so condensed, many students have an easier time remembering the skills they use from day to day.

"[The students] attention is not as diluted," Chapin said.

According to the college's Facebook page, people can learn more about the courses being offered at



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