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New year comes early with classes on Jan. 4

Belmont students will have to pack up earlier at both ends of the spring semester because of a new schedule change.

This spring, the new semester will begin on Jan. 4 and finals will end on May 1. In the past, students and faculty returned from their winter breaks in mid-January, and finals did not end until the second week in May.

The change was made, said Belmont provost Thomas Burns, to better accommodate “an increasing number of opportunities to study away [or] abroad.”

[The change will] allow students to create learning experiences that weren’t possible before,” he said.

The change in schedule also allows for an extra Maymester to be offered after the end of the spring semester, Belmont president Dr. Bob Fisher said at a question-and-answer convo. The Maymester allows students to take a semester’s load of coursework in a month’s time.

An early return date from winter break worries some students about the complications of returning to Belmont.

“The airfare cost would be expensive around this time I would think. Late December and early January is the worst time for flying,” junior Anh Nguyen said.

Catherine Pjetraj also is concerned about flying at this time. As an RA, she must return to campus on Dec. 31.

She said it will be expensive and dangerous, and her personal holiday plans must change as well. “I can’t celebrate the New Year like I was planning.”

The change will also affect various athletic teams and their schedules. The baseball team, who has sporadically played past the end of the semester previously, will be required to stay after the spring semester.

“Depending on how well we do at the end of the season, [the season] could [end] late May to mid-June,” said junior first baseman Judah Akers. While Akers preferred the old schedule, he will get some benefits from the change.

“It is actually going to help me get more hours in this year because I will be able to take a three-hour course during the Maymester,” he said.

The current academic calendar for spring 2013 has an even earlier start time than this year. If not changed, the semester will start on Jan. 2. This schedule, however, will likely be changed to start at a later date, Fisher said.

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