Though most of you are familiar with Summer term classes, many of you may not be aware that most seminaries offer what is called an “Interim Term” between the Fall and Spring semester and/or one between the Spring and Summer semester. These classes can last anywhere between a couple of days to a month and are accelerated classes that help seminary students finish their degree program sooner and thus, freeing them up to go and live out their calling. There are both positives and negatives to these type of classes. First, a look at the positive aspects of a Winter/May class is needed.
* Typically Lighter Load. Though these classes are undoubtedly intense the fact that they have a shorter amount of time before the grades are due for them means they usually offer a lighter course load. Typically, it will entail less reading and assignments than a regular semester class making it that much more appealing and easier to gain the needed hours. Though, this all is dependent also upon the professor.
* The Heart of the Lesson. Since the actual class time is far shorter, professors get straight to the point and focus on getting all the key points made. A lot of time these classes are smaller too so even though the professor is focused on getting across the main points, there is a lot more opportunity to ask more specific questions and for the professor to meet the needs of the particular class.
* Go! Why do you go to seminary? Because God called you there to equip yourself to go out and live out the ministry He has for you. The problem is, many people forget once they get to seminary that God called them there for the purpose of going out and doing ministry. So often, individuals can get caught up in the world of academics and the security of merely studying about doing ministry instead of living it out. Therefore, for the majority of seminary students it seems that God’s will is not for them to stay in school for a huge chunk of their life but to study, soak up as much as they can, and go! This type of class allows seminary students to get the needed education all the while shaving down on the hours needed to go and live out their calling. If God has called you to ministry, His will is likely not for you to spend your whole life in school so take advantage of these classes to help you to get closer to going and doing!
* Freedom? Not quite! The hardest part of these classes is that they come at the end of a full semester. Winter break or May will hit and it will feel as if you have more freedom because you are not going to class as much but, you still have many pressing assignments awaiting you. After being so drained from a busy semester especially coming off of finals, it is not quite as easy as you thought to just keep going with classes. Though, I am sure no seminary students can understand and meant to binge watch shows on Netflix all day while their papers sat unwritten…
* Discipline. If you want to do one of these classes you have got to be disciplined. Professors vary on their deadlines so some will be more strict than others and the winter interim classes do not have long until the semester starts so this is not always the case. However, in a May term and in my particular May term class, grades are not due until the end of the summer and you have all summer before another semester starts up again. Therefore, it is definitely tempting to put those papers off until right when they are due but one must be disciplined in managing their time and assignments in such a way that they can get them done as soon as possible in order to meet the deadlines and also still enjoy a bit of a break. It is always a challenge if you are serving in ministry to go to seminary at the same time, regular semester or not. The difficult part of an interim term is that youth or church wide activities typically increase over the winter break and the summer with various holidays and kids being out of school. That means that the need for discipline is vamped up all the more and though the amount of time spent going to class is cut down, often ministry becomes more demanding.
All in all, I am a fan of Interim terms. I think they are more personal because of the smaller class size and the most important information on the topic is discussed. I also enjoy the freedom of doing assignments on my time and not always having to go to class yet having a professor readily at hand to ask questions to and classmates to keep one another accountable to complete assignments on or ahead of time. Therefore, if you are going to take an Interim class remember these three tips: talk to your professor ahead of time about the reading and assignments, get the assignments done right away, and give yourself a schedule in which to get things done. Be sure and keep an eye out for other opportunities to get course credit like conferences or mission trips or things of the like in order to get that much closer to graduation. Interim classes can be tough but they position you to more quickly go and live out the ministry God has called you to.
By Macy Tyler. Macy is a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary working on her Masters of Arts in Biblical Counseling. She is passionate about teaching and counseling women and guiding them to deeper relationship with Christ. She is married to Trey who is also studying at Southwestern and is working on his Masters of Arts in Christian Education. Macy and Trey are seeking to church plant in the future wherever God may lead.