J-term waitlists increase even with added courses

Many students hoping to take a J-term class this year were frustrated when registering in the fall.

Last year, 1,405 students took a J-Term class, and this year the number of students enrolled in J-term courses increased to 1,627. Even though St. Thomas has 1,848 seats available for students in J-term classes and some classes have no waitlists, not all students are getting into the classes they want.

Some theology classes, such as Christian marriage, currently have waitlists as high as 86 students between the two sections. New Testament’s waitlist is  at 99 students for both sections, and Christian Morality’s waitlist is at 44 students.


Junior Ian Ormseth said he didn’t get into the J-term class he wanted.

“I think it’s very inconvenient,” Ormseth said. “I tried to get into a psychology class, but those all filled up. I know a lot of students, like me, use the J-term as a way to try and graduate on time. Those classes filling up that fast really puts a wrench in their graduation plans.”

Unable to take his first choice, Ormseth settled on a theology class, but not all students were as lucky. The theology department added seven more classes than last J-term, but Laurie Diamond, administrative assistant for the theology department, said some students will still not be able to get in.

“This is by far the highest demand we have seen for J-term,” Diamond said. “At one point [in the theology department] we had 240 [students] on waitlists. When our waitlist remained long despite adding seven sections of theology, I encouraged students to look at other core requirements that they might get in during J-term such as fine arts or philosophy.”

Terry Langan, associate dean of the college of arts and sciences, said the high demand for classes extends to more departments than just theology, and the school will take this year’s situation into account for next J-term.

“Even after adding 400-plus seats this year, we probably will not meet all of the student demand for courses,” Langan said. “We will need to look at which areas students would like to have more seats offered and see if we can’t increase our efforts in these areas for next year.”

Despite many students still on waitlists, the university will not be adding more classes this year.

“We do not expect to add any more courses,” said Bernard Brady, chair of the theology department. “Frankly, we are tapped out.”

The main reason more classes will not be added to this year’s J-term is that not enough professors are available to meet the demand.

“Not all professors are available during J-term,” Diamond said. “It would be difficult to impossible for a faculty member to teach more than one class and do it justice. A J-term class is equivalent to taking or teaching a full load. One class in one month is the same amount of work as four classes in the four months of spring or fall semesters. Additionally, how many classes we offer in J-term affects our spring enrollments.”

Diamond said a number of factors played a role in this year’s unprecedented demand.

“One [reason] is that students had to be on campus for [other] reasons – jobs, sports or whatever,” Diamond said. “Students wanted to get core requirements in when they had less scheduling conflicts with their major requirements, because so many majors require labs, practicums, or internships.”

Junior Tony Trulen, like Ormseth, said this year’s situation reflects how unorganized the university is.

“I think they should offer more [classes]  than less,” Trulen said. “That way they can always cancel classes if they don’t fill up.”

Ryan Shaver can be reached at shav7005@stthomas.edu.