Message from Corey Landstrom, Vice President and Dean for Student Life

It is time for a change of pace. The fall semester has come to a close, and for many students this brings a short break before beginning January Term. J-term offers a range of possibilities for students—possibilities quite unlike those in a traditional semester.

For first-year students, this will be their first experience with January Term and its wonderful educational opportunities. Students will immerse themselves in a single subject in one of the 28 courses offered. Some of these include: Psychology of Forgiveness, Fake News?, Black Student Activism, Big Questions, and more. They’ll get to know a faculty member in a different way, and the experience can propel students toward a possible major or minor. The pacing and structure of a J-term course is quite different from a traditional semester. Students may need to adjust their study habits and consider how to keep up with work over the three weeks. It will be different than taking three or four courses at one time over 14 weeks. I have now experienced seven January Terms during my tenure at Luther and am envious of the opportunity students have to dive into a first-year seminar.

For many returning students, J-term brings an opportunity to study in a different setting. This January, over 400 students will be studying across the world and exploring subjects from different vantage points. For many students, this experience is a highlight of their Luther career. The Luther website will feature blogs from this year’s trips (blogs from last year are also still available): While away, students can catalogue their experiences through journals, photographs, blogs, and social media. As they capture their journey, we hope they will reflect upon what they are learning—about the world and themselves. And when they return, I hope they will ask: How have I changed? What do I understand differently? What do I wish to further explore? It’s essential that they think about these questions and more.

 Students who are not studying off-campus can use the January Term 2 option for independent study, research with a faculty member, clinical experiences, internships, and more. A January Term internship can sometimes lead to a summer internship and a deeper experience in which students can explore a career field. This kind of learning is critical, and  students might consider beginning to plan for January 2021! Students should plan to visit the Career Center for guidance on how to discover and apply for internships. In some instances, funding may be available to support a student’s internship experience:
Surprises can emerge from any of these experiences. For students who choose to immerse themselves deeply, J-term can lead to a fundamental, life-changing experience. Learn more about this special term here:

One last J-term note. Students must register with Residence Life if they plan to reside on campus in January. There are specific parameters that must be met in order for them to be eligible to stay on campus (students recently received this information from Residence Life). The policy states the following: Luther College students that are registered for classes and housing during the fall or spring semester may live in the residence halls during January Term if they meet one of the following criteria: 

  • are enrolled in a January Term class with Luther College
  • are working on campus for six or more hours a week
  • are participating on an athletic team that has in-season practices and competitions
  • are participating in rehearsals under the supervision of a Luther College faculty/staff member
  • are an international student
  • live 350 miles from campus and resided on campus during the winter break

Finally, I enjoy the wonderful blog Brain Pickings, and one particular post resonates with me deeply: 13 Learnings from 13 Years of Brain Pickings. The 13 learnings are:

  1. Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.
  2. Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone.
  3. Be generous.
  4. Build pockets of stillness into your life.
  5. When people try to tell you who you are, don’t believe them.
  6. Presence is far more intricate and rewarding an art than productivity.
  7. “Expect anything worthwhile to take a long time.”
  8. Seek out what magnifies your spirit.
  9. Don’t be afraid to be an idealist.
  10. Don’t just resist cynicism—fight it actively.
  11. Question your maps and models of the universe, both inner and outer, and continually test them against the raw input of reality.
  12. There are infinitely many kinds of beautiful lives.
  13. Forgive, forgive, forgive. And then forgive again.

You can find the detailed reflections here: I encourage you to share these with your student and to engage in conversation about their learnings from their time at Luther.