Georgetown University launched an academic program allowing first-year students to complete a core curriculum class before the official start of the school year in late August.
The intensive August session is an extension of the fall semester during which students can begin coursework for one core curriculum class for no additional cost. During the August session, which will begin August 3 and end August 20, classes will host two-hour online meetings four times a week before shifting to one class a week after New Student Orientation.
The university created the August session to reduce the academic burden of online learning after receiving feedback from students about the spring semester, according to School of Foreign Service Dean Samuel Aronson.
“One of the messages that was very clear in those surveys was how many students said taking a full-time class load entirely distance was fatiguing,” Aronson said in a phone conversation with The Hoya. “The intensive August session allows us to reduce the amount of classes that students have to take concurrently while maintaining the full-time amount of credits that students are actually learning net during the fall semester.”
The courses offered during the August session include two sections of “Intro to Ethics,” “Intro to Philosophy: Philosophy of Reparations,” seven sections of “The Problem of God,” and four sections of “Writing and Culture” — courses often taken by first-year students during the fall semester. The university will likely not add more courses to the list, according to Aronson.
First-year students — for whom the program is designed — can register for the intensive August session by completing an interest form, which becomes available July 1 and closes July 8. Upperclassmen already enrolled in the selected classes before they converted to intensive courses can elect to keep or drop the course, according to Aronson. First-year students can begin to register for fall semester classes July 27, weeks after the deadline for the August session registration.
Incoming freshman Emily Arnold (NHS ’24) appreciates the option to ease the burden of coursework. However, the decision to enroll in the August session is complicated by other fall semester uncertainties.
“If I knew that I was gonna have to do my first semester completely virtually, then I would probably go ahead and do the August session, just so I could have a lighter course load for that semester. I’m not the best online learner,” Arnold said in a phone interview with The Hoya. “If I were gonna be on campus, I think it would be a different experience, and I might not want to do that if I didn’t have to do as much virtual learning.”
The university has yet to announce finalized plans for the fall semester, leaving many students in anxious anticipation and clouding decisions with uncertainty.
“I want to have more information about what the environment is going to be like and what my campus experience is going to be like if I’m actually on campus,” Arnold said. “I appreciate it, but I want to know more about what the plans are for the semester and what this session is going to really be like.”
University administrators are considering four possible plans for the fall semester, according to slides obtained by The Hoya in mid-June. Three of these options would entail bringing at least half of the student body back to campus. Georgetown graduate programs and the Georgetown University Law Center announced plans to restart in-person instruction while offering online learning options.
As she and her peers wait for information about their first college semester, Arnold hopes the university will provide more support and information to students.
“I think all the freshmen would benefit from a Zoom meeting or something along those lines with our peer advisers or our deans just so we can prepare ourselves for whatever is coming our way,” Arnold said. “This is true with every situation that I’ve encountered with Georgetown: I just want more information.”