The January Program

The January Program, familiarly referred to as JanPlan, was first established at Colby in 1962 and has since become an integral part of the College's curriculum. Jan Plan is designed to offer students and faculty a change of pace from the two regular semesters and to provide students with an opportunity to develop individual strengths and interests through a variety of unique academic and extracurricular experiences. It is a time to explore one topic in depth, visit other regions and countries, investigate careers, or pursue a dream. Students are expected to complete three Jan Plans while at Colby. (A student who is studying off-campus for the year may be excused from one January term.) The campus itself is a lively place during January with even more guest lectures, performing arts programs, athletic contests, and social and recreational events on the College schedule.

The January Program affords many different options. Some courses offered on campus are traditional semester courses that have been condensed into the four-week period. Students generally meet in classes several hours each day and are responsible for exams and papers. The students receive full academic credit for these classes. Other courses are designed especially for January and usually arise from on-going interests and research of faculty members. Professors will develop an idea for a new course, explore a short-term topic, or combine academic interests in their own discipline with ideas from another discipline or even a hobby. Some examples of both kinds of courses include:

Biology of Women

Plant and Animal Architecture

Winter Ecology

Field Programs

A student may also choose from among a group of unique off-campus mini-programs that are specifically designed for January or that do not fall within one of the traditional academic areas. These programs are given a credit/nocredit grade and usually combine class meetings and field exercises with an independent project to give students hands-on experience. Environmental studies in Ecuador and Venezuela, tropical plant biology in Costa Rica; ecology in the Mojave Desert; and marine biology in the Caribbean are some examples. The department generally sponsors one or two trips each year.

Another option is an internship or independent project which may be on or off campus. They may be taken for academic credit or simply Jan-plan credit. These programs are sponsored by department faculty members and may be arranged through alumni, the Colby Off-Campus Study Office, faculty members, or through the student's own efforts. The independent projects may provide students with firsthand experiences in various professional careers or offer them an opportunity to begin graduate level research while still an undergraduate.