Maymester: A Full Semester in Only Three Weeks


Posted on May 23, 2016 by Joy Washington
Joy Washington


Megan Sparks, communication instructor, teaches a public speaking class during the Maymester session. One of her students said the flexibility is allowing him to complete his coursework sooner than expected. Nearly 500 students are enrolled in 88 Maymester courses. data-lightbox='featured'
Megan Sparks, communication instructor, teaches a public speaking class during the Maymester session. One of her students said the flexibility is allowing him to complete his coursework sooner than expected. Nearly 500 students are enrolled in 88 Maymester courses across the University.

USA students usually take a break after the spring semester. But this year, South has launched a new Maymester session, which started on May 9 and will run through May 27.

There are 491 students enrolled in 88 courses for this first Maymester. The students are  taking advantage of a full range of courses, from public speaking to biology in Costa Rica, where students have traveled abroad.

Johnathan Smith, 22, and a native of Fairhope, needed to take a public speaking class to earn his degree in mechanical engineering.

“I have enjoyed my public speaking course,” Smith said. “Without the Maymester session, I would have had to wait until this summer to complete my requirements.”

Megan Sparks is an instructor of communication who’s teaching the public speaking class in which Smith is enrolled. Her students meet in class Monday, Wednesday and Friday and meet online Tuesday and Thursday. Sparks said the students get the best of both worlds.

“I see this as a great opportunity for our students,” Sparks noted. “There are some students who don’t like online classes because they don’t feel connected to the faculty member or other students. But, the way my class is structured, they get the convenience of meeting online and then they come into the classroom to work on their outlines and give their speeches.”

Several years ago, Sparks worked with the Innovation in Learning Center at South Alabama to redesign her public speaking course. It has paid dividends for the Maymester session.                                               

“They were able to help me customize my course with video and presentations,” she said. “Overall, my course redesign has worked well for my online classes.”

According to Dr. David Johnson, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, Maymester is held at universities across the country and abroad. South decided to implement the Maymester session because it helps achieve one of the University’s priorities, which is to help students graduate in a timely manner.

“Since we had the month gap between spring and summer semesters, it was a perfect time to add the new Maymester session,” Johnson explained. “We have included traditional courses for students, opportunities for them to do field experiences, and take advantage of the short session to study abroad.”

Johnson said due to the Maymester session being only three weeks, it is intense and challenging, but very rewarding and relevant for students and faculty.

“This course has been fast paced, but I have been able to manage it,” Smith noted. “Once I complete this course, I can totally focus on finding a job and starting my career.”

Five Advantages of South’s New Maymester Session

  • Students can finish their degrees sooner
  • Class sizes are smaller
  • The term is shorter
  • It's a great time to study abroad or do a field study
  • Useful for completing prerequisite courses

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