My Design: Was it worth it?

A My Design class visited Strategic Factory during Jan term. (Photo courtesy of the Center of Experience and Opportunity).A My Design class visited Strategic Factory during Jan term. (Photo courtesy of the Center of Experience and Opportunity).

As all the first-year students know, there was a new Jan term requirement to take My Design. This was a simple class in which you talk about who you are and what you want to do, either through posters and reflection papers or conversations with your classmates. You were also required, and greatly encouraged, to go to various events both on and off-campus, as well as organize your own.

Most people likely thought “great, I don’t have a choice but to go back early and sit through a two-hour class.” That was my initial reaction and reality for that matter. While I was not overly excited about writing reflections on personal and professional wandering maps, I did get something out of my overall Jan term.

The thing about My Design was that it was my only class during Jan term. Just two hours and the rest of the day was mine. Whether you love it or hate it, what you did a majority of the time was up to you. Aside from the fact that you had to attend at least three events (not counting your own), many events were scheduled for the entire term. Some were better than others. Most of the students’ events were just games and movie nights. There were also pre-planned events that required registration beforehand, all of which were of various categories: personal/professional development, and fun stuff. Needless to say, I didn’t mind watching movies, playing Smash in the Rec Lounge or playing laser tag (spamming the trigger), however, the ones I got the most out of were the professional/personal events.

When I toured Strategic Factory, I got to go off campus and explore the possibilities of an internship while I’m still in college. As it turned out, they offer various internships to McDaniel students, including in the I.T. department, something ideal for a computer science major. Unlike the job fair, you don’t just talk to someone at a table then go to the next and take their pens; rather, you get to see what you’re possibly getting into firsthand.

At the end of the day, what you choose to get out of it is what makes or breaks Jan term. I don’t mean “look on the bright side” or to offer “at least” statements. Anyone can say “at least you got to ease back in,” or “look on the bright side, you still got two credits.” What I mean is what you did with your time outside of anything graded. Did you go to events that you genuinely enjoyed, and not just the ones you felt obligated to attend? Did you make the most out of it?

For me, it was a great means of spending time with friends, especially since we’re all usually preoccupied during the regular semester. We often met up, got lunch and dinner, and watched Star Wars in Lewis. Campus Safety even let us finish “The Mandalorian” when they were about to lock the place up. Overall, I can’t say the same for everyone. My stance is that it’s more enjoyable when it’s not required and your time is what you make of it. I would recommend taking a Jan term at least one year, just for the experience, but it doesn’t have to be My Design.