Skip to main content

J-Term at Carthage

The Freshman Experience

What can you expect from your first J-Term at Carthage? New friends, immersive study, and a month you won’t forget  — whether you stay on campus, or get a head start touring the world.

All first-year students are required to take a J-Term course their freshman year. Most first-year students stay on campus for their first J-Term, but freshmen can participate in a J-Term study tour if spots are available.

Azniv overlooking the city of Salzburg from Hohensalzburg Fortress on a snowy January day.Azniv overlooking the city of Salzburg from Hohensalzburg Fortress on a snowy January day.

European Music Tour

Azniv Khaligian ’22
Destination: Europe

For Azniv Khaligian ’22 traveling to Europe for the Music and Culture study tour gave her an opportunity to explore art, history, and music in the classical music center of the world. The freshman music and neuroscience major from Kenosha traveled to Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich with the Carthage Philharmonic and professors Kawakami, Baer, and Burling.

For Azniv, one of the highlights of the trip was performing in Vienna under the direction of a local maestro. She says traveling to the birthplace and modern hub of classical music is an unparalleled opportunity for any student of music.

“In ten days I grew tremendously in my understanding of music through the culture and arts I experienced.”

Azniv says she was astonished to learn what a prominent role music plays in the European society compared to the United States.

“In our country, classical music is appreciated mostly by musical people,” says Azniv, “while in Europe, classical music permeates every aspect of the culture and is cherished by all members of society.”

Before she graduates, Azniv hopes to travel to Honduras for J-Term to study the ecology of a Caribbean coral reef ecosystem and learn about the evolution of nervous systems and behavior, and study Honduran culture.

Senegal: from Colonisation to Globalisation

Emma McLaughlin ’22
Destination: Senegal

During a 2019 study tour to Senegal, Emma McLaughlin ’22 was excited to interact with local school children and see what the educational system looks like in one of the most developed nations in West Africa.

The group toured several schools from public to private as well as bilingual. Emma said most of the children spoke French and English while being taught Arabic in school.

“I was immersed in a French-speaking culture that forced me to sharpen my French skills while engaging in Emma exploring the wildlife while on a safari in Senegal.Emma exploring the wildlife while on a safari in Senegal.respectful country customs,” she says.

In addition to the educational system, the study tour explored the Senegalese culture, language, and religion, as well as business and commerce, all while gaining an appreciation for the rich history of the area.

Emma says she was very surprised to learn that 60 percent of the population live in poverty and the people selling items at the markets heavily rely on tourism to make money.

“The Senegalese people are very thrifty in how they make money and make a business out of anything — selling fruit, washing cars, or guiding tourists around,” she says.

Emma says she is fortunate to have traveled for her first J-Term and hopes to visit Asia or South America in the future.

In Pursuit of Happiness

“Happiness is a conscious choice and not an automatic response,” says Purity. Choose to be happy.“Happiness is a conscious choice and not an automatic response,” says Purity. Choose to be happy.Purity Bundi ’22
Destination: Carthage

Purity Bundi ’22 was happy to be on campus for J-Term 2019. The freshman physics and math major from Nairobi joined Professor Ellen Hauser in the Pursuit of Happiness. The study tour focused on the idea that everyone wants to be happy, what it means, and how to achieve it.

Purity says her classmates all had different perceptions of happiness, but what she learned in the class is very relevant in our daily lives.

“I learned that happiness is more of a long-term fulfillment than a short-term pleasure.”

Purity says her biggest takeaway from the class is that the sound of laughter makes others happy, and “that means a lot to me.”



Carthage Philharmonic’s European Tour

William Dowell ’22
Destination: Europe

William Dowell ’22 says traveling to Europe with the Carthage Philarmonic as a freshman was an intensive experience that helped to build his musicality.The low strings pose in front of Empress Maria Theresa Monument.The low strings pose in front of Empress Maria Theresa Monument. 

“We worked with clinicians and conductors who dissected and reworked our pieces to emphasize the historical stylistic techniques.”

William says traveling through Vienna, Salzburg, and Munich helped him realize classical music is very much alive and an active part of these cities’ cultures that compliments the art, history, and architecture of the area.

“What I experienced on this study tour helps give me the freedom to truly explore the music as a living work instead of interacting with it as if it belongs in a museum,” he says.

In addition to practicing their music, they learned about the culture that surrounds it. Visits to the Haydn House and Mozart House gave the students more insight into the lives of those composers.

William says his study tour gave him the travel bug and he wants to see the world! 


Viewing campus from a new perspective

Maddie Gronset ’17
Destination: Carthage

As a freshman, Maddie Gronset ’17 stayed on campus in January and faced the cold weather. But ask Maddie about her first J-Term, and she’ll answer that she had just as much fun as those who traveled elsewhere.

Maddie took the J-Term course “The Pursuit of Happiness” taught by sociology professor Ellen Hauser. The class focused on finding happiness in the now and within yourself, Maddie says. They read books on the Dalai Lama and spent days talking about The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. As a class they also participated in meditation and improvisation games.

One of the greatest assignments in the class, Maddie says, was to spend a full day without power: No computers. No televisions. No cell phones. Nothing.

Getting away from the screens was a form of meditation, Maddie explains. The exercise made her explore new things, and opened her eyes to how beautiful the campus is, even in the winter months. It also sparked her interest in the impact media has on society, causing her to change her major to communication.

“It’s crazy how much I learned from a class I thought was going to be about ways to be happy,” Maddie says. “I am glad I had the month to focus on this class because it was an eye-opening experience.”

“Hollywood Does Psychology”

Fred McCann ’17
Destination: Carthage

Fred McCann ’17 also stayed on campus for J-Term his freshman year. A football player, he had daily workouts, so traveling wasn’t an option.

“I wanted to take a class that would interest me and help boost my GPA,” Fred says. “I came across the course Hollywood Does Psychology, and I knew right away that it was going to be my first J-Term class.”

“The first day of class, we spent a half hour learning about the psychological concept of aggression, and then we watched the movie ‘Goodfellas’ for the remainder of the class,” he says. “J-Term classes are structured to last three hours every day of the week, and this class was no exception. But man, it sure didn’t feel like three hours when you are watching some of the best movies every made.”

The students write a short paper every day about the movie they had watched and how it related to a specific psychological concept.

“My first J-Term was a great experience,” Fred says. “My work for the day was often done by lunch, leaving plenty of free time to hang with friends. I also met my future roommate, gained a broad understanding of subject outside my major, and earned a 4.0 GPA — all while watching phenomenal movies such as ‘Star Wars (Return of the Jedi)’ and ‘The Shining.’”

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $22,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …