In the fall, Alisa Holst looked ahead at the last winter break of her college career, and realized she had an opportunity.
With plans to graduate in May, and pursue graduate school afterward, Holst realized the three-week pre-session could help her fulfill a graduation requirement and make a very busy spring semester more manageable.
The senior in food science and technology from Orion, Illinois, enrolled in the “Moldy Meals” course offered by Heather Hallen-Adams, which gave her two credit hours for technical electives she still needed.
“They could be food science or other CASNR courses during the spring semester, but this was an option, so I signed up,” Holst said. “It’s two credit hours less that I’ll have to take in the spring, when I’m also completing my senior capstone, which is going to take up a lot of my time. That lightens my load a bit.”
Launched in 2021 to add course opportunities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the spring pre-session has continued to be offered and students have utilized the term to study abroad, explore new topics of interest, or like Holst, fulfill a degree requirement while lessening the stress of a busy spring semester.
The spring pre-session lasted three weeks, and Holst’s class meet four days a week, three hours a day.
“You’re learning a lot of information in three weeks, but I still feel like it’s been a lot less stressful, and more fun,” Holst said. “We have a lecture each day, and we also get to go down to the kitchen lab or the food micro lab and do activities that help us understand what we’ve just heard in the lecture.”
During the 2023 spring pre-session, 68 courses were offered in 108 class sections. Total student enrollment was 1,764.
Holst found the course enlightening, and helpful.
“Trying all the different foods was my favorite part of the class,” she said. “Obviously, the prime example that everyone knows about is blue cheese, but there are so many foods that most don’t know about or don’t realize are fermented. Our professor brought in tons of samples, and we got to make our own.
“Having that exposure to all these other kinds of foods that I didn’t realize existed has been really cool, and helped me try new ways of creating foods, and my senior capstone will be in product development. I also hope to have a career in product development.”
Though a senior, this was the first time Holst took a pre-session course, but said students should give it a shot.
“It’s a great way to use this time,” she said. “If you’re not doing something else during these three weeks, it’s a great way to learn something new and earn credit for it.”