What is Mini Term

What is a Mini-Mester

By Maureen Leming

Deep learning doesn't just happen inside the classroom. Many schools, especially private and boarding schools, extend learning into the community through interdisciplinary, project-based mini-mesters.

What exactly is a mini-mester course or a mini-term? Short for a miniature semester, this jampacked class gives students the chance to take part in an intensive course for credit that involves real-world experiences, hands-on learning, and travel opportunities. Whether a school is in a capital city or a rural community, a mini-term offers a multitude of benefits and growth opportunities. Perhaps most importantly, these courses empower young adults to explore their passions, sharpen their skills and find solutions to the world's most pressing challenges.

Characteristics of Mini-Terms

Are you a student considering enrolling in a school with mini-terms, but you're not sure what "mini-mester" means? While it plays out a little differently in every school, look for these characteristics in the mini-term at your prospective school:

  • Short class timeline: Most mini-mester courses are one week to eight weeks in length. The Hun School, for example, offers a three-week immersion learning experience every May.
  • School credit: While mini-terms are designed to be engaging, they're also graded for school credit — giving you the chance to earn several credits in one intensive fell swoop. Some courses may involve tests and homework like a normal class. In contrast, project-based mini-mesters might involve collaborative and cumulative presentations or projects.
  • Local, domestic, and international travel: Schools with traveling mini-terms give students the opportunity to immerse themselves in real-world issues impacting communities. Some programs will explore the school's hometown or a nearby city. Others will bring learning to life in a whole new way by immersing students in the language, culture, and history of a new country.
  • Mandatory vs. optional: As you research schools with mini-terms, consider whether they offer a mini-mester on an optional or required basis. If optional, consider the many benefits of a mini-mester course to see if it's the right fit for you.

The Benefits of a Mini-Term

During a mini-term, the world becomes your classroom. Mini-mesters give students the chance to immerse themselves in vigorous, active learning for a short period. When you return to a regular schedule, your real-world experiences will supplement classroom lessons and contribute to a truly well-rounded education.

Want a few more reasons to choose a school with mini-terms? Here are the top four benefits of a mini-mester course.

  1. Focus Deeply on One Topic
    During the typical school year, students juggle classes, homework, clubs, sports, and other activities. If there's a specific topic that piques your interest, finding the time to explore it can be a challenge.

    A mini-term will give you the chance to push aside some of the busyness. Forget the million and one things that normally call your attention — this time is just for one topic and you. Throw yourself into a language you've long been trying to master and immerse yourself in it fully. Explore the nitty-gritty of a specific historical period until you feel you've been transported in time. Experience new literature or study science with an intensity you'd never gain during the regular semester.

    You can even combine a range of subjects for a fascinating interdisciplinary perspective into a topic, like The Hun School's NextTerm. No matter your choice, you'll dive into content more deeply during a mini-term.
  2. Discover the World With a Traveling Mini Term
    Imagine sitting in a history class learning about how western policies have affected the people of Ghana throughout the years. But what if you could actually travel to Ghana and interact with people and tribes who have been impacted firsthand, and hear their stories of economic, environmental, and social development that directly resulted from those policies? This kind of immersion-learning experience is an ideal fit for a mini-term, and it's a much more impactful way to learn about Ghana in the 21st Century.
  3. Receive Mentorship and Practice Teamwork
    During the regular school year, one-on-one attention is always our goal — but even with our small classes, it's not always possible. Everything changes during a mini-mester, where classes are often team-taught by two or three faculty members. This setup gives each student the opportunity to receive individualized guidance and mentorship. As a student, you'll spend all your time with just one class, giving you more time for teamwork, brainstorming, and collaboration. Mini-mesters offer the chance to grow deeply not just in knowledge, but also in relationships.
  4. Explore Real-World Issues and Solutions
    Education isn't just preparation for a further degree — it's preparation to thrive as a global citizen in the real world. During a mini-term, students are empowered to apply their learning to help solve a real-world problem, from creating guides for America’s National Parks to exploring the intricacies of immigration.

    Through venturing deeply into both local and global issues, mini-mester courses help develop students into more aware and active citizens. They enrich a student's education by bringing a textbook to life — often in the most eye-opening and enduring ways.

Experience an Interdisciplinary Mini-Mester at Hun

The Hun School — located in Princeton, NJ with easy access to Philadelphia and New York — cultivates a joyful community of learners that are prepared to thrive in a world of constant change. Through individual mentorship and student-centered lessons, the school nurtures resilient character and cultural competency in a supportive environment.

At the Hun Upper School, NextTerm courses offer an immersion learning mini-mester experience for ninth, tenth, and eleventh-grade students. For three weeks in May, students participate in an exploration of real-world subjects, with 16 different courses to choose from.

Together with the Hun Upper School's focus on college preparation and college counseling, NextTerm gives high school students the chance to discover the world and their place in it.

To learn more about life and learning at The Hun School, please fill out an inquiry form to get more information. We also invite you to schedule a tour of our idyllic 45-acre campus to get a real look at our school! We look forward to getting to know you!

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