A January Start

Even among the amazing group of people that make up the polity of St. John’s College, there’s something special about January Freshmen.

It’s probably not a surprise to hear that January Freshmen, often called just “JFs” (or “Febbies” in Annapolis), start their St. John’s journey in the spring semester instead of the fall. By starting in the spring, January Freshman are able to finish up their freshman year in the summer, start their sophomore year in the fall and graduate college in three and a half years instead of four.

For two semesters (spring and summer), the January Freshmen form one tight knit group. They usually number about twenty-five, and have all of their classes with their fellow JFS. By the time August rolls around, this group knows each other very well and they’ve formed incredibly strong relationships with the books and each other. Even though January Freshman are then able to join the larger sophomore class, when I talk to Johnnie who started as JFs it’s clear that their bond persists throughout their time at St. John’s and beyond.

Spending a summer semester at St. John’s is a experience worth having in itself. Summer in Annapolis brings perfect weather for boating and swimming, touring various historic homes and gardens, and plenty of other summer delights (ask me about how many ice cream shops are in walking distance of campus; I have a detailed list). Santa Fe summer brings some of the best weather you’ll ever experience, great hiking, gallery openings, and some of the largest art markets in the country (my personal favorite is the largest exhibition of indigenous arts in the world). On both campuses, JFs are the main summer residents and also have the chance to interact with summer-term Graduate students.

As an alumnus, I know the joy of meeting another Johnnie in the wild; immediately I know I have a lot in common with someone I’ve just met. If nothing else, we’ve read a lot of the same books! But I’ve noticed that that joy seems doubled when two JFs meet. It’s a shared experience within a shared experience; a challenge within a challenge. And of course, JFs are generally rarer, particularly since in most years only one of our two campuses hosts a January class.

But as with most things, this year is different. This spring will be the first time in over 15 years that Annapolis will have a January Freshman class. With cohorts on both campuses again, I think it’s a really exciting time to be a JF.  This year, students are starting in January in a greater number, often after having deferred a semester in the hopes of waiting out some of the worst effects of the pandemic. Despite the circumstances, more than anything I’m excited to see the January Freshmen swell their ranks and return to both campuses. And the January class is still a great home for transfer students, those who have taken a gap year, or those who are just so excited about reading and discussing some great books that they’re ready to start a semester early.

Working with incoming JFs has been one of my favorite things as an admissions counselor; as I’ve said, there really is something special about them. Virtually or in person, I can’t wait to welcome them in the New Year.

If the idea of starting college early at St. John’s sounds like an amazing adventure to you, and you’re ready to start, there’s still time to apply this December. Our January Freshman application deadline is January 4, 2021. If you have any questions about our program, our two beautiful campuses, or anything else please don’t hesitate to contact us here in the admissions office at admissions@sjc.edu.

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