With a 35-page Course Catalog and 544 events posted on CampusGroups, Wintersession 2023 offers a wide variety of courses, from “D&D Crash Course” to “Medical Skills 101.” The Daily Princetonian analyzed session dates, times, categories, and topics, revealing trends such as how most sessions are held on weekdays and how “Sustainability” is the category with the least number of offerings.
The ‘Prince’ obtained data on Wintersession courses from the official My PrincetonU events listing and categorized sessions based on the labels from the Wintersession Course Catalog. Using an online software, the ‘Prince’ was able to export and analyze 485 out of the 544 Wintersession courses found on My PrincetonU as of Jan. 2, constituting roughly 90 percent of the sample size.
This Wintersession, the first conducted with a majority of events in-person, is being held between Jan. 16 and Jan. 29, 2023. Courses are available to all undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, and faculty. Wintersession is run by the University’s Office of Campus Engagement (OCE).
“The Office of Campus Engagement relies a lot on individual groups, faculty, staff, and student organizations to really think through what they want to do, and what type of workshop they want to offer,” explained Gil Joseph ’25, one of five OCE Student Fellows who help lead Wintersession.
According to the course catalog, sessions listed under “How-to” and “Professional Growth” were most common, with 84 and 72 sessions of each category, respectively. The next most common category was “Evening Events,” with 52, followed by 44 listed under “Arts” and 42 each for both “Wellness and Community” and “Trips.” Each section of an event with multiple sections was counted as an individual session. The catalog does not include events like sports games and some trips, which are a part of the Campus Groups page.
“There’s just such a diversity of course offerings, which allows you to do things that you never thought that you were going to do if you did not have the opportunity,” said Ryan Champeau ’23, a Whitman RCA and co-host of “Sushi, Ice Cream, and More: NYC Food Tour”.
Analysis of the additional labels listed on sessions beyond their overarching categories shows that “Fitness and Strength” listed under “How-to” was the most common type of Wintersession course, with 34 sessions offered. Close behind were “101” events and “Careers and Professional Development,” both of which had 27 sessions. In contrast, “Sustainability” and “Rejuvenation and Relaxation,” both listed under “Wellness and Community,” only had three and seven sessions, respectively.
Organization partnerships with OCE may be a reason for the discrepancy between the number of courses offered in each category.
Regarding the high number of “Fitness and Strength” offerings, Joseph shared that “Campus Rec has a lot to do with that, because that is what they do. I think they have a very solid partnership with OCE, because they understand that Wintersession is an opportunity for them to have more events surrounding exercising and athletics.”
“The Office of Sustainability on campus is still up and coming,” Joseph continued, “so I’d be interested to see how that will change over the next few years. But I think that might be a reason [for the fewer courses offered,] as it depends on the strength of the department.”
Fifty-eight events were scheduled on Thursday, Jan. 19, making it the Wintersession day with the most events held. Close behind was the previous day, Wednesday, Jan. 18, with 55 events. Very few sessions were scheduled over the weekend; only three percent of all offerings were held on Saturday, Jan. 21 and Sunday, Jan. 22. Towards the end of the second week of Wintersession, the number of events scheduled gradually decreased, falling from 54 sessions on Tuesday, Jan. 24 to just 9 on Sunday, Jan. 29.
Overall, most sessions were scheduled on weekdays, peaking near the middle of the week and waning towards the weekends. “Wintersession actually fixes the date, but you can request a change,” explained Austen Mazenko ’24, Whitman RCA and co-host of “Sushi, Ice Cream, and More: NYC Food Tour.”
Scheduled session start times varied less than scheduled start dates. The most common start time was 1 p.m. with 136 sessions followed by 10 a.m. with 117; together, these 253 sessions comprised roughly 52 percent of the dataset. Wintersession scheduled fewer events for early risers, with just 39 out of 485 events starting before 10 a.m.. The third most common start time for sessions was 7 p.m., with 41 sessions.
The scheduled time may play a role in which members of the community attend: athletes, who often have practices during the day, may benefit from evening events. Joseph highlighted Laser Tag as an “event where [athletes] could all go as a team to bond, as it was in the evening so they did not have practice.”
When asked about potential future Wintersession course offerings, Champeau said she would like to see more day-to-day events within the residential colleges. “People might just want to stay within their own college and do something like Wii, sushi, or something more low-key,” Champeau said.
Mazenko spoke about the value of Wintersession. “Generally speaking,” he said, “there is a want to be engaged.”
Elaine Huang is a head Data editor for The Daily Princetonian. She is a sophomore majoring in operations research and financial engineering (ORFE) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ryan Konarska is an assistant Data editor for The Daily Princetonian. He is a sophomore majoring in public and international affairs and can be reached at email@example.com.
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