In the face of job scarcity and rising tuition rates, students appear to be turning to summer courses, studying their way through those warmer months and bringing CSU to a 4.4 percent increase in their Summer Session enrollment from 2009.
Up to a total of 6,116 students –– 259 more than last year’s 5,857 students –– are registered for courses this summer, according to Randy Larkins, the assistant director of CSU’s Summer Session.
Of these students, 5,234 are undergraduates and 882 are graduate students, with veterinary medicine students left out of that total.
Even the number of credit hours has increased this year, moving from 30,481 hours to 32,419 hours, a 6.4 percent increase from 2009.
An “unexpected but welcome rise in enrollment,” Larkins said he suspects this increase may be a result of this year’s continued slum in employment and economic stability.
If these conditions continue, he said in an e-mail interview, “students may instead choose to finish their education at a faster rate,” taking classes in time that would have been spent at a part time job.
To better understand these trends in summer enrollment, CSU’s Summer Session conducted a non-random survey of 1,158 students over the last three summers that asked students why they had chosen those sessions.
Nearly 30 percent of students said the courses would help them to graduate earlier or on time, and about that same percentage of students preferred the length of the course –– most summer courses are four weeks long –– because it was a more condensed syllabus.
Summer courses have their benefits, among them being smaller, more concentrated classes and improved teacher-student interaction, Larkins said.
Other land grant universities are also seeing the same enrollment trends, with the University of Wyoming in Laramie reporting an almost 6 percent increase in their on-campus summer enrollment.
At this point in the summer, there are about 3,100 students enrolled, with an additional 2,300 students taking courses through their outreach program (which include online courses).
For their students, the reasons seem to be the same as for CSU, said Noah Buckley, the director of admissions for Wyoming.
“Some are not necessarily able to get jobs while others are anxious to get done as soon as they can,” he said. For freshmen, he said, there are additional advantages, with some able to take courses over the summer before their fall semester to get a head start on prerequisites.
For CSU, Larkins said he doesn’t expect a drop in summer enrollment any time soon, even with higher education funding in the balance.
And with such high enrollment numbers, students are seeing more courses offered, the newest including courses in geology, experimental theater, women’s studies and international tourism, Larkins said.
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Reasons to take summer courses
To graduate early/on time
Fulfill prerequisite courses
Prepare for a new program, major or graduate school
Take courses only offered during the summer
Repeat/Delete courses for better grades
To lighten fall and spring course loads