Summer enrollment, a facet of academic life at CC, has had an uncertain year.
Over the course of the academic year, enrollment in CC’s summer courses has increased to target levels, but was initially disappointingly slow. Potential causes of this torpor include a more career-oriented student body, an increasingly skill-oriented student body, and, simply, a lack of motivation.
CC’s Associate Dean of Global, Community, and Summer Programs Eric Popkin reports that enrollment for international summer courses remained fairly stable in relation to previous years, despite a less-than-promising start.
“Enrollment was slower this year, but it did happen,” Popkin said. “Not sure why that is the case. Perhaps students have more options available to them through the college—internships, for example.”
CC’s summer courses abroad offer a uniquely immersive version of the Block Plan; students are physically immersed in the material they are studying as well as mentally. Professor Gale Murray finds that it provides learning benefits that are otherwise elusive.
“Study abroad provides the opportunity to see and study original works of art and to gain a greater sense of their cultural contexts,” Murray said. “The abroad experience in general broadens students’ perspectives about culture, ethnicity, and, ultimately, about themselves and their place in the world.”
Sophomore Rachel Severson attributed her enjoyment of a summer block abroad to the variety of settings her “Italian in Italy” summer course with Sanjaya Thakur provided. “It was a really great time, and it was really engaging to be learning about the material in a setting that was so different from the classroom,” Severson said.
According to CC’s Director of Summer Session Ann Van Horn, this year’s process of enrollment was merely an exaggeration of the sequence that usually happens throughout the academic year.
“It has taken longer to get CC students to enroll. Every year, [it] seems to be a pattern that CC students want to weigh all their options. And earlier in the year…the international courses seemed to be competing with summer internships and things, but they seem to have met their goals,” Van Horn said.
Van Horn also emphasized that CC students are making final decisions about whether or not to enroll in a summer course remarkably late.
“I’m still riding some students about whether or not they are going to take a summer course at this point in the year,” Van Horn said.
Some professors theorize that students flock to certain types of classes because of graduation requirements. That ideal class typically fulfills a language requirement or provides an opportunity otherwise unavailable to the student.
“My classes are packed,” Bizzarro said. “I think that students like our program because, one, they get a language credit. Second, if you’re an Interntional Political Economy major, you have to take two years of a language. A lot of those kids do it for their second year.”
Bizzarro also notices that students whose majors are not conducive with taking an entire semester abroad are often drawn to the international summer courses.
“A lot of science majors who will never travel outside of Barnes and Olin do it because it’s the one time they can take a language and study abroad. Otherwise, they’ll spend four years here without that opportunity.”
When it comes to summer courses on CC’s campus, enrollment is starting to be dominated by non-CC students.
“We’ve already canceled two Block A courses, so I don’t know about the rest of the summer. We also have applications from pre-college students as well as students from other institutions,” Van Horn said.
Overall, summer enrollment has reached the previously targeted quantities.
“Number of students for off campus (global and domestic) courses for summer 2013 is great – about 165 students of which 150 students are going abroad and about 15 to Chicago. This number is a very good number and is equal to or slightly exceeds the number we usually get each summer,” Popkin said.
Bizzarro argues that a decrease in international summer courses may simply be a reflection of a lack of desire on the part of professors to undertake those courses.
“It’s a big commitment to the teachers’ careers and to their families…you really have to find someone very involved in the material,” Bizzarro said.
Some question whether an increased focus on career paths has diverted interest away from summer courses and toward more work-oriented pursuits such as internships.
“Parents do tend to want their kids to do something that is going to build their resume or enhance their career in some way,” Van Horn said.
Each CC student is afforded one free “wild card” block that can be taken outside of the regular academic year. With such an impressive opportunity, it does seem unlikely that students have not been clamoring to sign up for summer courses.