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Summer classes more popular

BY CHRIS CURTLAND | JUNE 11, 2009 7:33 AM

School’s out for summer — but many UI students are back for more.

As of June 5, 10,707 students had enrolled for the summer sessions, and more are likely to do so, said Doug Lee, associate dean of continuing education, who runs the program.

Some students said they appreciate the less-congested campus and see the quieter time as an opportunity to complete course work.

Devin Anderson, who studies sustainability in business, is taking an eight-week session of Elementary Spanish I. He lauded the smaller student-to-teacher ratio.

“It’s good to get that extra attention,” he said.

But Anderson doesn’t expect the crunched courses to be easy.

“You’re forcing one semester’s work into a few weeks, so it is a lot of work,” he said.

Leslie Margolin, a professor in the College of Education, said he finds the intensity of a three-week class keeps material fresh in the minds of students and professors.

“It elevates their game,” he said. “It’s like a tournament; people can get exhausted at a tournament, but there’s also the intensity that pushes them to a higher level.”

Margolin said he believes the choice of spreading semester hours among the entire year — using three-, six-, and eight-week sessions — creates a student-friendly program that recognizes the importance of a diverse education.

“There’s less risk of burning out that way,” he said, and a less burdensome workload allows students to actually “have a life while they’re going to school.”

Other professors like their vacation time, though they are still doing work and catching up. Sean Scanlan, a visiting assistant professor who teaches half-time in the English department, uses the summer to prepare material for new courses and submit articles to academic journals.

But Scanlan admits that he would jump at the chance to teach during summer, even if it meant sacrificing time for scholarly ambitions.

“Summer courses are short and intensive, but the atmosphere is often very conducive to excellent learning for students and good opportunities for teachers to try out new material,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I am always looking to broaden my teaching experience.”

The Division of Continuing Education, which oversees the summer session, has tried to make the atmosphere more attractive to students, said Lee, the director.

He said summer classes were particularly beneficial in a struggling economy and slow job market.

“In addition to graduating quicker, there are some students who are using the summer to add credentials such as a minor or a certificate, which makes them more competitive in the job market,” he said.


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