An Overview of Summer Session Planning

As we have done for the past two years, the plan is once again to post the full schedule of summer session courses on the web on January 25, 2017. More detail about the deadlines for summer session course schedules will be provided from the Dean’s Office in each college. Registration for summer courses will still start the first day after spring break (Monday, March 7, 2016). Here’s the full calendar of summer session planning activities.

While we distributed a survey to students in the past two years to gauge student interest in summer courses, we are taking a break from that this year. The last two surveys made it clear that juniors made up the largest percentage of the group responding with interest in taking summer courses, followed by seniors. The three leading reasons students selected for taking summer courses were (1) to get caught up in order to be able to graduate on time, (2) to take a course they hadn’t been able to schedule in the fall/spring semester, and (3) to get ahead in order to be able to graduate sooner.

Students expressed far more interest in taking courses in their major than in taking general education courses. Forty-five percent of the responses stated that taking “courses in my major/degree program” was the area of greatest interest, about double the number of responses for taking a general education course.

Not surprisingly, prior surveys indicated that 10:15 a.m. and 1 p.m. were the two most popular times for taking a class and there’s no reason to believe that’s changed much. Despite those responses, it’s important to recognize that different students have needs that may not always show up on surveys. Some students, with summer jobs, might value the option to take an 8 a.m. class while non-traditional students might appreciate the option to take a class in the evenings.

In the last survey, 18% of the responses indicated interest in taking a course online, which was backed up by the strong enrollment performance of the online courses offered last summer. (See the other story that addresses online summer enrollments in a bit more detail.)

Three years ago, we inaugurated a specific summer session “marketing plan” we had worked out with Malcolm Holmes in the University Marketing Department. The biggest change in last year’s approach was the use of a summer session “tagline” to help organize and coordinate marketing efforts. We looked at what a number of other universities were doing, formulated our own proposed ideas, and even used one of Dr. Kashef Majid’s marketing classes to get student feedback. Last year’s choice was: “Catch Up. Get Ahead. Take Something New.” Perhaps you saw some of the advertising.

I will again be working with Malcolm to revise our approaches and to plan this year’s tagline. These planning activities will be under development in January. If you have suggestions for us to consider, please send them my way. We have some ideas but are interested in any other input you’d care to share.

It’s our hope that the strategies outlined above will help enable us to produce the strongest possible set of summer session offerings for summer 2017.

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