For some college students the start of summer means sandy beaches, cool waves and time away from the books and the classroom.
For others, it means cracking open a laptop and getting back to work.
Last week, several area colleges and institutions began their summer course schedule. While many students only take classes during the standard fall and spring sessions, others choose to utilize summer courses either to catch up on credits, to stay on a certain graduation pace or simply to get ahead. A student seeking to enroll in summer courses may notice something when browsing through the options.
A majority of summer courses are available online.
“Costs have changed,” Steve Mills, University Center of Southern Oklahoma president, said. “Budget cuts have driven a lot of colleges to online courses.”
Mills said of the roughly 100 courses offered at UCSO during the summer, just more than half are online. While costs have moved some institutions to the online domain, Mills said students are also changing the ways they take in and learn information.
“Students are kind of shopping,” Mills said, noting students can take online courses through different institutions and find their specific need. Online courses also don’t limit students’ class options, as
geographic location isn’t a factor, allowing them to search for a low cost options or a specific course.
Other area colleges have seen similar numbers through online courses, particularly in the summer months. East Central University told The Ardmoreite that of the 1070 summer hours being taken, 745 of them — or 69 percent — are online. The university reported 674 students enrolled in summer courses in 2017. Of those, just more than 55 percent — or 372 — of those students are classified as “nontraditional” students. Non-traditional students are typically labeled as students who are on a part-time status or are older than the commonly thought age of a college student.
Mills noted that institutions offer a large catalog of summer courses, but those numbers come down once enrollment is set in stone. Some courses lend themselves to an online format, while others, such as nursing courses, require the in-person structure. Mills said steadily the percentage of classes offered online have edged higher, with a 30-70 or 40-60 ratio of online to in-person classes not being unheard of.
Mills said he doesn’t believe colleges will ever “be 100 percent online,” but said percentages as high as 50 percent or higher could become common place over time. Mills said many colleges have been putting more assets into online courses, creating dedicated ITV broadcasting rooms, computer labs and more technology access on campus. Mills said even with increased online courses, campuses offer Wi-Fi access, hardware and internet speeds that students seek out.
“You have to accommodate for a lot more than you used to,” Mills said. “You need more than just standing room for a teacher nowadays.”