Concordia has put in extra effort this year to boost interest in summer school by offering brand-new classes, flexible online options and a large selection of courses. This summer, Concordia will offer over 100 classes, the largest number of summer classes the college has ever offered.
Dr. Cynthia Carver, chair of Division of Professional Programs at Concordia, said that the number of online classes, accelerated classes and summer-only classes, have doubled from last year. She said she has noticed that students actively discuss summer school, and is excited to see the enrollment numbers after registration is complete.
“I’ll be surprised if we don’t see at least the same level of interest from last year,” Carver said. “Last year was the first year we made a really concerted effort to reinvigorate summer school.”
Several summers ago, President William Craft put together the New Programs Group and asked Carver to be the chair of it. Faculty and administrators serving on the group were looking at what kinds of programs the college would want to get involved with.
“One of the major [ideas] that emerged was reinvigorating summer school for the benefit of our students, because we think there really are a lot of benefits,” Carver said.
Some benefits of summer school are the possibility of adding a major or minor, having more time to focus on a particularly challenging or interesting class and the potential to graduate early, Carver said.
Also, according to Carver, a lot of students want to take online classes because they understand that employers want to see students who have done some learning in an online environment, because much of the training and development in companies happens online.
“I think the biggest thing that has held summer school back has been the lack of flexibility,” Carver said. “Students feel the need to get out there and start summer jobs and internships, and oftentimes they’re anxious to get home.”
However, online classes now give students the flexibility to be anywhere, and sometimes allow them to work at a pace that suits them.
Carver said she has been working to increase student interest by offering more classes, cooperating with SGA and engaging more professors.
“There are many new and different things that [faculty] could do during the summer that they’re not able to do during the school year,” Carver said.
For instance, English professor Dr. Amy Watkin will teach one of two classes on Harry Potter for the first time this summer.
“I offered to teach it because I love Harry Potter,” Watkin said. “I’m also very interested in pop culture, popular fiction and the divide between the classic stuff that we feel like we’re supposed to study and the fun stuff that we’re not supposed to study for some reason, and Harry Potter bridges that gap in some interesting ways.”
In addition to Watkin’s class, results of SGA’s initiative are the courses “Psychology and Neuroscience of Sleep” with Dr. Mikel Olson, “Psychology of Sexuality” with Dr. Philip Lemaster and “Harry Potter: Liberal Arts for Wizards and Muggles” with Dr. Dawn Duncan.
According to Watkin, the student interest in the Harry Potter courses seems to be high. Hopefully, the course can be offered on later occasions as well.
“The dream would be that one day the course would also travel to London and visit Harry Potter studios,” Watkin said. “But we’ll see how it goes this year.”
Watkin’s course “Harry Potter: Champion of Pop Culture” is a result of students’ votes on new summer classes. Students had the opportunity to submit ideas for new classes to SGA President Tanner Knutson.
“The purpose was to create some new classes, but I think the bigger purpose was to create some excitement around summer classes,” Knutson said. “It was really fun to get all these students’ input on what they would like to see.”