This summer Tech is expanding course offerings in an attempt to increase enrollment. With the recent budget crisis, Tech needs the increased summer tuition revenue to achieve its financial goals. Still, the expanded course options should also help students create a useful schedule.
“In the budget is 14 million dollars of student tuition, and if we had students not come, our [shortfall] would be even bigger,” said Andy Smith, senior vice provost for Academic Affairs.
Many schools initially reduced summer courses to cut costs. However, the reduction of available courses would restrict the flow of crucial tuition dollars during the summer months.
Smith worked to create an incentive plan to help colleges improve summer course variety. The departments will receive additional funding that matches tuition revenue for each additional summer credit hour enrolled.
By offering key courses that are required in students’ curriculums, these departments will also improve the prospect of a summer at Tech. “You certainly have a greater variety of courses, and so you should be able to find courses that move you toward your degree,” Smith said. “Before, you just had to take what you could get because there weren’t that many offerings.”
Students have experienced difficulty planning an effective summer semester, due to relatively few courses being offered beyond core requirements.
Previously, an effective summer semester required scheduling an entire year. “If you look at what you are taking in spring, fall and summer, you can rearrange [your schedule] appropriately,” said Patrick Eisenmann, third-year CS major.
The Hope scholarship requires a full-time schedule, creating further difficulties. “I ended up taking CS 1316 one summer rather than taking something more useful because I needed 12 hours,” Eisenmann said. While students have been able to fulfill elective requirements, available courses may not have been desirable or beneficial.
Professors also have a different outlook on teaching summer courses. Like many students, faculty can have a reduced course load.
“I think it’s easier for me to do a better job during the summer, because my teaching load is a bit less,” said Peter Vantine, professor in the College of Management. Tech professors are currently not required to teach summer courses, and many professors spend the time outside of the classroom.
Tech’s increased summer schedule has importance beyond finances, with Tech’s administration investigating a transition to a trimester system. Under this system, which is pending approval by the Board of Regents, Tech would offer three equal terms of 14 weeks each year.
A trimester system has several benefits for the administration. A key financial benefit of trimesters is the ability to better utilize campus resources.
“During the summer, we almost have to close down buildings. Now, we are able to use them,” Smith said. Trimesters would also make it easier for colleges to plan courses, because each academic term will be the same length.
Enhanced summers, in either the current or trimester form, should help students. Offering the same courses more times per year will give students better flexibility in scheduling. For instance, co-op students will be able to take essential courses every semester, and all students will have the option of using summer courses to graduate from Tech sooner.