Winter Term enrollment increases

Mackenzie Mathews

Winter Term experienced an increase in enrollment this year with a total of 2,139 students engaging in online, travel and in-class courses. 

Beth Laves, associate vice president of Extended Learning and Outreach, said Winter Term allows students a chance to raise their GPA. It can also allow them to graduate faster than they would having only taken classes during fall and spring semesters.

“Winter Term gives students the opportunity to catch up on a missed class, concentrate on one more challenging course, or even get ahead in their hours,” she said.

Laves said research has recently shown that taking classes between semesters promotes retention and the ability to graduate within four years due to continuing classwork during breaks.

“Our research shows that Winter Term promotes retention by bridging the gap between semesters, which encourages students to continue in the spring,” she said. 

Alicia Bingham, summer and winter program coordinator, said students take advantage of several opportunities offered through Winter Term.

“If they dropped a class in the fall, they can pick it up in the Winter Term, so that can catch them up,” she said. 

“It’s also a good way to get ahead. Students can progress towards their graduation faster and lighten their load in the fall and spring, if they plan it out correctly.”

A GPA drop during the semester has led to several students saving their financial aid residuals in order to pick up a class over the break, and taking courses through study away or study abroad has also created a greater interest in winter classes.

Bingham said travel study programs have raised by almost fifty students, as well as an increase in online courses, giving students a convenient alternative to classes. 

“I think it was that we offered the courses that students seemed to need,” she said.

Bingham said the enrollment increase was caused by several factors, such as winter programs marketed towards freshmen and sophomores. 

Bingham said it was important undergraduates were aware of winter programs.

“We wanted to get freshmen and sophomores to at least know what Winter Term was,” she said. “That way they could plan on it, and, actually, we saw an increase in our freshmen and sophomore numbers.”

There are several improvements winter programs are preparing to make in order to increase student success. 

Laves said a concept committee has been formed that includes Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Campus Services, and faculty representatives.

Bingham said one goal is to bring more students back on campus earlier than when spring semester begins.

“We have MASTER Plan in the fall, but we don’t have anything like that for students that start in the spring, and we have quite a few students that actually start in the spring,” she said. 

“We’re looking at ideas of increasing engagement on campus before the spring semester actually starts, since we are out for so long.”