WKU summer sessions see decrease in student enrollment

Elliott Pratt

Programs like Study Abroad and Navitas at WKU are becoming more and more popular every year. While those are two of the thriving areas of interest at WKU, the university has seen a slight drop in student enrollment for this year’s summer terms.

This parallels the numbers from the spring semester. The Division of Extended Learning and Outreach says the number of students taking summer school has decreased from the 2012 summer sessions.

Last year, the university registered 10,688. Through May term and basing off of the number of current students registered for June and July courses, this year’s student enrollment looks to drop to 9,963.

The summer participation as a whole may be down, but enrollment for the month of May is higher than a year ago. May term in 2012 had 3,016 registered students. This year’s May term has seen 3,570 students enrolled.

But there are a few departments that have seen a spike in student enrollment.

Health and Human Services, Study Abroad, and the Navitas programs have seen significant increases.

DELO shows that the College of Health and Human Services has seen a 14 percent increase in student enrollment for the summer. Study Abroad experienced a 55 percent jump from last year’s enrollment.

The Navitas program has seen the most significant growth. With the program’s birth at WKU coming just last year, student enrollment jumped from six to 66.

Navitas at WKU director Marie Neal said the summer time months give the program an upper hand

“I think international students will tend to stay in the summer to move their studies along,” Neal said. “Knowing that they don’t have to go back home and can stay is a good thing for them progress faster. So it’s like another semester for them.”

Laura Ricke, director of academic outreach at DELO, said the program offers more than academic access for international students.

“It’s a relatively new program, so I think they are just now starting to take hold and grow, “Ricke said. “Navitas is bigger than an academic program. It’s more like a support program as well. I think you’re starting to see that their recruitment is starting to grow.”

Ricke also added that five online dual enrollment courses were added to the summer schedule.  71 high school students are participating in dual credit courses offered online by WKU.

“We didn’t really know what the demand would be in summer, so we were thrilled to see this many students respond for the first time because it’s not something students would know about and plan on,” Ricke said. “We were just able to finalize a selection of courses in April, so this is kind of a pilot.”

Study Abroad had 84 new students register for the 2013 summer trips. Advisor Katherine Hale said opportunities have opened doors to allow more students to travel internationally.

“We’ve seen growth in almost every area,” Hale said. “We’ve had more faculty led programs than ever, we’re sending more students on exchanges than ever, and most of our provider programs such as KIIS are allowing more students than ever to go on their summer programs.”

Ricke said the reason to a decrease in student enrollment could be due to a slowly rising economy.

“It’s just my conjecture, but some of it might be related to the improving economy,” Ricke said. “People are having an easier time getting employment now, and some people were using benefits to come to college driven from unemployment.”