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UNT sees increase in summer school enrollment

UNT sees increase in summer school enrollment

A UNT sponsored billboard towers over the Ridgecrest apartment complex in Denton. The billboard can be seen when driving west on I-35 before the 465A Teasley Lane exit. Photo by Edward Balusek / Staff Photographer

UNT sees increase in summer school enrollment
May 22
20:11 2014

Samantha McDonald // Staff Writer

After a decline that spanned four academic years, the University of North Texas is now seeing signs of growth in summer school enrollment among undergraduate and graduate students.

A report released Thursday showed a 1.9 percent increase in semester credit hours and a 0.5 percent increase in the head count of both graduate and undergraduate students from May 22 last year. Director of Summer Session David McEntire said that although the difference doesn’t seem significant, the decline is finally beginning to level off and further growth in summer enrollment is anticipated.

“The university has recognized the challenges we face,” he said. “Summer enrollments have been lower than normal over the past few years, but the trend is being reversed.”

In order to better assist in the development of summer programs, UNT created the directorship position last fall and appointed McEntire to find ways to increase enrollment for the semester.

McEntire said the decline in summer school enrollment could be attributed to limited financial resources to invest in summer sessions, increased faculty attention on research and grants, and rising tuition fees, which result in more students prioritizing jobs over classes during the summer months. However, the university recently adopted several strategies to boost enrollment rates in the summer semester, including social media advertising and a broad marketing campaign on campus.

“There’s been a blitz to really get the word out about summer session,” McEntire said. “The overall message that we’re trying to convey is that students who attend in the summer will be able to graduate quicker or on time.”

One of the key concerns in summer enrollment is the need to balance the classes offered by certain departments with the classes students are looking to take during that semester. Nicole Dash, associate dean at the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, said that although the university is doing the best it can to meet students’ needs with a limited budget, that balance is often hard to figure out.

“There simply is no way for every department to offer every class a student might need, so we need to work on understanding what the majority of students need to progress,” she said. “The more we can post future schedules of course offerings, the more students can plan ahead.”

To facilitate this, the Eagle Express Plan, a new tuition rate that starts in the fall, allows students to manage their college expenses through the option of locking in their academic costs based on the amount of hours they complete at UNT. After choosing to opt in, the plan can offer students savings of up to $4,000 if they graduate on time.

“Because of inflation and rising educational costs, tuition goes up almost every year,” McEntire said. “Under this plan, students may pay a little bit more up front, but then it’s locked in at that rate for four years.”

Interdisciplinary studies senior Amy Wilson said if given the chance, she would apply for the Eagle Express plan. As a student on scholarship, the benefits would include doubling her savings and more efficiently managing her academic year.

“It’s a good alternative for students who don’t get financial aid,” Wilson said. “The people who will take advantage of it will be the same people who really need it and maybe they’ll even see it as a positive incentive toward graduation.”

While financial matters and expected graduation dates make up most of the concerns in deciding whether to apply for summer classes, McEntire said that another benefit is in flexibility.

“The atmosphere is different in the summer semester than it is during the regular year,” he said. “It’s a different dynamic and you get to have fun in addition to your academic pursuits.”

Feature Photo: A UNT sponsored billboard towers over the Ridgecrest apartment complex in Denton. The billboard can be seen when driving west on I-35 before the 465A Teasley Lane exit. Photo by Visuals Editor Edward Balusek

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