Summer break could become a nostalgic notion at DePaul when an aggressive plan to expand summer school takes hold. In recent years, credit hours awarded during the summer months have been roughly one-sixth of the credit hours awarded in each of the fall, winter or spring quarters. That’s going to change in summer 2013 as one of the first major initiatives of DePaul’s new strategic plan “Vision 2018: Dedication to Excellence, Commitment to Community” is implemented.
Expanded summer school creates many advantages for students. It will make more course offerings available and provide advanced notice of the exact courses to be offered so students can work with their advisors to design their schedules, according to Anne Clark Bartlett, special assistant to the Provost for Innovation and Academic Planning.
“Our plan is to help students move toward advanced courses faster and graduate sooner,” she says.
The pilot year of the strategy will prompt a modest increase from the 48,000 credit hours awarded in summer 2012 to about 50,000 expected in summer 2013. The trend will move upward from there in subsequent years. Though enrollment will likely never reach the 300,000 an average fall, winter or spring quarter generates, it will give thousands of DePaul and other college students new and easier ways to complete their degrees on a timely basis.
Certain types of courses are well-suited for intensive summer study, says Bartlett. Foreign languages, organic chemistry, and writing courses are among those in which immersion is beneficial. Furthermore, students who must retake a class may find it easier to succeed by studying that topic every day rather than
once a week. Ahead of the game
Bartlett praises the College of Communication because it is “very intentional about its summer schedule.” And in the Driehaus College of Business, ambitious undergraduates can already graduate in three years if they plan their summer courses carefully. The School of Hospitality Leadership is planning to offer classes leading to a minor, while students from all majors will be able to take more online versions of liberal studies courses. Meanwhile, students in the College of Science and Health can take a full year of physics, chemistry or calculus through intensive course sequencing in June, July and August.
“We’d like to see these kinds of options take hold across the university,” Bartlett says.
Many types of students will likely pursue expanded summer course offerings. The most important population is DePaul students trying to accelerate a degree, catching up due to a course failure or replacing a course missed after a quarter off. Summer classes also can provide scheduling flexibility to accommodate internships or Study Abroad during the regular quarters.
Students from other universities who return home to the Chicago area for the summer can take courses that will transfer back to their home institutions. Some high school students will be eligible to take specific courses that will earn them college credit before they enroll, charging out of the collegiate starting block with a big advantage. Adults seeking certifications or specific business courses are yet another potential audience.
“The sky is the limit on capacity,” Bartlett says. “We just need to better understand students’ needs and figure out how summer teaching works best for faculty.”
Big plans are in the works for summer 2014 when courses of different lengths and varying amounts of credit depending on the duration will be available in person, online or in hybrid format.