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Students grapple with potential obstacles, drawbacks of summer courses

Ohio University students have had to face obstacles associated with Summer Semester courses this year, including the mostly online setting and the cancellation of meal plans for those in-person. 

OU offers numerous summer courses, which are normally taught either in-person, online or through a hybrid format. However, Candace Boeninger, vice president for enrollment management, said only about a third of the campus-based classes are being held in-person this summer in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and maximize safety on campus. 

Additionally, the number of summer classes available to students this year is lower compared to recent summers, Boeninger said in an email. This change may be accounted for by shared online sections, which are spread across regional campuses to maximize availability. 

“The schedule of classes is driven largely by students’ academic needs, prioritizing offerings that help students graduate on time and on plan,” Boeninger said in an email. 

While final enrollment numbers are not available, the impact of the pandemic is only part of the decrease in enrollment this summer. Enrollment changes from the prior year have also contributed to the decline in Summer Semester enrollment, Boeninger said in an email. 

Lauren Reed, a sophomore studying journalism, is signed up for consumer marketing this summer and said she was not heavily impacted by the lack of class selection. 

“There weren't as many as I hoped, but again it's understandable because it's the summer and I know that there's less demand,” Reed said. “I was able to find a class that definitely does benefit me.”

In order to graduate on time, Reed said she plans to take summer classes to make her future easier. She also said the online setting of her asynchronous class is convenient this summer. 

“My schedule is so busy this summer that it would have been tough with any sort of transportation,” Reed said. “It being online is really helpful for me with everything else that I'm balancing.”

Unlike Reed, Deontae Brown, a sophomore studying anthropology, is taking an in-person class through the university this summer and is living in James Hall, located at OU’s Athens campus, for the semester. 

“It's a good way to get a lot done, since it's eight credit hours in a very short amount of time…We're outside every day, actually digging and looking for artifacts around the area,” Brown said. “We're not even in the classroom, so it's easy to spread out…I think everyone has their own room.”

Overall, Brown said he’s satisfied with his summer class, despite his concern regarding OU canceling his meal plan at the beginning of the summer through an email. Brown said the email cited a lack of people signing up for his meal plan as reason to cancel it. 

“It's just kind of an inconvenience to not having a dining hall open because then class, after a hard day working out in the field digging holes…I have to go to Walmart and buy food and then I have to make my food,” Brown said. “I don't really eat (until) like seven or eight sometimes and that's aggravating.”

While Brown’s class was too large of a time commitment for him to sign up for any additional summer classes, he was offered financial aid from the university for taking the course. 

“I was able to get $10,000 off just for taking the actual field school,” Brown said. “I guess they needed more people to register.”

The cost of the summer classes are approved by the OU Board of Trustees annually and set at a fixed rate for the fall, spring and summer. 

“Full-time degree-seeking undergraduate students at Ohio University enjoy the benefits of the OHIO Guarantee, the state’s first fixed tuition and fees pricing guarantee, which provides predictability and transparency for all four years or twelve semesters of undergraduate study, including summers,” Boeninger said in an email. 

Conversely, Reed has not yet applied for any financial aid. 

“Since it's one class, I haven't really done much in the way of financial aid,” Reed said. “It's not really something that's on the top of my priority, but definitely in future years if I ever take more than one I think that’s something I would want to look into.”

Students are able to apply for federal and state financial aid throughout the Summer Semester through grants and loans. Students can still sign up for financial aid by completing the 2021-22 Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is used to award financial aid to students for summer 2021, Boeninger said. 

Despite the potential drawbacks of summer classes this year for those online and in-person, OU continues to encourage students to sign up for summer classes. 

“Summer at OHIO provides flexibility to students through full-length classes offered the entire summer semester, as well as two shorter-format summer sessions,” Boeninger said in an email. “Summer is a great time for students to pick up a class to either help them focus on a subject area, catch up, or get ahead.” 

July 2 is the last day to register for second summer session classes.  


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