June 18, 2008

College’s Summer Coursework Hits High

By Michele Steinbacher

By Michele [email protected]

NORMAL - More students are choosing Heartland Community College as a place to take summer courses. And of those enrolling this summer, it appears many are taking heavier loads than in the past.

The Heartland board of trustees learned Tuesday that preliminary enrollment shows 2,376 students on campus for college-credit courses, a nearly 10 percent increase compared to summer 2007.

And the 11,272 credit hours being taught are a record high for summer enrollment. Attributing this year's increases to any particular cause would be speculation at this point, said Kathleen Collins, the college's dean of student services and academic support.

But she guesses savvy four-year university students back home for summer are opting to take Heartland classes because the school's reputation promises quality education at a fraction of the four- years' tuition.

Another realistic possibility, she said, is more students looking to use summer months to get ahead in their studies. Increasingly, universities are reporting students find it difficult to complete a bachelor's degree within the four-year window without enrolling in summer school.

The increase in summer enrollment turns back a slight downward trend the college had seen with summer classes.

Looking at percentages, the changes appeared significant. But in real numbers, it only represented slight changes. "It's not quite flat, but we've always been over 2,000," since 2004, said Collins. She finds it more significant that students are opting to take heavier summer loads.

While 2,368 students took classes in summer 2005, that had decreased to 2,287 by the following year, and then 2,167 last year. The number of classes showed an equal trend: 10,646 credit hours were taught in summer 2005. But the next year, it went down to 10,544 and then 9,893 last year.

Also at the meeting, the board learned construction now is under way for several aspects of the Phase II construction. In 2009, the receiving building and college child care center should be ready, said Rob Widmer, business and finance vice president.

The board also heard a report from faculty member Ed Carroll regarding the progress of development of a Heartland honors program at the college, starting in fall 2009. Recruitment for the selective program, requiring at least a 25 for an ACT score, likely will begin in late 2008, said Allan Saaf, Heartland vice president of instruction.

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