How Summer Term Is Attracting More Students

We launched an effort to grow and expand the Summer Term several years ago, increasing courses both on-campus and online, and making a particular effort to offer courses needed to fill distribution requirements. We’ve also worked to expand the number of nontraditional UW students who can take advantage of our summer offerings. This is the third Summer Term since we started these changes. Here’s an update on how it’s going.

This summer, undergraduates flocked to popular courses like Principles of Microeconomics and Introductory Organic Chemistry Laboratory, accelerating their progress toward their degrees and preparing for future careers. They also tried out innovative new courses like Design & Make (Almost) Anything, which employed cutting-edge tools in the UW Makerspace.

The university worked harder than ever to serve diverse audiences in summer 2018, including incoming freshmen, precollege students, international students, and students visiting from other institutions. We did justice to the Wisconsin Idea by providing access to a wide range of learners around the state and around the world.

As a result, undergraduate enrollment increased 7 percent over summer 2017 to 8,298, and just under 15,000 total students were enrolled in summer courses. But not all of this resulted in a busier campus: Some of these courses were online. We want Summer Term to provide students more flexibility in their schedules, expanding their ability to complete an internship, study abroad, or work at a job, all while staying on track to graduate in four years, which helps keep their education affordable.

In ramping up Summer Term, we’ve been making it easier for students to take these courses. For instance, we’ve increased summer scholarship funding to more than 900 students, and we have a new Summer Housing Boost program that helped offset the cost of campus housing. We also launched a four-week session right after spring semester that attracted more than 1,000 students looking for a convenient way to fit Summer Term into their schedules.

It’s a pleasure to see people from all corners of the globe on our beautiful campus this summer. First-year mechanical engineering students got a head start in the new Mechanical Engineering Summer Launch. High school students explored the arts in Imaging Self, our first for-credit residential program for this cohort. Transfer students made valuable connections in the new Summer Transfer Employment Program. And a growing number of international students got a jumpstart through the International Student Summer Institute, which introduces them to the classroom, campus and community.

We all know summer in Madison is full of exceptional opportunities outside the classroom as well. Students can enjoy music on the Memorial Union Terrace, hikes in Picnic Point, and sailboats on Lake Mendota. Bucky Badger himself popped up at July’s Summer Term Ice Cream Social on the Terrace, where faculty, staff, and students enjoyed Babcock Hall’s finest scoops. Bucky posed with all comers and reminded us how lucky we were to be at UW-Madison on a beautiful summer day.

Revenue from Summer Term largely returns to the schools and colleges that offer the programs.  This allows them to reinvest in their students, staff, and infrastructure. For example, the School of Education will use summer revenues to hire a kinesiology faculty member for the proposed new major in health promotion and health equity. Over the past two academic years, the School of Human Ecology has used summer funds to support eight graduate assistant appointments.

How to top summer 2018? With summer 2019, of course. Expect more creative course offerings, career initiatives, certificate programs, and research opportunities, as well as scholarships and programs that will make Summer Term accessible to as many students as possible.

Thanks to everybody in the Division of Continuing Studies who has worked to expand our summer offerings. It’s not too early to start preparing for summer 2019!