Summer Term continues to keep students on track

Fall is in full swing, and it’s wonderful to see a busy campus full of Badgers. But before all the leaves drop, I’d like to take a moment to talk about our success at expanding Summer Term and serving more students.

Summer Term at UW–Madison is a long-standing Wisconsin tradition, a great way for students to stay on track and fulfill academic goals. The successful expansion of our summer term is one reason our average time to degree – which now stands at 3.89 years, or 40 days less than 4 years – continues to improve.

During the pandemic, Summer Term was even more important for many students, giving them a way to stay connected to campus and remain focused on their studies during a challenging time. In the past two summers, almost all classes were offered online, but this coming summer we again anticipate having a mix of in-person and online courses.

A record number of students participated in virtual Summer Term 2020, three months after the pandemic started. More than 10,000 undergraduates enrolled, up 18 percent from 2019. They chose from more than 900 online and remote courses for more than 27,000 course enrollments. Students earned almost 80,000 credit hours.

These are impressive statistics, particularly when you consider pandemic pressures.

Badgers continued to advance their academic goals during Summer Term 2021, with thousands of students taking virtual and in-person courses, doing internships, working on campus and enjoying beautiful summertime in Madison.

For example, consider the experience of student Sarah Marie Candee. She’s a senior studying theatre and drama and communication arts with a digital studies certificate. Sarah’s also on the Wisconsin Equestrian Team. She’s taken Summer Term courses every year to make room for her athletic pursuits and other activities throughout fall and spring semesters. During Summer Term 2021, Sarah took Theatre 140 and Communication Arts 449 online and Theatre & Drama 360 in person. She also traveled to Portugal, worked at the Wisconsin State Capitol and was the stage manager for University Theatre’s production of Rashomon. A busy Badger!

Incoming freshmen have also benefited from Summer Term, taking advantage of early start programs, which provide opportunities to earn credit and meet professors and peers before the start of fall semester. This includes the Wisconsin Experience Summer Launch, engineering programs and early start for transfer students. About 900 students got a jump-start on their Badger journey in 2020 and 2021 with these and other summer start opportunities.

UW–Madison staff and instructors have worked hard to keep students engaged in Summer Term throughout the past year and a half, creating quality in-person and online courses – from chemistry labs to theater experiences. For example, in Food Science 120: Science of Food, Monica Theis and Tu-Anh Huynh taught an online introduction to the chemistry, microbiology and biochemistry of food. They perfected at-home experiments using candy, instant mashed potatoes and a variety of equipment available at home or nearby grocery stores.

From hands-on courses to internships, from studying at home to reading on the Terrace, students have really taken advantage of these past few Summer Terms.

And I’m proud to be making Summer Term more affordable with Summer Term scholarships. More than 2,800 students received the Undergraduate Scholarship for Summer Study or the Summer Finish scholarships in 2020 and 2021.

To learn more about Summer Term, students should visit the Summer Term website and talk with their advisors. Every season is a great season to be a Badger, but summer offers a special chance to take a needed class while participating in other summer activities, either on campus or off.