“I have a schedule for everything.”
For busy University of Missouri–St. Louis undergraduate and young mother Tempestt Burel, that agenda includes having her diploma in hand and a graphic design internship in place by next May. But earlier this year, the St. Louis native realized she might come up short of meeting her four-year timetable.
“With studio and art classes, you have to put in a lot of extra time,” explained Burel, who during her sophomore year opted for 12 credit hours a semester instead of her usual 15. Carrying a bit lighter load had been a wise decision that year given the time-intensive coursework, but it also put the required-to-graduate total of 120 credit hours just out of reach.
So when she heard about the new Triton Summer Scholarship, designed to keep UMSL students on pace for timely degree completion by providing financial aid for summer classes, she jumped at the opportunity.
“Without the summer scholarship, this wouldn’t be possible,” Burel said. One of 161 recipients of the funding, she’s now wrapping up those six credit hours she lacked going into her senior year this fall.
Traditionally deemed the academic off-season, this summer’s enrollment totals suggest otherwise, with nearly 5,100 students, including 433 visiting students from other institutions, taking at least one UMSL course during the 2014 summer session. That’s an overall uptick of more than 4 percent over last year’s figures.
The summer months prove crucial for many UMSL students looking to progress steadily toward their degrees, said Sarah Klekamp, an academic adviser in the College of Arts and Sciences. That time between spring and fall semesters also enables students to focus on a course they find to be particularly difficult.
Administrators attribute the summer session growth to several factors, including the impact of the summer scholarship program. UMSL’s academic departments also select their summer course offerings based on recent enrollment patterns and on which sorts of courses will be most attractive to students looking to make progress toward graduation, said Elizabeth Eckelkamp, an associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Fine Arts and Communication.
“For instance, language-intensive courses are offered that allow students to complete their entire foreign language requirement over the summer,” Eckelkamp said. “For students who may have changed majors into a program that requires languages, this helps them move along their pathway to graduation. The junior-level writing courses are another popular summer option. And demand for online summer offerings has increased because of the flexibility online courses give students who may have a challenging summer work or travel schedule that would preclude them from taking a traditional face-to-face course.”
The ranks of this summer’s online students include Burel, who chose to take a philosophy course in that format along with an in-person geology course that meets on campus twice a week.
“At first I was nervous, because it was my first online class,” Burel said.
But the flexibility has been great, she said, especially when juggling coursework with caring for her infant son. Burel’s been pleasantly surprised by the interaction with fellow students and with the professor despite the remote nature of the course.
“UMSL has a strong sense of community,” Burel said. “And all the professors are really great – they care about your outside life in addition to your school life.”