Sleepless nights in the library, multiple papers to write and tests to study for is nearing its end as the final month of the fall semester approaches. Late December and most of January provides a break for students from their busy fall semester, but the break also provides an intersession in which students can take a course for just four weeks online and earn same the three credits.
With the intersession beginning on January 2, 2019, Pace is looking to increase enrollment for the winter courses that it provides. The university recently sent an email to faculty urging them to encourage students to register for intersession courses, as registration has been significantly low compared to previous years.
Over the years, Pace has had students enroll in multiple classes during the winter intersession but the 2019 intersession has a lower registration count and there is a search for answers.
Anthropology professor Marni Finkelstein teaches one of the Introduction to Anthropology courses offered in both the fall and spring semesters. Her class is very popular, usually filling up during the first day of registration. This year she will be teaching two Introduction to Anthropology courses in the spring as well as one class during the winter intersession.
“Every semester, in the spring and in the fall, the class fills up the first day of registration,” Finkelstein said. “Going into the spring, I always say, you know, ‘its full, but I’m teaching the same class for the intersession and if you need it then that class is easier to get into.’”
Being that some courses received a higher registration than others, Finkelstein believes that the courses that do have a higher registration are those that fulfill a certain requirement for the students enrolled or that fill up quickly during the year.
“To me, it seems like it would be about what might be more required or fulfill some type of requirement rather than a class that might not be and whether a class is hard to get into” Finkelstein said.
Though Finkelstein does not know the exact reason why the intersession has a lower registration rate this year, she believes the financial aid quandary may has something to do with it.
Pace does not provide students with financial aid during the winter intersession and instead advises students to apply for alternative private loans.
“That can be an issue,” Finkelstein states, “it would depend on the person’s financial situation, I don’t think someone should go into debt to take a winter class. If they can afford it, it might be beneficial or if they really need the class to graduate and they can’t get in it another way, it might be beneficial to do it.”
“For example, if [a student] could afford it and say [they] had to take so many classes for the year, it’d be great to take one during the intersession and for the spring have one less so their workload would be a little bit easier in the spring but again, financial aid can constrain that too as far as what they would require for full time course load and things like that,” she continued.
Nevertheless, Finkelstein believes that there are definitely benefits that come with taking a course during the winter break and encourages all students who has the means to take a course to do so.
“This gives the student, especially if it’s a required class, number one: a chance to do it,” Finkelstein said. “Number two: even though it’s more consolidated, you’re done in four weeks and you still get the same three credits that you need, and you’re taking it at a time when you’re most likely not taking any other classes so you can really concentrate on it.”
Michael Shannon, a sophomore Criminal Justice major, is one student who is interested in taking a winter intersession course and believes that it can be beneficial to him and other students in the long run.
“I’m trying to graduate a semester early, so I want to make sure that I have enough credits to do that,” Shannon said. “Also, people who are behind on credits can catch up or get ahead and it’s also a good opportunity to get three credits in four weeks.”
Shannon believes that the lack of promotion of the courses is a contributing factor to the low registration.
“I feel like [the university] didn’t advertise as much about the winter courses,” Shannon states, “like I haven’t really heard much about it until I was making my schedule for the spring semester on the portal.”
Although students like Shannon are interested in taking a winter course for those benefits, others find benefits in staying away from those courses. Gabrielle Monahan, a sophomore Criminal Justice major, said that taking a class during the intersession would cause her more stress and that some students would agree with her in wanting to use the winter intersession as a break from school work.
“Taking a class opposes the whole idea of break, it’s a mental break” Monahan said, “and on top of that, we still have assignments that we have to do for classes that we already are in, so at the end of the day, I’m going to be just as stressed as I am at school on my break and I don’t think that’s what it should be.”
There are various reasons why students have not registered for as much winter intersession classes this year. It is an issue with no clear-cut answer, but Pace is in search for one.