Some students at Stony Brook choose to take summer classes for a variety of reasons. Some want to get ahead in their studies and push required classes out of the way so they won’t have to worry about them during the fall and spring. Others may be making up courses they failed during previous semesters. But whatever their motivation, the number of Stony Brook students attending summer classes has grown rapidly of late.
According to the Office of Student Affairs, undergraduate summer enrollments have increased by more than 14 percent over the past five years. This is especially true among upperclassmen. Of the 11,295 students that enrolled in class this summer, 81 percent consisted of juniors and seniors. Clearly, the school’s offerings and marketing strategy have appealed to droves of older students searching for summer plans.
“I think summer is easier,” said Catalina Wong, a senior Psychology major, who attended both DEC classes and major requirements. “There are less students, so you get more attention from professors.”
It seems that summer perks such as easier access to professors are driving more and more students to eliminate required classes in a simpler environment. According to the Office of Student Affairs, 55 percent of summer enrollments were with the College of Arts and Sciences, a popular choice for DEC fulfillment.
Some students choose to take classes over the summer because they’re not entirely sure what field they want to go into, and want to either experiment in different departments or begin a new major. Wong—though she is beginning her senior year—just declared a major in psychology and wanted to get a head start on those courses. And sophomore Evan Magaliff took an EMT training course at the Health Sciences Center.
“I took it because I thought it would be good to have,” he said. “I found it incredibly interesting, and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do for a career.”
According to Student Affairs, another reason for the spike in summer enrollment might be the slimmer list of class choices found during the year, mostly due to a lack of funding. The office wrote in an e-mail, “Many students have been taking advantage of summer session to enroll in courses that had limited availability in the spring and fall terms resulting from large and well-publicized budget cuts.”
This summer was a hot one, and included a heat wave in July in which temperatures exceeded 100 degrees for several days in a row. However, according to Magaliff, the large amount students of were well accommodated with air conditioned rooms. “The rooms I was in were more than sufficiently cooled,” he said. “That being said, outside felt like an oven.”
With such a large showing this summer, the university does not necessarily need to plan dramatic changes for next year. However, Student Affairs says they are considering a few, including: implementing a third summer session that would take place in August, increasing the availability of online courses, and expansion of the summer Study Abroad Program.
Wong says that she thoroughly enjoyed summer classes and, though she will not need to take any more next year, she encourages other students to give it a try. “If you want to take advantage of your summer,” she says, “I recommend it.”