Local university planning summer school makeover

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Saving summer school. Overall enrollment at SIU-Carbondale has taken a sizable dip in recent years. Summer school is no exception.

Declines over the past two years have administrators trying to give summer school a makeover.

This year more than 7,300 students are enrolled in the summer session, but that number is about 600 fewer than the year before.

SIU-Carbondale Chancellor Rita Cheng put together a summer enrollment task force last fall. The task force recently released their recommendations to re-invent summer school.

Coffee can be a hard sell in the summertime.

"Most years it seems like we see a decrease in summer traffic," said Matthew Moberly, manager of Common Grounds in Carbondale.

But when you brew in a college town, the summer months usually come with a slump in business.

"It seems to follow the university. When the university does well, businesses like ourselves do well. And when enrollment goes down, business goes down," he said.

Problem is, summer school enrollment at SIU-Carbondale is on a decline. The chancellor's task force issued a list of recommendations, trying to make summer school relevant again.

They include creating a larger group of upper-level course offerings, making summer class schedules available in the fall, expanding online opportunities for students who go back home, and adjusting enrollment requirements for on-campus workers.

Administrators also want to target younger students entering college, adults, and even those looking for professional development.

"The idea is to get in and get out as quick as possible to hit the job market," said Tyler Kashdan.

Kashdan is a graduate student in his first semester. His program required a summer course.

"Anything they do that's attempting to boost enrollment is a good thing," said Moberly.

Moberly said his shop's been busier this summer than last, bucking the seasonal enrollment trend.

He hopes that good business will continue into the fall, when all students come back to town.

Chancellor Cheng approved the list of changes. She said they will be in place by summer of 2014.

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