Does Campus Look Especially Empty?
Switch to semesters leads to drop in summer enrollment
By Jared MaherPosted Jun 27, 2012
The bustling vivacity that encompasses Ohio State and its neighboring areas tends to hit a dry spell every summer. This summer, it’s looking to be especially arid.
In the summer of 2011, Ohio State’s summer quarter enrollment hit nearly 22,000, which is less than half of what the school typically sees in autumn. This summer, which marks OSU’s first semester since 1922, is expected to see a 30 percent dip in enrollment compared to last year.
The drop could partially be due to the increasing necessity of attaining solid internship experience prior to entering the workforce or rising tuition costs moving students to save money any chance they get. However, no factor is responsible for the dip in enrollment more so than the quarter-to-semester transition.
It’s not surprising Ohio State saw its largest graduating class in history last quarter. Many students specifically pushed themselves to take larger course loads since the announcement of the transition to semesters in an attempt to avoid dealing with the complications of making the switch.
Wayne Carlson, dean of undergraduate education at Ohio State, offered more insight on the drop in enrollment. He and the committee in charge of the conversion to semesters communicated with other Ohio schools that had recently undergone a transition to semesters, including Westerville-based Otterbein University, and based on these schools’ reports, anticipated an expected the fall in enrollment.
“Their observations were that their first semester’s enrollment went down, but after that it went right back up,” he said. “That’s actually one of the reasons we started semesters in the summer.”
Based on this expectation, the administration adjusted by offering fewer classes; in fact, the total number of classes offered this summer is about 30 percent less than last summer, which is clearly proportionate to drop in enrollment.
However, Justin Estok, a fourth year anthropology major, questions the causal relationship of these two events.
“I would be enrolled if they had offered the classes I needed to take,” he said. “Four out of five of the classes I was signed up for got cancelled.”
I asked the Dean if he thought situations like this violated the university's pledge to students that the transition to semesters would not adversely affect a student’s academic progress. He said the university has been trying to avoid such issues altogether by stressing that students be prudent in working with their advisor to plan ahead for the conversion, but if some students still feel as though they were adversely affected, an appeal process is in place to let students voice their concerns.
“We’ve set up an appeal process where the student can come to us and say ‘this is what I had planned to do, this is what I did, and this is how the transition messed that up.’ Then we ask if this is something that was caused by the quarter-to-semester process, if this student was in touch with his or her academic advisor, and essentially, was this within their hands … then we look to see if there is flexibility on the part of the university to determine if there’s something we can do.”