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Purdue expands summer courses

Trying to boost enrollment, test trimester plan

– Purdue University has expanded its summer course options in a bid to boost summer enrollment and assess the viability of its plans to someday switch to a year-round academic calendar.

Purdue has increased its summer courses about 30 percent in the past year – a shift that school officials hope increases the number of credit hours completed by undergraduate students by about 10 percent compared with last summer.

Administrators see the busy class calendar as a key step to eventually increasing the school’s annual revenue by replacing its traditional fall and spring terms with a balanced trimester schedule running year-round. That plan could bring in an estimated $40 million annually.

But school officials are still a long way from implementing the year-round calendar proposal they announced in late 2011. And before Purdue can shift to a trimester calendar, administrators say the school must first make better use of the summer term.

More than 6,600 undergraduate students completed 33,830 credit hours last summer at the West Lafayette campus. Final enrollment figures for this summer won’t be available until August.

Purdue’s trimester strategy would allow students to graduate faster and mitigate the uncertainties of future state and federal revenue, said Frank Dooley, associate vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs.

“By beefing up what we’re doing in the summer, we’re giving students more opportunities,” he said.

Dooley told the Journal & Courier there are still barriers to Purdue implementing its trimester plan, including the rigidity of some financial aid plans. He said the key for this year is informing students about their ability to take more core classes and others critical for program completion.

For incoming senior Jordan Hunt, that’s more important than a busy social calendar. “I needed to graduate on time,” he said.

Indiana University has also been trying to increase its summer enrollment with a 25 percent tuition discount for its summer semester classes. But after two years, that discount still hasn’t boosted enrollment at the Bloomington campus.

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