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Summer courses, post-preliminary-registration (#1069)

Topics/tags: Grinnell, short

Preliminary registration for Grinnell’s first set of online summer courses wrapped up the other day. It doesn’t look like it went as well as we expected. CSC-151, Functional Problem Solving w/lab, has ten students enrolled; ANT-210, Illness, Hearing and Culture, has nine. Nothing else has more than five, although everything has at least one.

Most of the summer courses sound awesome, awesome enough that I’d like to enroll (and other people asked me if they could enroll). Some, like ECN-226, Economics of Innovation, are usually significantly over-enrolled when offered during the academic year.

So why are the enrollments this summer so low?

In part, it’s likely because we limited who could enroll. If I recall correctly, only two categories of students were invited: Students currently living on campus who want to stay during the summer and students who were abroad in the spring. I’m not even sure that all members of either group were invited. Given that those staying on campus will be paying $1,200 for housing and $1,800 for meals for the full summer, I assume many will want to work to offset those costs. Most can only work twenty hours per week, which is only $1,700 at a salary of $8.50/hour. I know less about those returning from abroad.

I expect that there’s also an uncertainty about learning online, particularly for the students returning from abroad. I have no idea what their experiences with remote learning were like, but my understanding is that, across the country, remote learning experiences were less good than in-person experiences.

What happens next?

I’m not sure. The administrators in charge of this program are probably overwhelmed right now as they try to get ready to give President Kington recommendations for the fall. I expect we’ll hear an announcement soon. I can see a few possible options: We might open enrollment to a larger group of students and wait another week. We might cancel most of the classes; I seem to recall that the goal was ten students in a class. But if we do that, what happens to the students who enrolled in the classes we canceled and how will they feel? Would enough of them shift to another of the lower-enrollment classes to make it worth keeping some? Or will we put the kibosh on the whole experiment?

I hope that we find a way to keep some of the classes. As I said, I’d love to be able to sit in on some of them.

Version 1.0 of 2020-05-14.