UT opens enrollment for spring informal classes

Claire Allbright

Students and community members interested in reading tea leaves, backyard chicken raising, and more can now sign up for UT’s spring Informal Classes, which opened registration Monday.

UT’s Informal Classes have been offered since 1971 as a way to take non-credit classes in a variety of topics, including visual arts, humanities, exercise, dance, gardening, language, writing and more.

“The purpose of Informal Classes is to meet the community’s educational needs for personal enrichment and growth by providing short-term leisure classes,” said Monica Mercado, senior program coordinator for Informal Classes.

Mercado said Informal Classes are student-driven and focus on the areas and topics that interest them.

“The best part is receiving the wonderful testimonials from our students about their Informal Classes experience,” Mercado said. “In fact, that is the theme of our 2015–2016 campaign, ‘You Never Know Until You Try.’ We highlighted three students who wanted to try something new/find a hobby, and they did so with Informal Classes. It’s exciting to see such talent and know that we’re providing an avenue for people to develop and express themselves.”

Austin resident Arlene Freeman said she and her daughter registered to take a class on historic churches in Austin because they love history.

“I wasn’t interested in a formal class or pursuing a degree — I already have one — but the informal classes were appealing because I could learn something and not dedicate a large amount of time to it, just a day or a few weeks,” Freeman said. “Plus the topics seem really interesting.”

Kate Dopkin, undeclared liberal arts freshman, said she heard about Informal Classes through an email she received because of her job as a ticketing services student assistant for Texas Performing Arts.

“Faculty and staff get a 10 percent discount on the classes,” Dopkin said. “It seems like a good opportunity to try something new and different from all my academic classes. I think I would like to try one in the future. Maybe the one on how to read tea leaves.”

Registration is available online through Texas Extended Campus, and Mercado said the classes typically take place in the evenings over a short time frame.

“Informal Classes are open to the general public as well as University faculty, students and staff,” Mercado said. “Our programs offer something for life learners of all ages, backgrounds and interests.”