Enrollment surges as students and professors prepare for online summer classes

Anna Canizales

With decreased tuition rates and online classes, the summer semester started on Thursday with higher enrollment than previous summers.

Tuition for summer courses is usually reduced to 85% of the regular fall and spring rates, but due to the pandemic, this year’s summer tuition is 50% of the fall and spring costs. Students have taken advantage of the discount: UT reported a 59% increase in summer enrollment compared to the summer of 2019, University spokesperson J.B. Bird told The Texas Tribune.    

Finance senior Eric Loop said he is taking a summer marketing course to satisfy a credit for an internship that was canceled due to the pandemic. While Loop said learning remotely can be challenging, he said he is not worried about taking the class online.

“My learning style works better when we’re in person and having real face-to-face conversations, but I definitely anticipated there to be a bigger drop-off in quality of learning than 

there is,” Loop said. “It’s really not that much different.”

UT students are also registering for more course hours compared with last summer, Bird told the Tribune. On average, undergraduates have registered for 0.59 more hours this summer, he said.

After the unexpected transition to remote learning in the spring, Fay Medina, an economics and international relations and global studies senior, said she has already noticed the technology used in her summer classes running more smoothly. She chalked it up to students and professors having had time to get to know Zoom and other programs, but she said the online learning environment is still awkward.

“I can’t really communicate,” Medina said. “I like going up to the professor and asking him a question after class or something, and I can’t do that now because their office hours are at the time when I have another class.”

Anthropology professor Fred Valdez is teaching an Introduction to Archaeology course that is normally an in-person lecture. He said it was strange to transition the coursework into an online format. 

“I can’t say it’s nearly as satisfying in terms of teaching in front of students and interacting with students directly,” Valdez said. “(In-person is) much more enjoyable, and I get a better sense of whether students are understanding what I’m saying.”

Medina said she feels some professors are not being lenient enough given the current situation.

“We’re still in a pandemic,” Medina said. “I would like the professors to take that into consideration.”

Valdez, who is teaching the class through pre-recorded lectures, said it is largely self-paced.

“There’s a separate degree of responsibility that then falls on the students in terms of whether they want to listen to all of (the lectures) all at once,” Valdez said. “I’m trying to keep the lectures at a good pace. The unfortunate part is there isn’t that interaction, which would be great because then everybody would have a chance to ask a question or get things clarified.”

Loop said he thinks summer classes will be enjoyable and insightful even though they cannot take place in person.

“I’m really looking forward to being back in person,” Loop said. “I’m excited that UT is making it a priority to have in-person classes in the fall because there’s really nothing like it.”