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Summer session enrollment rises

With a struggling job market and Curriculum 2000 matrices to fill, students have enrolled in record numbers in summer session courses.

First summer term student enrollment is up almost 19 percent over last year and almost 50 percent over two years ago, in large part due to rising sophomores and juniors' desires to fulfill their Curriculum 2000 requirements, administrators said.

"One of the things that's becoming clear is that students are beginning to use the summer in more academically intensive ways, whether it's study abroad, internships or taking classes," said Robert Thompson, dean of Trinity College. "They're using summer strategically to think about careers and fulfilling requirements for majors and curriculum."

Paula Gilbert, director of continuing education and summer session and assistant dean of Trinity College, said the poor economy and the University's offering of summer financial aid for the second straight year also greatly contributed to the rise.

"This has been a difficult year economically," Gilbert said, "and often times [in such years] you have a bubble in summer session enrollment because students don't have as many opportunities for internships or exciting summer jobs."

About 750 students are enrolled in on-campus Arts and Sciences courses this summer term, compared with 631 in 2001 and 503 in 2000, Gilbert said. She estimated that those students have registered for about 1,200 seats in first-term courses, compared to 902 in 2001 and 708 in 2000.

Fifty-two students in the Pratt School of Engineering are enrolled in on-campus Pratt courses, engineering school officials said. Statistics are not available for the Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C., or other institutions. Enrollment numbers for the second term, which are usually considerably lower than the first term, are not yet available.

Gilbert said that departments have tailored some of their classes to look more attractive for filling matrices, in anticipation of students looking to meet the new curricular requirements. Economics professors, for example, have made an effort to designate their classes as writing-intensive.

"We have strong enrollments in the sciences, statistics, English and Spanish," Gilbert added. "That might be expected as a result of Curriculum 2000. There are also a lot in art history, which is a little bit unusual, and in places where you have a lot of majors like economics."

Some students said they decided to enroll in summer classes to meet time-intensive requirements.

"I came to summer school to get my Spanish credit out of the way," said junior Matt Brooks, who is also a punter on the football team. "When you get in the higher levels of Spanish, it takes a lot of work and I don't have time to do it with football, so I might as well do it during summer school."

Junior Carlton Rand said he preferred the more relaxed campus climate. "It's less stressful in the summer," he said. "The atmosphere is calmer and cooler, and you don't have to take four classes at once."

Dave Ingram and Cindy Yee contributed to this story.