More students taking online winter intersession classes than ever before

Winter intersession takes place from Dec. 27 to Jan. 13. Students can sign up for both online and in-person classes. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Enrollment for winter intersession classes is underway with about a 10 percent increase in students choosing online classes in comparison to last year, the Director of the Office of Summer and Winter Programs Susanna Cowan said.

Winter intersession takes place from Dec. 27 to Jan. 13. Students who attend class at one of the University of Connecticut’s campuses meet three hours a day five days a week for the short three-week period.

Despite the short timeframe, winter classes must meet the same standards held by courses during a regular semester, Cowan said. When a face-to-face class is scheduled, they calculate the hours of a regular semester course, which are then made equivalent in the classroom in three weeks. Cowan said these courses are known as “intensive sessions.”

Online courses are also built to meet the goal of active work that is equivalent to contact hours in a classroom, so they are just as intensive as face-to-face classes, Cowan said.

So far, about 1,675 students have enrolled in winter classes, with 1,300 opting to take online classes, and enrollment hasn’t ended yet, Cowan said. The 10 percent increase could still grow.

"The option of [taking classes] from home rather than dealing with treacherous roads possibly or, you know, cold and whatever else…They're clearly voting with their registration,” Cowan said. “They're voting online — resoundingly voting online.”

Not only is enrollment increasing, Cowan said, but students are also continuously obtaining high GPAs during the three-week course despite its intensive nature. Last winter, the overall GPA for students who received a letter grade was 3.5, Cowan said.

“This actually matches what we know traditionally to be true, both at this university and nationally, is on average students tend to do better in the sessions in between semesters,” Cowan said.

There are several factors that could contribute to this, Cowan said, one of them being the time between material being presented and tested is so short it’s easy for students to remember the information.

About 100 courses are being offered this winter session. Of those 100, about 60 of them are general education courses, 40 of which are offered online.

The winter session website advertises the courses as a way for students to fulfill a requirement, stay on track for graduation and reduce their course load for the next semester.

“One of the areas growing most quickly in the development of online classes is the translation of general education courses to the online format,” Cowan said. “Students are able, in summer and winter, to get the courses that they need because they’re checking off requirements.”

Before general education classes can be taught during winter intersession, the General Education Oversight Committee must first approve them. Departments have to submit applications for the classes they want approved and exemplify how their courses would meet the university standards in an intensive, three-week period, Cowan said.

Some students, like Chadd Schwartz, still choose to take face-to-face classes instead of online classes over the winter intersession.

Schwartz, a third-semester finance major, said he came to UConn with 20 credits already completed in high school. He said he took a winter course, in addition to two summer courses, in order to eliminate a year of college.

Schwartz said he took a prerequisite math course for acceptance into the business school in his winter session last year. He said the class was easier in comparison to the regular semester.

“It’s an entire semester’s worth of material crammed into three weeks,” Schwartz said. “When you take the exams, you like know more of the information better because it’s in a smaller period of time. And the professor was really good.”

Kevin Roberts, a fifth-semester mechanical engineering major, said he is taking an online winter intersession course this coming session in order to finish up his last general education requirement so he can focus solely on major specific classes in his senior year. He said he chose an online class so he could stay at home.

“I think the online format will be helpful because on days when I have more time I can get more done,” Roberts said. “If I don’t have time one day, I can catch up the next day. Having more flexible time outside the classroom will be nice given the condensed class.”

Cowan said a huge benefit and factor in increased enrollment of online classes is the ability of the student to budget their time as they want.

“I actually think it empowers the student to somehow make that abbreviated session work more,” Cowan said.


Emma Casagrande is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at emma.casagrande@uconn.edu.