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SRU winter session enrollment grows

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University students clearly know a good thing when they see it - and right now they are seeing SRU's winter session as a great deal.

"We have seen enrollment skyrocket in the three years we have offered the winter session program. This year, we are offering more than 100 online courses and internships in a variety of disciplines," said Eliott Baker, executive director of academic records and summer school. His office handles winter session planning and registration.

"We call the program 'Get Ahead - Stay Ahead," he said.

This year's four-week winter session runs Dec. 18-Jan. 14 and allows students, both SRU or those from other colleges and universities, to earn up to seven credits toward graduation during the traditional winter break.

"We are finding that students who aren't working over the break and have time on their hands are seeing the advantages of picking up a course or two over the break, especially because all of the courses are online. So, with a little planning, they can fit them into their holiday schedule," Baker said.

Class sessions do not meet Dec. 25 or Jan. 1.

All course are taught through the Desire2Learn system.

Enrollment numbers through mid-week showed nearly 1,300 SRU students had signed up for classes, compared to 815 a year ago. The program opens to non-SRU students Nov. 25. Students enrolling from other colleges and universities must check with their home institution to ensure such courses will transfer toward their degree.

"Winter Session is a short, highly condensed term between the traditional fall and spring semesters," Baker said.

He said SRU students who attempt winter session courses are "held harmless" in terms of their academic standing should they be unsuccessful. "No students are suspended because of their winter session grades. However, a student can help his or her grade point average by doing well."

SRU began the winter session program three years ago offering 30 course sections. "We saw the interest, and faculty agreed to add more online sections the second year, when we offered about 50 sections. This year, the section count is more than 100," Baker said.

Among the course offerings are public speaking; a number of sections in the School of Business; a kindergarten through eighth-grade math/science session in elementary education for graduate students; five sections each in English, health and professional study areas; four sections in nursing; three in philosophy; and 15 sections in SRU's graduate program in special education.

SRU's new master's degree in business administration also starts with winter session.

Students see the advantages of taking winter session courses, including reduced costs both now and later, Baker said.

Current tuition costs apply, including the reduced rate offered for online courses taken by out-of-state students.

"We are hoping students see the long-term financial advantages of winter session courses. If a student takes 15 hours both fall and spring semesters, then adds up to 21 credits by using summer and winter session, over two years that can result in a savings of almost a year's worth of fees, room and board charges and leads to graduation in only three years.

Registration for winter session closes Dec. 19.

"We also see students using the winter session, just like they use summer session, to get a jump on their education, or to average out their course load, particularly if they are anticipating a difficult semester ahead, or are having difficulties balancing course work with a job," he said.

Additional information is available at: http://www.sru.edu/academics/distance_education/winter/Pages/WinterSession.aspx.