Lack of spring classes frustrates students

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Whether you want to finish early, broaden your academic scope, or just want to pick up an extra credit over the spring and summer, some students feel limited by the availability of senior-level courses in the spring or summer terms.

The Cord spoke with the director of teaching support services, Sandy Hughes, in order to find out how courses offered online and in class over the May to August period are chosen.

It turns out certain faculties only dictate what courses they want to offer, so Hughes helps mainly in a coordinating role. Her office then takes this information and assesses demand and budget in order to provide course availability for summer and spring.

“Last year, we did surveys over the summer, and that data showed that most students would prefer taking online courses over those in the classroom. Maybe there was more alignment with what they were doing outside school,” Hughes said.

“Expect to see up to 90 courses available online this upcoming spring/summer term,” said Hughes. The most popular courses tend to be 100-level and language courses, with an online learning course in astronomy which was immediately almost full.

“Already this year we took a look at one course, which on the first day had a significant amount of people on the wait-list. We managed to find another instructor, so we were lucky there. There’s not a lot of flexibility as enrolment goes up every term. We’re offering as many as five or six new courses every year,” she added.

This is the first year that these courses have had a wait-list available. Hughes can take a look at how many students are currently enrolled, and waiting to enrol, and try to find more instructors if necessary. The School of Business and Economics has an in-class term during the summer and offers the usual courses that students off co-op would take. However, some students are finding problems taking electives, especially at the senior level on campus, since most are done online.

Kristie Meiklejohn, a fourth-year business co-op student, has a busy summer schedule. She wants to take some electives in environmental studies, but is instead choosing to take them this fall because of limited availability.

“I prefer taking [the courses] in class. In third year business you’re in class at 8:30 a.m. until whenever so you’re pretty limited for electives. I wanted to take ES102 but it’s only available in the winter and it’s always full,” she said. “The other case with electives is that you never had the prerequisites, there’s no open courses at the senior level.”

Christine Wolfl, fourth-year psychology student, was upset enough when she found out she had to take a summer term. Now she is frustrated with the course availability.

“I don’t need any 100-level courses, it’s the upper-year courses that’s the problem. I also wanted to take some more courses to get ahead that were available as well.” Wolfl said.

Hughes has had discussions before with the dean of arts, Michael Carroll, in order to come up with ideas to improve current and new selections, but she says that students can and should do more about their concerns. “If students are wanting to take a course that is full in the fall or winter term and want to take it in the summer but it’s not available, they should send me an e-mail [shughes@wlu.ca] and I can then compile a list of what the real demand is.”

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