Many Southeast Missouri State University students hit the books instead of the beach during the summer, spending their days in classrooms or studying online in an effort to get ahead.
Sparked in part by more online courses, Southeast has seen summer enrollment grow from 3,838 in 2000 to 4,116 in 2001, and school officials said enrollment already stands at 6,200 for this summer's sessions.
However, some students are counted twice or more because they take more than one class in the summer. The university doesn't count enrollment by individual students in the summer but by enrollment in each class.
Dr. Dennis Holt, vice provost, said Web courses and classes taught at the university's outlying higher education centers have boosted summer enrollment. Southeast is offering 300 classes for graduate and undergraduate students on the Cape Girardeau campus, another 47 at area higher education centers and 46 online -- twice the number of online courses compared to last summer.
Summer study lessens the course load in the fall and spring semesters, students said, and it helps them graduate sooner, particularly important in these times of escalating tuition.
Erin Hensley, a Southeast senior, is in the middle of a four-week health class, which meets for three hours daily, Tuesday through Friday.
She's also enrolled in another health class in the upcoming eight-week session. "I am basically taking them because I want to get out in four years, and I wouldn't be able to unless I overload during the school year," Hensley said.
For others, the reason is even more basic. "Some classes are easier in the summer," said senior Chandra Webb.
In all, Southeast offers five sessions of varying lengths, three four-week sessions, a six-week session and an eight-week session.
Southeast's first summer classes began on May 14, three days after graduation, and the last will end on Aug. 2, two weeks before the start of the fall semester.
Students said they don't mind sitting in class three hours a day, four days a week. "You get a whole class done in four weeks," said senior Tonya Milfelt, who depends on an alarm clock to make it on time to her 8 a.m. class.
Amanda Newell, a senior, is taking two classes this session. She's in class from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. "It is stressful," said Newell, who commutes from Patton, Mo. But she welcomes the end result: the opportunity to graduate next May.
Dr. Ed Leoni, a professor in the department of health and leisure, has been teaching at Southeast for 22 years. He regularly teaches summer classes.
Leoni, who is teaching a health class in the current four-week session, said students have far more choices now with the various summer sessions offered.
"I love the four-week session because it is so intense," he said.
Leoni said he teaches the same information about healthy lifestyles to students in the summer session that he does in 16 weeks in a regular semester, and three-hour classes allow enough time for students to discuss and digest the information.
"You have more motivated kids in the summer," he said. "They are the ones who are wanting to get through."
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