CMC Cancels Summer Classes
Julia Thomas | Feb. 7, 2014, 5:13 p.m.
Claremont McKenna College announced in December that it will not offer summer session classes this summer because of low enrollment numbers in recent years.
Ten classes were offered at CMC during the 2013 summer session, according to CMC Director of Academic Planning Dianna Graves. Three of the classes enrolled fewer than seven students and four classes enrolled five or fewer students. The remaining three classes had 8, 13, and 14 students in total.
Tom Lee CM '15 chose to take a class last summer because his major, management engineering, is an accelerated program that requires him to complete a bachelor's degree in Management Engineering in three years.
“The summer course was great because I got to focus on one course (Accounting) and concentrate on learning more about the subject than I normally would have been able to do during the semester,” Lee said. “It sparked a real interest that made me want to take more courses in accounting.”
The choice gave him more room to take electives during the school year and more free time during the week for extracurriculars. Without summer classes, he said he will need to rethink his course schedule and time commitments over the coming semesters.
Lee added that the summer session is a good time for students to explore courses outside their major.
"Summer session was an opportunity to choose what you wanted to learn,” Lee said. “CMC is a liberal arts institution that regards itself as one that provides an opportunity to explore different fields and integrate them. The cancellation of summer school proves otherwise.”
Since the summer session student body is much smaller, the courses offer a higher faculty-to-student ratio in a more intimate learning environment.
“We covered all the same material, but in greater depth," said philosophy professor Suzanne Obdrzalek, who taught an introductory-level philosophy course during the 2013 summer session. "I was also able to have extra sessions to work on student writing. This is due to the fact that the class was so small, which enabled us to get through material more quickly.”
While Obdrzalek normally has approximately 15 students in the class during the year, she had just five during the summer.
The summer session program was established in 2010 for students at CMC and the other Claremont Colleges to complete classes equivalent to one semester's worth of credit over the summer months. Students have used summer courses to fulfill major or general education requirements, as well as create more flexibility in their schedule to study abroad or take electives.
Summer enrollment numbers have been relatively small since CMC's summer session was established, CMC Associate Dean of Faculty Ronald Riggio said. He added that the college often ended up canceling summer courses that professors had already prepared for when enrollment numbers came in lower than expected.
“Although the lack of summer school at CMC may pose some inconvenience to a limited number of students, the college will continue to accept transfer course work from other institutions per the guidelines that are outlined in the CMC Course Catalog,” Graves said.
Pitzer College also offers two six-week summer session programs for 5C and other university students.
Although the future of CMC’s summer session is unclear, the college is considering different summer program options, such as the opportunity to travel internationally.
“We need to find an experience that brings students to campus,” Riggio said.