The Island Campus never opened, but advance publicity and promotion for summer courses at the former Showboat casino in Atlantic City appear to have paid off a little for Stockton University.
Enrollment in all summer courses offered by the university increased almost 7 percent for summer 2015.
Most courses were offered either online or at the main Galloway Township campus. But a promotional “get three courses for the price of two” special designed to entice students to try the proposed Island Campus was also honored, even if the courses ultimately had to be held at another site.
“It was an attractive proposition,” Dean of General Studies Robert Gregg said of the special tuition deal. “It wasn’t up for long, and not a lot of students signed up for it, but it attracted attention to summer sessions. We might do something similar next year.”
For years, colleges have looked for ways to make summer sessions attractive to students — more like a third semester than a catch-up class.
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But enrollment dipped during the recession, and Stockton’s new flat-rate tuition program, which allows students to take as many as 20 credits for the price of 16, has encouraged more students to take their classes during the regular academic year.
Gregg said keeping the cost competitive encourages students to take a course or two over the summer. He and officials at other state colleges said the growth and convenience of online courses, and a desire to finish college more quickly, also inspire students to consider summer courses.
Noya Ilan, of Caldwell, Essex County, a senior criminal justice major at Stockton and a member of the Student Senate, took three classes over the summer to make sure she can graduate within four years. She had started at a community college and had to take extra credits at Stockton to meet her degree requirements. She also worked and lived on campus over the summer, so the classes were convenient.
While more than 2,000 students took classes during Stockton’s three summer sessions, more than half of all courses — 135 of 238 — were offered online.
“It was very quiet on campus,” Ilan said.
Gregg said Stockton officials would like to get more students on campus but adapt to meet student demand.
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Stockton visual communications major Anthony Galluccio, of Manahawkin, took business and marketing professor Jennifer Barr’s online course in “Ads, Fads and Consumer Culture.” He wrote in an email that it fit with his major and was convenient to take online.
Overall, Stockton students earned more than 15,000 undergraduate and graduate credits this summer, generating about $5.5 million in revenue.
Atlantic Cape Community College saw a slight decrease in summer enrollment of less than 1 percent. But enrollment in online courses increased 9 percent over last summer, while on-campus courses decreased 12 percent, said Richard Perniciaro, executive vice president for planning, research and facilities. Of the 13,220 credits earned over the summer, more than half, 7,700, were online.
Stockton’s Gregg said most students who take summer courses are juniors and seniors looking to make up or catch up on credits.
Freshmen and sophomores sometimes take general-requirement courses at community colleges, where they are less expensive and transferable to four-year colleges.
“We’ll get students who attend other colleges but live here,” Perniciaro said.
Almost 15,000 students took summer classes through Rutgers University this summer, but an effort to expand summer courses to the Jersey Shore was only partially successful.
Liz Beasley, director of New Brunswick summer and special projects, said 59 students took five courses in Point Pleasant as part of a new “Rutgers @ the Shore” initiative, but courses planned for Atlantic City and Cape May through a partnership with Atlantic Cape Community College were canceled for lack of enrollment. The most popular course was Introduction to Oceanography.
Beasley said she was a bit surprised there was so little interest in Atlantic and Cape May counties, but the program was new and school officials will review how they can make courses more attractive.
Early results from a student survey said more than 1,000 students were interested in classes by the shore, but those who wouldn’t take one said they wouldn’t be at the shore long enough, were too busy working, couldn’t afford a summer session or preferred to take the courses on the main campus.