Winter courses return for expanded second year

By Dalton Karwacki

Last year’s trial of a course term held during winter break was successful enough to be brought back and expanded for this year’s break, according to Dean of the College of Continuing Studies (CCS) Boris Vilic.

Last year, CCS launched a pilot program over the winter break that introduced a selection of courses that could be taken in a compressed three-week time frame. During this time, the courses met four days a week for three hours a day.

There were two courses offered to the 46 enrolled students last year: Sitcoms and American Culture,  and Music and Society, with enough demand that a second section of one of the courses needed to be opened.

According to Vilic, the winter term this year, which runs from Jan. 3 to Jan. 20, has grown in terms of the number of students and number of offered courses.

“We’re still not done registering, because some of our students register late, but we have 73 students,” Vilic said. “There are five sections of four courses, so we’ve expanded the offerings based on the feedback from students and the faculty.”

Vilic said that reaction to the program was a large part of its growth this year. He said that the response to one course, Sitcoms and American Culture, was so great that it is being offered again this winter. Also offered this year are Fundamentals of Drawing, Photography and Political Film.

According to Vilic, knowledge of the three-week courses offered in the summer made it easier to decide what to offer in the winter.

“We know which courses can be taught in that condensed curriculum,” Vilic said. “For example, what you won’t find is an upper level course that requires a lot of reading because there’s not a lot of time.”

Vilic said that the focus is more on offering applied courses, like Fundamentals of Drawing, and Photography. He said that the immersive nature of the courses sometimes contributes to the quality of the work created by the students.

“Some of the photography is better than some of the professional photography that I’ve seen,” Vilic said. “It’s just amazing what students learn in three weeks.”

According to Vilic, the program contains a mixture of full- and part-time students.

“We have some students who needed one more course to graduate in May, so rather than taking it in the summer, they’re taking it in January,” Vilic said. “We have part-time students who like the opportunity to lighten up their spring load, so instead of three courses, they maybe take two.”

Marci Risch, an administrative specialist with CCS, will be taking her first course with the program in January.

“I typically take two classes a semester as a non-traditional student, and I haven’t traditionally taken summer classes, but I realized that by taking the three-week class in the winter and taking one of the summer sessions, I’d be able to cut a whole semester off of my graduation date,” Risch said. “If I do that this year and next year, I’ll cut a whole year off.”

Risch said that she finds the short length of the winter courses appealing.

“When you think about it, it’s three weeks and boom, you’re done,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Vilic said that he is satisfied with the response to the winter course program.

“It has exceeded our expectations, both last year and this year,” he said. “It’s nice when, based on the students’ feedback, our offerings become successful. So, basically, we’re very pleased.”

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