Come May, University of Georgia students scatter from Athens to hometowns, internships and study abroad trips. But while Athens appears to lull until the fall semester, summer enrollment is on the rise.
According to data from the University System of Georgia and the UGA Fact Book, enrollment in summer classes saw a dip from 2011-2014, followed by a gradual rise from 2015-2018.
In 2018 — which provides the most recent data — about 58% of the total number of students enrolled at UGA took summer classes. This is about a 2% increase from 2016. This increase follows closely with the increase in the total student population.
UGA offers summer courses over five different sessions ranging in length according to the Office of the Registrar. Shorter sessions range from 15 to 19 days of class, while the longest session totals 11 weeks of class.
The first classes began on May 15. The last ones wrap up as late as Aug. 5.
Teaching assistant Katja Sonkeng said some advantages to taking classes over the summer are the “smaller class sizes and the ability to connect better with your professors and instructors.”
In 2019, students had over 6,000 sections of courses to choose from, ranging from core classes like Art Appreciation and Georgia History to high-level graduate classes.
Some students find summer provides a better chance to get into popular classes.
“I stayed this summer to get the classes and times I actually wanted,” rising third-year Caroline Ballou said. “During the school year, the best times fill up so fast.”
Winston Meshad, rising third-year, said taking summer classes is “an easy way to get ahead before school starts with less distractions.”
“Accounting is one of the harder classes in Terry, so I wanted to take it without any other classes on my plate,” Meshad said.
For some students, the slower pace of summer is a time to tackle difficult courses. But students shouldn’t assume classes are easier in the summer, economics professor Katherine McClain said.
“Many students underestimate or don’t fully consider its challenges,” McClain said. “You have to be very self-motivated and organized to make sure you don’t miss any deadlines.”
The benefits of summer courses go beyond academics. From exploring new places outside of Athens to meeting new classmates, many students find summer in Athens just as fulfilling as life during the fall and spring.
“There’s plenty of things to do in Athens over the summer,” Meshad said. “I’ve met a different group of people I wouldn’t normally meet during the school year.”
Ballou shared a similar sentiment.
“The pace here is definitely slower in the summer, but in a really nice way,” Ballou said.