Summer session sets enrollment record

by Anne Krapfl

Iowa State's recent strong fall and spring enrollments are carrying into summer school as well. Summer enrollment reached an all-time high of 10,359 students this year, an increase of 725 students (7.5 percent) over last year. Summer enrollment at Iowa State last topped the 10,000 mark in 2002, when 10,007 students attended summer school.

The largest increases were in the number of seniors (257), graduate students (231) and juniors (158) enrolled in summer session this year compared to last year. Summer session remains predominantly an undergraduate experience, with nearly 66 percent (6,790) of those enrolled working on bachelor's degrees, and 77 percent of total course enrollments falling into the undergraduate category.

"Number wise, it really is about undergraduate students," said associate vice president for student affairs and registrar Kathleen Jones.

Who attends summer school?

Jones did a quick analysis of summer school enrollments dating back to 1998, the first year Iowa State structured summer school into two sessions. She found consistent correlations between summer enrollments and the previous fall and spring semesters, with 2011 fairly representative of the pattern. Over the 14 years, total summer enrollment averaged 35.3 percent of the previous fall enrollment and 38 percent of the previous spring semester. Those figures for summer 2011 are 36.1 percent of fall 2010 enrollment and 38.7 percent of spring semester 2011 enrollment.

However, the enrollment ratios differ vastly between undergraduate and graduate students. The summer-to-fall semester (29.4 percent) and summer-to-spring semester (31.7 percent) rates for undergraduates were much lower than the same ratios, 67.3 percent and 69.9 percent, respectively, for graduate students. Those differences -- slightly less than one-third to slightly more than two-thirds -- held true over 14 years.

Jones also noted a consistent breakdown, by academic class, of undergraduate summer enrollment over 14 years. Juniors and seniors typically comprise more than 75 percent of the undergraduate students taking summer classes.

Summer enrollment ratios

201114-year average
Summer enrollment:
     Ratio to previous fall enrollment36.1%35.3%
     Ratio to previous spring enrollment38.7%38.0%
     Undergraduate (portion of total)65.5%66.3%
     Graduate (portion of total)32.4%32.3%
     Professional (portion of total)2.0% 1.4%
Summer undergraduate enrollment:
     Freshmen (portion of total)5.7% 6.7%
     Sophomores (portion of total)12.1%12.1%
     Juniors (portion of total)25.9%25.7%
     Seniors (portion of total)51.4%51.3%
     Specials (portion of total)4.8% 4.2%

Summer session 2011 concludes Friday, Aug. 5. Students who complete degrees this summer have the option of participating in the May or December commencement ceremonies.