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Winter Term playing key role in retention at WKU

A recent survey conducted by WKU Winter Term showed that the three-week courses offered between the fall and spring semesters do more than just allow students to make up a missed class – they increase retention, encourage students to take classes in the spring and even expedite graduation.

The number of students participating in Winter Term Study Aboard courses increased more than 30 percent in  2014. Dr. Keith Philips led 16 Gatton Academy students to Costa Rica for Biology 485: Costa Rican Biodiversity Studies and Research.  (WKU photos by Clinton Lewis)

Enrollment in Winter Term Study Aboard courses increased more than 30 percent in 2014. Dr. Keith Philips led 16 Gatton Academy students to Costa Rica for Biology 485: Costa Rican Biodiversity Studies and Research.
(WKU photos by Clinton Lewis)

WKU began offering Winter Term in 2006 to give students the opportunity to take an additional course between the fall and spring semesters. Winter Term has made a positive impact on the entire campus community. Over the past nine terms, on average more than 2,000 students have taken a course each Winter Term, with 2,139 students enrolled in a course this January, the highest head count in four years. Since its inception Winter Term has generated more than 18,000 enrollments and made graduation more attainable for students.

Dr. Beth Laves, Associate Vice President for Extended Learning & Outreach, said Winter Term makes a significant impact on student success by giving them a resource to make up for a missed class or to even get ahead in their coursework.

“Taking an extra course here and there adds up, and WKU students see the value in picking up additional classes between semesters,” said Laves, adding that more students have been retained from fall to spring in the last nine years.

Although the majority of students who take Winter Term courses are upperclassmen, Winter Term is beneficial to underclassmen, as well. “This year we focused on enrolling freshmen and sophomores and saw a 33.1 percent increase in freshmen and 9.5 percent increase in sophomores,” Laves said. “We are excited about these numbers because they mean that we are helping students get ahead in their coursework and increase their likelihood of graduating on time.”

Laves added that students who take a Winter Term course are more likely to graduate on time. WKU enrollment data shows that 80 percent of students who graduate in four years take at least one winter or summer course.

Kelsey Odle, a communication sciences & disorders major from Auburn, Ky., knows the benefits of taking courses during winter and summer breaks. Odle said that taking courses during Winter Term and Summer Sessions not only helped her stay on track they actually allowed her to graduate early.

“I had some classes that I needed to take but was unable to fit in the regular semesters,” Odle said. “My advisor told me that winter and summer were a great time to take general education classes that were harder to fit in with my major schedule.

“Now I am graduating in three years instead of four. There is no better way to get ahead or even stay on time.”

Winter Term is also a time for students to study outside the classroom through WKU Study Abroad or Study Away. More than 60 students participated in Study Away programs this winter, studying in locations such as Hawaii, New York City, Las Vegas and Park City, Utah. Study Abroad enrollment increased more than 30 percent in 2014, with students taking courses in Ecuador, Kenya, China, Italy, Australia, Costa Rica, Belize, Cuba and France.

For information about the WKU Winter Term, visit www.wku.edu/winter or call Alicia Bingham at (270) 745-2478.

WKU Winter Term is a unit of Extended Learning & Outreach.

Contact: Susan Esters, (270) 745-8922.

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