Colleges, Universities Preparing for Continued Online Learning

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This is the last week of classes at the University of New Haven and most students are finishing up online.

Officials said they’ve had success with distance learning, and online registration for summer courses is already higher than normal. But overall student enrollment numbers have changed a bit.

“If we’re looking at returning students and registration, those numbers are very positive,” said Greg Eichorn, vice president of Enrollment and Student Success at UNH.

He added that the freshman class will be a bit smaller this fall. For those new students and the ones returning, he said the students don’t want to miss out on their colligate experiences.

“They want hope in this environment. They want to get back to what they had.”

That will have to wait a little longer. The university announced that all summer classes will be online. With travel restrictions in place and likely summer plans canceled, summer courses are becoming more popular.

“Our summer online registration numbers are – again – through the roof,” said Eichorn. “For new students we have incentives as well to get a jumpstart on their education with free or radically reduced summer courses.”

He said they’re working individually with families that have been impacted by COVID-19 both in health and finances. He called the numbers astounding and said they’re doing the best they can to help students and their families.

The university also has a number of contingency plans for opening early, late or online.

“We’re working through plans to both be open online or on the ground and basically be able to switch back and forth should health concerns and safety be an issue,” said Eichorn.  

Online summer courses are also set for Quinnipiac University’s first summer session, and UConn’s first and second summer terms, as well as at Trinity College.

“Usually our summer online program is a little bit smaller, but I think more faculty are interested in offering online courses,” said Angel Perez, vice president of Enrollment and Student Success at Trinity College.

Perez said they plan to have courses that will help meet requirements and some fun ones that weren’t available before. They’re asking the faculty to be creative in the course offerings.

As for their students, Perez said freshman admission is steady compared to recent years. This year’s high school juniors could have a much different application process than the soon-to-be freshman. Those juniors could have delays in getting testing and required paperwork needed to apply. He said they are working to make the application to the next class as easy as possible.

He pointed out that international students are also facing challenges.

“Some of our international students are looking at some of our immigration policies, border closings, embassies closed around the world, and saying ‘I would love to attend Trinity but I don’t even know if that’s going to be logistically possible,’” said Perez.

While many schools have yet to decide the fall plans, UConn said a decision will be made on or before June 30. In a letter Friday, President Tom Katsouleas said in part:

“Factors contributing to that decision will include the progress on slowing COVID-19, guidance from public health experts, decisions and guidance from federal and state government, and the availability of testing, among others.

Though no decision has been made, faculty should plan as though courses will be delivered online in the fall.”

Quinnipiac University and UNH are both planning to return to campus in the fall, if it’s safe. But so much still depends on the spread of the virus.

“We’re a residential campus and we want to get back to that as quickly as possible to provide that to our students,” said Eichorn.  

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