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K-State Today

April 7, 2011

Rising to the occasion: Distance education summer enrollments increase, keep students working

Submitted by Julie Fosberg

Summer isn't just about vacations and outdoor activities. It's also a season for learning.

According to the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, summer enrollments at many institutions have been on the rise in recent years, despite the difficult economy. Kansas State University is seeing this trend, with last year's distance education summer enrollments increasing by 15.2 percent, and a rise of 3.6 percent the year before that.

A. David Stewart, assistant dean of continuing education at K-State, said economic downturns consistently result in enrollment upturns.

"The first thoughts many people have are, 'How am I going to survive? How will I remain employable? How do I prepare for the future?' Often one of their first strategies is to turn to education for more training or updating," he said.

The pace of life slows down for many people during the summer, allowing more time to devote to a class, Stewart said.

"One appeal of summer distance classes is that you can take a class no matter where or how you spend the summer, even if plans change," he said. "A lot of people are more mobile during summer months. They travel for business, recreation and sometimes pursue internships or training opportunities only available in the summer. A distance class can go with them wherever they go."

Most K-State distance classes are asynchronous and can be accessed any time to accommodate changing schedules. More than 300 distance-accessible classes are offered for summer 2011, balancing the need for continuing education and continued employment in tough times.

"In most cases, distance education removes potential schedule conflicts between employment and education so people don't have to choose one priority over the other," Stewart said. "The chance to earn additional credits while working through the summer moves them closer to their educational goals."

Enrollment is under way for summer 2011 at K-State. View available classes at http://www.dce.k-state.edu/courses or contact the K-State Division of Continuing Education at 1-800-622-2578 or informationdce@k-state.edu.