(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – June 26, 2020) The switch to an all-virtual format for California Lutheran University’s traditional undergraduate summer classes has resulted in record enrollment at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic upended students’ plans.
The university has seen a 33% increase in the number of students taking classes, from 431 last year at this time to 574 this week. Other universities also have experienced enrollment boosts after going all-virtual this summer, with Arizona State University reporting a 17% increase.
Kevin Baxter, associate director of enrollment marketing at Cal Lutheran, attributes the jump to stay-safe-at-home orders thwarting students’ summer plans for travel, study abroad, internships and jobs. Activities like attending concerts and gathering with friends also are restricted.
With the entire slate of Cal Lutheran’s traditional undergraduate summer classes offered virtually for the first time, students who returned to their homes throughout the U.S. and abroad can take any class from anywhere.
Incoming students and those attending other colleges can register but their numbers are relatively unchanged from last year, so Cal Lutheran’s continuing students are driving the increase. The high enrollment has the added benefit of keeping more students connected to the campus community after the university had to send most residential students home in March in response to the pandemic.
Cal Lutheran offered its first virtual traditional undergraduate summer course in 2013. Last year, nine of the 125 summer classes were offered virtually, and they were popular. This year, all classes are virtual, with a total of 165 offerings.
Students are taking a bigger class load than they typically do, with the average increasing from about 4.5 units last year to 6.4 this year. A new $1,000 credit toward fall tuition offered to students who take five or more credits in the summer likely helped fuel this increase.
The College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Management are presenting a range of classes that provide credit toward graduation including Genetics, Religion and Food, and Behavior in Organizations A new course called Advertising During Crisis was developed in response to the pandemic.
Alternative offerings are also popular this year. New no-credit classes designed to teach students to analyze data are nearly full. In one course, students will learn to analyze what is being said on Twitter, Reddit and Instagram. A new one-day nonfiction creative writing workshop has a waiting list.