Students dissatisfied with lack of available summer classes

By: Michelle Marchante/Editor in Chief

In August, Shannen Germain will be moving to North Carolina to start her new job.

That is, if she can enroll for summer classes.

Double majoring in broadcast media and marketing, Germain only has four classes left: three communication and one marketing course.

But when she clicked the enroll button on Tuesday, April 3, she was only able to enroll for one: marketing. The others were full. One had even disappeared from her shopping cart.

Now, Germain doesn’t know what to do.

“I’ve planned my whole life around this graduation date which I was told over six months ago. I got a job in North Carolina and am moving out of Miami in September to start my new job,” Germain said during an interview with Student Media on Wednesday, April 4.

Germain said that the School of Communication & Journalism does not offer online versions of the classes she needs.

“I don’t have financial aid for Fall so what am I supposed to do?” Germain said.

Another broadcast media senior, Jennifer Suarez, faces similar issues.

“Every time we have to sign up for a class it’s either already full or there’s not enough flexibility in the schedule for people to be able to work and put in the college life,” Suarez said. “Sometimes they only offer one class in that subject and if that schedule doesn’t work with you then you have to just bend backwards to be able to work it out with work, internships, and other opportunities…”

Suarez, like Germain, is a transfer student and has five classes left to graduate. However, she can only take two in the summer and unless another section of her final course opens in the fall, she’ll have to wait until Spring 2019 to graduate.

Suarez also lives at 109 Tower at the Modesto Maidique campus and hasn’t renewed her lease because of her expected graduation. The dorms become more expensive the closer it gets to deadline, she said, which is why she’s decided to commute from Sunrise instead of renewing again.

But CARTA students aren’t the only ones struggling with summer classes.

Students in other majors such as Sophia Menendez, a senior biology major, also struggle with the lack of summer courses. A lot of STEM electives, according to Menendez, are not offered in the summer and those that are tend to overlap, she said.

“Every bio elective in the summer is at the same time so it makes it impossible to take multiple classes in the summer,” she said in a text message to Student Media.

However, not all seniors have this problem.

Emanuel Moyano, a senior graduating with a degree in electrical engineering, has never had a problem enrolling in his courses. The only problem, he said, is that the classes taught by “decent professors” tend to fill up fast. However, unlike Menendez and the two broadcast students, Moyano’s classes normally don’t have pre-reqs, which he believes makes it easier for enrollment.

Student Media contacted the Office of the Provost several times to discuss the different enrollment issues students are having, despite the University’s increase in summer enrollment over the past several years, but did not receive a response for press time.

Teresa Ponte, the chair of the department of journalism, said to Student Media that the department is aware of the issues and is doing their best to meet student demands for summer.

“We try to always offer the classes that we know are going to have the most impact,” Ponte said.

This impact, according to Ponte, could be to help those who completed all pre-reqs in the spring and just need the final class, known as Capstone, to graduate or in the amount of students the class would benefit.

However, Suarez hasn’t seen this summer class availability.

“The classes are almost never offered in summer so sometimes we don’t have the option of getting some of our degree done over the summer while other majors, other schools have classes during the summer,” Suarez said.

Summer is a different type of planning, according to Ponte, and depends not just on what type of courses would meet most student demands and what courses make the most sense to offer during a shorter learning period, but also on what instructors are available to teach.

Permanent faculty members throughout the University, for example, have a nine-month contract, she said. This means that they’re not required to teach in the summer and is the norm in most universities.

This summer alone, however, the department has a “sequence of courses” different from previous years, according to Ponte. This comes from an influx of student demands for select classes and juggling the students who are “grandfathered” in the original program track and those who entered the program after the curriculum changed last year.

Student Media has been keeping track of MyFIU since last week, and saw additional courses being added days after more than a dozen CARTA students sent a group email to University President Mark B. Rosenberg requesting action. Advisors had told students a week before the email was sent out that additional courses were in the process of being added.

The email, which was forwarded to Student Media, discusses the frustration students have with the lack of class availability and lists a series of requests ranging from making non-all-hands-on major courses available online to opening summer sections for select upper-level courses.

“If more sections aren’t offered, we can either be added to the courses that are already set in place, even if it means a larger class, or simply be exempt from certain courses, that clearly don’t seem to be a priority for our major,” the email reads.

However, course exemptions are not possible, according to Ponte, because most of the classes are “skill-courses” which build upon each other to improve the student’s ability. Additionally, class sizes cannot usually be increased because of the school’s accreditation, which requires their skill-courses to have a cap of 15-20 students.

“We are the only accredited journalism department in South Florida so we are accredited by a private organization of educators and it’s very stringent,” Ponte said.

But, every degree is different and requires different things, which is why Ponte also wants students to remember that pre-reqs are meant to help prepare them for “skill-courses” which she describes as being more intense and time-consuming along with requiring work outside of class time. She’s also asking students to be patient.

It’s a matter of both students and department working together, Ponte said.

“It’s the student not hearing what they want to hear but the student hearing the reality of the situation as we work so they have as few stumbling blocks,” Ponte said.

Suarez, as of press time, is still waiting to see what will happen with her courses. Germain is in contact with Ponte and her advisor and is hopeful that the problem will be solved.

“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Germain said. “I believe I’m supposed to graduate in August and I got a job starting in September, my life is working out right now and I don’t have any doubt in my mind that I’m going to graduate in August. They have to figure something out. It’s not fair…but we’re strong and we’re gonna get together and figure it out because we deserve it.”


Featured Image retrieved from unsplash.

About the Author

Michelle Marchante
Michelle Marchante is the 2018-2019 Editor-in-Chief of PantherNOW. Majoring in broadcast journalism, she lives and breathes web, print, radio and TV news 24/7. You can connect with her on Twitter @TweetMichelleM

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