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Enrollment rises as RU students use Wintermester to keep their education warm

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Approximately 500 students are enrolled in RU wintermester that began on Tuesday, Dec. 17, and continue through Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.

No sooner had the dust settled from Radford University's Winter Commencement ceremonies than its second annual Wintermester term began.

488 students enrolled in the over 40 courses of RU's second Wintermester. Courses began on Tuesday, Dec. 17, and continue through Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014.

Enrollment numbers increased by 161 percent over the 2012-2013 inaugural Wintermester which saw 187 students take part.

"Our goal is to keep RU open for learning 12 months a year," said Vice Provost Bill Kennan. "We have really ramped it up this year to help our students learn, grow and move forward."

Wintermester was a pilot six-course offering a year ago and immediately became a popular option for students who want to keep advancing towards their degrees. Emily Rogers, a junior from Radford majoring in Teacher Education and Leadership, is taking HIST 101: World History to 1500.

"I think it is a smart way to use my time and will alleviate the stress of an overloaded semester," she said. "It will be nice to be able to focus on one class that is compressed and not have to juggle so much."

Rogers, however, stays busy as she is also working two part-time jobs and enjoying quality time with her family while exploring the achievements of the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians and other aspects of early world history. Rogers' schedule for next semester presented her a choice - either load up with six classes to stay on track to graduation or use the Wintermester term to earn three more credits and satisfy a requirement for a major concentration.

"Those who are teaching these classes are some of our best faculty and they have put a lot of effort into creating this year's offerings," said Kennan. "Faculty collaboration between colleagues has been especially important to our making these opportunities available to our students."

The courses are certified by the Quality Matters Program, a national, faculty-centered, peer review process designed to ensure quality online courses and components. The 2014 Wintermester catalog covers disciplines like art, economics, English, psychology and also includes CORE curriculum classes.

"The Wintermester is a great solution for transfer students who need some required or prerequisite classes before multiple junior or senior classes," said Rodrigo Hernandez, associate professor of accounting and finance, who is teaching FINC 331: Introduction to Business Finance. "Otherwise, graduation gets delayed a semester. This has much more relevance recently as we see more students taking the first two years at community colleges and then transferring to RU for the last two years."

Tal Zarankin, assistant professor of management, is teaching MGNT 471: Special Topics: Professional Communication. He said: "To give students the best experience I can, I record my lectures, some with audio and video and others just with audio. I also use Skype to interact with small groups of students."

Wintermester was one of 10 programs recognized in the 2013 edition of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia's (SCHEV) "Innovation in Higher Education" as a program that created or enhanced opportunities to lead to more college graduates, greater employability and a strong economy for the future of all Virginians.

Jan 8, 2014