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Like many other students lingering at Penn beyond May 11, rising College senior Meredith Perry is keeping busy with class this summer. She is conducting research for her senior thesis and taking a required physics class. It’s “nice to get it over with in one month,” rather than take a three and a half month physics course during senior year, Perry said.

More students may be following Perry’s example. Exact enrollment numbers were not available because the add/drop period has yet to end, and the numbers “are still very fluid,” according to Director of Summer Academic Sessions Eli Lesser. However, the number of students enrolled in the 12-week courses has increased drastically from last year, although enrollment in 6-week classes have not increased significantly, Lesser said.

This could be because students with internships during the day may find the evening schedule of the 12-week summer courses convenient, Lesser added. He said he couldn’t make any conclusions about reasons for summer enrollment trands, although he said the administration plans to take surveys of the student body.

A change in admission policy for the summer enrollment of visiting students from other colleges has resulted in a drastic increase in the number of visiting students enrolled at Penn. Penn is using a pilot program of open enrollment for visiting students who wish to study at Penn for the summer, according to Lesser. Under open-enrollment, any student who signs up for classes can take them.

With open enrollment, Penn is following in the footsteps of schools such as the University of Chicago, Cornell University and Harvard Extention, he explained.

Another new innovation this year is the addition of more online-only courses, which according to Lesser have proved very popular among Penn students. This summer, students can choose from nine online courses instead of the three offered last summer.

Last month, Inside Higher Education reported record-highs in summer enrollment at public institutions. However, as the last day to add and drop summer courses draws closer, Penn’s preliminary enrollment trends do not seem to be in line with this trend.

According to educational consultant Steven Goodman, students might take summer courses at public universities because courses might be less expensive over the summer; or, students who took AP classes in high school can shave a semester or even a year off college by earning supplemental credits during the summer. Ivy students might take summer courses to catch up on requirements in a month rather than over a whole semester, Goodman continued.

However, Goodman emphasized that comparing Ivy schools and Public universities is difficult.

Even though enrollment in 12-week classes has increased, the number of high school students who applied for Penn’s capped pre-college programs has decreased very slightly, despite a trend of steady applicant growth over the past several years, Applications and Admissions Coordinator Chris Veitz said.

These numbers contrast those at other Ivy League schools. The number of high school students enrolled at Brown for summer has increased 20 percent since last year, according to Geoffrey Chrisholm, director of marketing at Brown University . Similarly enrollment of high school students at Columbia University’s pre-college programs has increased by almost 7 percent, and has been growing steadily since 2006, according to George Calderaro, Director of communications at Columbia.

Calerado said he attributes increased high schooler enrollment at Columbia to the increased competitiveness of college admissions and the increased importance of “having academic credentials on their applications.”

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