June 25, 2020
You won’t know it from their mostly empty campuses, but colleges and universities will be bustling this summer.
With millions of Americans unemployed or reluctant to travel or socialize because of the Covid-19 pandemic, and even though most courses will be online, summer registrations at colleges nationwide appear to be booming.
At Ozarks Technical Community College in Missouri, for example, 3,907 students have signed up for online courses, a number 67 percent higher than it was last summer, said Hal Higdon, chancellor of the six-campus system.
It’s more than just another pandemic-related blip, said Higdon; it’s a wake-up call to the rest of higher education that schools should stop shutting down in the summer, a tradition that dates to a time when students had to go home to help on the farm, and that he said persists because of inertia.
Limits on what most institutions offer in the summer result from “laziness and lack of leadership,” Higdon said. “We’re still tied to an agrarian calendar that goes back to the 1700s.”