Summer Classes Serve a Number of Purposes for GCU Students
By Bob Romantic
GCU News Bureau
For John Lopez, it’s an opportunity to take that one last elective he needs to graduate with a degree in finance and economics.
For Malynda Carter, it’s a chance to finish up her nursing degree before being stationed at Elmendorf-Richardson Joint Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska.
For Keegan Williams, it caps a busy three years in which she was a track athlete and cheerleader.
And for Meagan Demers, well, she just hopes she makes it to the end of classes on Aug. 16 – she’s pregnant and due to deliver her first child on Aug. 17.
The four are among nearly 2,000 students who began attending summer school classes this week at Grand Canyon University, an enrollment increase of 67 percent from last year.
“It’s just the law of numbers,” Sarah Boeder, GCU’s executive vice president of operations, said of the summer enrollment increase, which coincides with a projected 60 percent spike over the last two years in the number of students enrolled during the regular school year. “The more students you have overall, the more you get in summer school.”
The incentives for summer school enrollment also are significant. Tuition is just $290 per credit hour (with the exception of nursing students), compared to $687.50 during the school year. Housing costs also are less expensive — $800 for 14 weeks, compared to $1,500-$2,200 per semester during the school year.
“All the way around, it’s a really good financial deal,” Boeder said.
That deal, coupled with the opportunity to graduate early, makes summer school an attractive option and is a big selling point to prospective students – especially in California, where the cost of private Christian education is significantly higher.
“Here, you can come to Arizona, pay lower tuition and graduate sooner,” Boeder said. “That’s very enticing to families. Suddenly, living at home and saving a little money on living expenses while going to college is not as big a deal.”
That was part of the appeal for Williams, who came to GCU from Kansas City, Kan., and spent two years on the track team and this past year was a cheerleader while working on her bachelor’s degree in nursing.
“I’m nervous (about finishing school), but summer school has been good because I don’t have any distractions with sports,” said Williams, one of nearly 150 students living on campus this summer at Prescott Hall. “It’s weird in the summer because the campus is so empty. The parking is nice, though!”
Carter, a commuter student from Peoria, said summer school is better than the alternative.
“It serves its purpose. Some people have failed a class and it’s a chance to retake it,” she said while sitting at a lunch table in the Student Union with fellow Level 5 nursing students Demers, Rendee Riefkohl and Ashley Mosteller. “For us, we want to be done with school. Why sit around and do a low-end waitress job like I did last summer when I could finish my school?”
Monica Ochoa commutes daily from Gilbert to take one science class and lab during the summer.
“I wanted to get my science courses out of the way so I could graduate in December,” said Ochoa, who is studying to become a physician’s assistant and one day hopes to become a doctor. “Summer school is way more intense, but it’s better because I’ll get done faster and be closer to my goal.”
Demers’ goals are twofold: to finish her nursing degree this summer and become a mother, hopefully in that order.
“My thought was it would be easier going through the last seven weeks pregnant than it would be to go through it with a newborn,” said Demers, who has started the first seven-week block of Level 5 nursing courses, then will take the final seven-week block from July 1-Aug. 16. “We’ll see how it plays out.
“My husband (Ryan) and I decided we would re-evaluate in seven weeks. If there are no complications, we’ll go for it.”
The final seven weeks are filled with a preceptorship in which Demers will shadow a professional nurse for two 12-hour shifts per week. That’s a lot of time on your feet, so Demers is hoping to front-load many of those preceptor days in the first five weeks.
“We’re just trying really hard to make this happen,” said Demers, who is expecting a girl. “If I have my baby, I’d like to have my schoolwork done and be able to devote my attention full time to my family.”
Contact Bob Romantic at 639.7611 or [email protected].