High school grads take advantage of COD summer classes
Brother and sister, Matt and Michelle Palka, both Hinsdale Central graduates, take summer classes at College of DuPage. Michelle has completed one year at St. Louis University; Matt is headed to St. Louis this fall. | Chuck Fieldman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 20, 2012 6:18AM
GLEN ELLYN — Taking summer classes at College of DuPage for students attending other institutions during the regular school year has become increasingly popular over the past four years.
And students from Lyons Township, Hinsdale Central, and Hinsdale South are part of that trend.
The total number of reverse transfer students, which is how the community college refers to those enrolled in summer classes while attending other schools, has increased by about 1 1/2 times since 2009.
A struggling economy certainly was a big trigger in more students opting to take summer classes, which is almost always considerably less expensive than four-year colleges and universities. But Julie Marlatt, COD’s coordinator of the office of admissions and outreach, said there are several benefits for students.
Marlatt said some students take summer classes after graduating from high school and before heading off to a four-year college. Some students enroll after already experiencing a year or more of another college or university during the academic year. And some do both.
“It’s a great opportunity for those in that first group who want to get a leg up and not have brain drain when they head off to another college,” Marlatt said. “It’s a chance for any college student to stay on top of things during the summer. It’s less expensive, and what else are they doing over the summer? It can help to stay sharp over the summer.”
Usually, students attending other colleges or universities during the regular academic year take general education classes at COD and transfer credits to their four-year schools. It’s very easy to find out in advance which COD classes to various other schools around the country, Marlatt said.
“Classes such as English 101, speech communication, math and science probably the most popular,” Marlatt said. “Another advantage of taking those classes here is that those general classes often have a lot more students and have teaching assistants teaching them at four-year schools.”
Siblings Michelle and Matt Palka, 2011 and 2012 grads of Hinsdale Central, respectively, both are making summer classes at COD a major part of their college curriculum.
Michelle is in her second summer classes after completing one year at St. Louis University. Matt is headed to St. Louis this fall.
Both Polkas are taking more than the typical one or two summer classes. Matt is taking four courses — earth science, speech and two in English, and Michelle also is taking four classes, after completing two last summer.
“I’m in a three-year program in St. Louis, so taking some classes here is a big help for me to get things done,” Michelle Palka said, adding she plans to take an additional five courses next summer. “The classes here are not as different as I thought they would be.”
Olivia Beard, a 2011 Hinsdale Central graduate who also has completed her freshman year at St. Louis University, said she headed to COD this summer to take a chemistry class she needs to fulfill a requirement.
“I think it’s awesome here,” she said. “I wasn’t a big fan of the idea at first, but it’s a good opportunity to open up some time in the regular school year. If I had known how nice COD was, I might have come here for a year, instead of going away to school right away.”
Staci Bechtold, a 2012 Lyons Township grad headed to Illinois State University, said she enrolled in summer classes at COD to get ahead.
“I already will have credit from here for classes at Illinois State when I actually start there, and because of that I get earlier registration there, too,” she said.
Eryka Hawkins, a 2011 Hinsdale Central graduate, is taking two classes, but via a different outlet. She is taking speech and accounting online.
“I’m on the women’s soccer team at Georgia State, so it lightens the work load for me during the school year to take these classes during the summer,” she said. “The biggest benefit is that it is a local and well-established college that will transfer the credits to your university. It is very convenient for students who are home for the summer and want to take a few extra credits.”