UBWinter increases in popularity

40 percent more students enrolled in program's second year


Silvana D’Ettorre spent her winter break scaling archeological sites, exploring ancient ruins, riding on gondolas and strolling through the picturesque streets of Rome.

But she wasn’t on vacation, she was taking a class in the second run of UB’s winter session. The session, introduced last year, increased its enrollment in 2015 by 40 percent; 1,533 students enrolled in classes, according to Matt Blum, director of summer and winter enrollment in the Office of the Vice Provost for Enrollment Management. Winter session credits cost the same as the preceding fall term. From online classes to on-campus yoga and economic classes to study abroad trips to Italy, students had a chance to knock out some credit hours while others sat at home and watched Netflix for the last six weeks.

“For my program, we didn’t actually sit in a classroom and learn, we did more experiential learning by visiting archaeological sites, museums and important landmarks within Naples and Rome,” D’Ettorre said. “It was very liberating knowing we weren't required to sit in a classroom during the short 18 days we had in Italy, and the best way to learn is through experience and through seeing things first hand.”

D’Ettorre, a junior health and human services major, participated in the Classics in the Mediterranean winter study abroad session in Italy. D’Ettorre said because she had prior commitments, it was more convenient and cost-efficient for her to travel abroad for a few weeks than an entire semester.

Blum said there was about a 37 percent increase in credit hours. Last year, 1,098 students registered for 3,618 credit hours.

“As we complete our second year, our office is not only evaluating course demand, but the platforms we deliver those courses [such as] on campus, online [or] hybrid,” Blum said. “Furthermore, we envision winter supporting UB’s retention and graduation goals including our ‘Finish in 4’ initiative.”

The ‘Finish in 4’ program, which is now going SUNY-wide, encourages students to graduate on time.

UB also offered students the option of spending the winter abroad and earning credits. Students traveled all over the world to countries such as Barbados, Belize, France, Germany, China, Italy, England, Moldova, New Zealand, Tanzania and Turkey.

About 190 students studied abroad this winter, according to Olga Crombie, assistant director of the Study Abroad Programs Office.

Bradley Ault, associate professor and director of graduate studies of Classics, led 14 students, including D’Ettore, through the antiquity of Rome and Naples while providing his insights on Classics. D’Ettorre also enjoyed a myriad of Italian food staples such as homemade pasta, gelato and wine.

“I think studying abroad during the winter session is a great idea because the experience allows you to see a new place in the world and experience its culture but within a time span that is manageable and that works with your academic schedule,” D’Ettorre said.

James Adegbite, a junior psychology major, said he had fun while enrolled in a Hatha yoga course this winter.

“I like to be physically active and to be challenged in that aspect, so to take yoga for three weeks was definitely more fun to have done rather than an entire semester,” Adegbite said.

Katja Praznik, an assistant professor of media study, conducted an independent study class this winter on entitled Arts/Culture Policy and Diplomacy.

Independent study allows students to work under the guidance of a faculty member, according to the undergraduate catalog. They are designed to offer topics that are not offered through traditional UB coursework.

“Because the course was conducted as an independent study, the student received a comprehensive reading list and has had meetings with the me as the instructor to discuss the topics,” Praznik said. “This was the first time I had a course during winter session. Last summer, I was teaching a summer course, a study abroad program in Vienna, which was much more interesting and there was much more time.”

Shelly Hutchison, a sophomore exercise science major took Physics 102 online this online. She sat home and watched online lectures.

“I learned the same information that I would have received had I taken it during the semester and it was fast-paced,” Hutchison said.

Shelly Hutchison, a sophomore exercise sciences major, enrolled in Economics 182, an intro to microeconomics course, this winter. Both Hutchison and Tawakali found it easier to balance their workload because they were enrolled with one course as opposed to an entire semester worth of courses.

“I think that because you’re only focusing on one class it gives you more time to worry about one class so you have more study time rather than taking it during a regular semester where you have to memorize from the beginning of the year and put it on a final exam,” Tawakali said.

Some students, like sophomore undecided major Nisha Daigler, who enrolled in online ethics class Philosophy 107, did not find the winter session classes to be much easier.

“We had a test every week, three written answers due every week and a final paper which seemed a bit much for an ethics course,” Daigler said.

Nisha added there is, however, a more one-on-one experience during the winter session than the fall or spring.

Blum said that UB may consider offering more online and experiential learning opportunities for future winter sessions.

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