Winterim popularity

The 2005 winterim session saw a record number of students enrolled, according to figures released by the university.

Since the three-week session was implemented in 1996, it has grown from 321 undergraduate students to 1,378 this year, said Kay Magadance, an institutional planner at UW-Eau Claire.

Sophomore Matt Mink, who took the literature course Cowboy As Myth, said winterim offers a wide variety of course selections. In 2005, the session offered more than 65 classroom courses, including several that were Web-based.

In winterim’s first year, the university offered just 13 courses.

“There’s a wide range of options,” Mink said. “Whatever you need, there is a good chance you will find it.”

Winterim enrollment has steadily increased every year since its inception. The only exception was in 2003, when the number of courses was cut by eight.

The 2005 session, which ran from Jan. 3-21, bested last year’s enrollment of 1,271.

Associate Vice Chancellor Steve Tallant said students are beginning to reap the benefits that winterim has to offer.

“I think students are realizing that it’s a fabulous way to get ahead or get caught up and graduate in a timely manner,” Tallant said.

Mink agreed, saying winterim puts students on the right track for graduating on time.

“I would recommend the winterim to anyone who is looking to get credits,” Mink said. “If people want to get out in four years, I would think the winterim is a good way to guarantee it.”

Mink said with only one class, another advantage to winterim is the relaxed atmosphere.

“Winterim almost seemed to be more close-knit,” Mink said. “It was pretty laid back and so students got to have a good time with each other.”

Winterim also is available to people who do not regularly attend the university, such as students from other colleges who are originally from the Eau Claire area and are home for winter break. Magadance said it is hard to pinpoint exactly how many of those students attended the 2005 session.

Sophomore John Werner, who took Business Writing, said while winterim was beneficial overall, there were drawbacks.

“It’s more work than you expect, and classes sometimes get really long,” Werner said.

Blake Westerlund, an English professor, said the advantages of winterim also extend to the professors.

“As an instructor, I don’t find the three-hours-a-day schedule daunting but more of a challenge,” Westerlund said. “In winterim, it is essential to vary the pace of (teaching) approaches to … increase their chance of success.”

Westerlund also favors the idea of students focusing on only one class.

“I like that many, if not all, remember what I said two days ago instead of sorting through two weeks of notes,” Westerlund said. “Not to be selfish, but winterim is what most profs want always – all of the students’ attention for just your class.”