Summer semester enrollment at the University of Montana experienced solid growth for the second year in a row. Director of UM Summer Grace Gardner says over 3,000 students took UM courses and it’s the highest summer enrollment since 2014.

“The numbers will not be final until late next week, but we are looking right around 3%,” Gardner said. “Our graduation numbers are also up. We are very excited that students are finishing their degree in the summer. This translates to less debt and it is an opportunity for them to get out in the work force and career fields earlier.”

3,025 students have paid for their summer courses, which compares to 2,945 a year ago. Last year, UM awarded 422 degrees and that number jumped to 489 this year. Gardner says numbers are up because UM is focusing more on summer.

“Students are seeing it as a part of their degree path,” Gardner said. “60% of students that graduate in four years take a summer course. That is a national statistic from the National Association of Summer Sessions. Students are trying to get creative. They take an online class while they are working full time or while they do an internship, field research or research in the lab. We are so happy we are able to provide those opportunities.”

According to Gardner, summer courses are a lot more flexible than fall and spring courses.

“They are designed for the working student,” Gardner said. “We know that students don’t want to give up their entire summer to go to school. We try get creative. We offer quick three week classes, six week classes, and 12 week classes. The traditional semester is 15 weeks long. We found that students really enjoy that individualized attention and fast paced learning environment.”

Gardner says there are plans to develop more summer institute programs for high school students next summer. Students will have the opportunity to come to campus early and earn college credit at the same time. A similar program for incoming freshman will also be offered.