UC breaks summer enrollment record two years running

Summer term popular among first-year, full-time students, setting stage for a record-breaking fall

School’s "in" for summer at the University of Cincinnati.

This year, UC welcomes its largest summer class in university history by nearly 500 students.

Preliminary summer 2021 enrollment is at 20,618 students, up 2.4% from 2020, when UC previously surpassed the university’s summer enrollment record. 

The upward trajectory represents a longtime trend in summer enrollment.

UC's McMicken Hall lit up with BEARCAT projected on it

Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Summer enrollment increases over the years:

  • Since last year (2020-21): Up 489 students, +2.4%
  • In 5 years (2016-21): Up 1,928 students, +10.3%
  • In 10 years (2011-21): Up 3,448 students, +20.1%
  • In 20 years (2001-21): Up 6,958 students, +50.9%
Jack Miner portrait

Vice Provost for Enrollment Management Jack Miner

“Enrollment for summer is very reflective of where we are as a university,” says Jack Miner, vice provost for enrollment management. “We have experienced eight straight years of record enrollment overall, and we are seeing that growth over all terms.”

In addition to attracting new students, UC has seen significant growth in the retention of students and in graduation rates. During that same eight-year period, UC’s graduation rate has climbed from 59% to 73% — one of the highest in the state. Retention from fall 2020 to spring 2021 stood at 93.7%.

“This has obviously been a difficult year for students studying under COVID and taking many or all of their classes remotely,” Miner says. “While other universities nationally have seen enrollment drop, UC was one of the few in the nation to see growth. We believe that is because of the commitment we have made to our students. Our promise to them — our Bearcat Promise — is that they will not only be successful at UC, but when they graduate with a degree they will also have a career plan. We have maintained that through continuing our commitment to experiential learning and especially to co-op.”

Student uses a laptop

Photo/Lisa Ventre/UC Creative + Brand

Areas of growth

The university saw summer gains in the following colleges:

  • College of Engineering and Applied Science
  • College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services
  • College of Allied Health Sciences

Course subjects with the largest enrollment: 

  • Nursing
  • Biology
  • Math
  • English
  • Electrical engineering

Not only are there more students taking classes this summer, but those students are taking multiple classes and, frequently, on a full-time basis.

College of Engineering and Applied Science student Millie Steen is currently taking a full 17-hour course load this summer after completing her first co-op this past spring. This fall, the aerospace engineering student will return to the same company for another co-op.

"I love being able to alternate between classes and getting real experience in the industry,” Steen says. “It allows me to continue to learn and bring new techniques from the classroom into my job." 

I am taking classes now to benefit me in my future.

Jett Stevens UC student

Staying one step ahead

Taking summer courses is a great opportunity for students because it moves them towards their degree at a quicker pace, vice provost Miner says. 

Jett Stevens portrait

Jett Stevens | Photo/provided

“Because of our commitment to co-op and experiential learning, our students are much more career-focused, so we regularly see that drive to graduate and start or continue pursuing their passion.”

Jett Stevens, a student in the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), is taking some elective courses this summer so he can focus on his major in the fall. As a double music performance major in orchestral percussion and jazz drum set, he has a rigorous course load.

In fact, the very first UC course Stevens took was in the summer before his first semester in fall 2020. This summer, he’s taking three.

“I am taking classes now to benefit me in my future career,” Stevens explains.

Similarly, College of Nursing student Aaliyah Dodson is taking two courses this summer to free up her schedule this fall.

Aaliyah Dodson poses by a UC campus sign

Aaliyah Dodson | Photo/provided

“Being able to take courses over the summer is a huge advantage, especially if you know that your course load for the next semester is going to be a bit heavier,” Dodson says. “You can lighten the load for yourself a little bit to be able to focus more on your tougher courses.”

After an unusual first year in the time of COVID-19, Dodson and Stevens are excited to take more courses in person this fall and enjoy all UC’s campus has to offer.

“As campus returns back to normal in the fall, I am really looking forward to going to football, basketball and volleyball games, enjoying all the fun activities that take place on McMicken Commons, going to any clubs or organization meetings in person and most especially homecoming here at UC,” Dodson says. “I have definitely heard a lot about homecoming week and I am so very excited to be able to enjoy that here for the first time.”

“I am looking forward to going to concerts with full audience attendance and full orchestral attendance amongst the performers, shoulder to shoulder,” Stevens says. “I haven't had this experience in almost two years, and it would be great to get back at full capacity in CCM.” 

UC campus at dusk

UC's uptown campus shines at night. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative + Brand

Forecast for fall

Looking ahead to the fall semester and return to campus, Miner anticipates another record-breaking year. UC’s uptown campus once again had a record number of applicants for fall with more than 22,000, so all signs indicate a ninth straight year of record enrollment overall.

“The entire campus community is excited to be back on campus in the fall,” Miner says. “Beyond in-person classes, our on-campus activities will resume — football returns. Campus life will look like it did pre-COVID. So much of the college experience is that — the experience. It will be wonderful for our students to learn and thrive in the classroom and on campus.”

Learn more about what to expect this fall in the Return to Campus guide.

Featured image at top: UC's bustling MainStreet. Photo/UC Creative + Brand

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