May Session will no longer be free after this year, a move met with early mixed reaction from students.
Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Steinmetz told The Lantern in a Tuesday interview that tuition will be charged for May Session starting next spring, and that the entire model of summer courses could be different as well.
The University Senate fiscal committee recommended last year that Ohio State should start charging for the three credit hours in May Session, which are currently free to students enrolled full-time during Spring Semester. But Steinmetz said he wanted to wait until 2016 because by then, most of the students who attended OSU during the semester switch would have graduated.
May Session was created when OSU switched to semesters from quarters in 2012. It’s a four-week session that’s separate from the seven-week Summer Session, which together comprise Summer Term. This year, it starts May 11 and ends June 5.
Students who enrolled in May Session are still responsible for paying student fees, including Central Ohio Transit Authority and activity fees, which total $46.75 this year for three credit hours.
Without the tuition waiver, the three credit hours for May Session would cost about $1,190 in general and instructional fees alone, plus an out-of-state surcharge for students who aren’t Ohio residents.
Last year, a budget review committee issued a report that estimated the university could expect an $11 million to $12 million revenue gain each year if students were charged for Maymester, assuming an 8.5 percent participation rate.
Steinmetz said he and President Michael Drake have been talking about ways to make better use of Summer Semester in general. One way, he said, would be through offering more online courses. Others are more complex.
“The other might be to re-envision how we are using May along with the Summer Session,” he said. “There’s all kinds of ways to think about how you would divide that time up, into thirds, into half. There’s other ways to look at it.”
He said because there’s a four-week May Session and then a seven-week Summer Session, there’s the possibility to have four-week, eight-week and 11-week classes.
“Those are three possibilities that would all allow you to use that May Session together with the other parts of the summer,” Steinmetz said.
First-year in neuroscience Hannah Konicki said she hasn’t had to take a May Session course yet, but likes having the option as long as it’s available.
“I think I would, definitely,” she said. “I’m pre-med, so a lot of what I’m doing during the semester is just my science classes, and if I had the Maymester that goes through the whole summer, I could get my gen-eds done, because I want to minor. So, I have to take a lot of classes in summer anyway.”
Caroline Mashni, a second-year in business, said she agrees with Steinmetz’s decision to charge for the classes.
“I think that the fact the university was compensating for the quarter-to-semester change with the free Maymester is a valid reason to make it not free anymore, because students are not going to be struggling with the quarter-to-semester change anymore,” she said.
She added that she still would take the May Session class even though it is not free, but prefers to stick to the seven-week summer session.
But Spencer Uram, a third-year in material science engineering, said May Session classes simply do not interest him.
“I work over the summer, so there really is not a huge draw for me to take a class over the summer, especially if it’s not going to be free anymore,” Uram said. “I could go to a community college and get a cheap credit out of the way if I needed to.”
There’s been discussion among OSU’s professional schools about the College of Arts and Sciences offering more general education courses during May Session, Steinmetz said. But the problem is that “May Session isn’t a good time for some gen-eds.”
“So a good example is an English literature course, you probably don’t wanna take in four weeks and read 26 books or something,” he said. “That’s probably not going to quite work. But there are other types of courses that I think are really well-suited to four weeks.”
He also mentioned that Vice Provost for Academic Programs Randy Smith has been working with a group to come up with recommendations about how to most effectively use Summer Session and May Session together.
“So it’s sort of, in a way, an evaluation of that session, of whether it’s achieving the things that we want or not,” Steinmetz said.
He added that he and Drake also “have a group that we formed that’s … going to come back to us with some thoughts about summer.”
“I don’t know if we’d even call it a May Session anymore, so it depends what comes out of this,” he said.
Giustino Bovenzi contributed to this article.