7/13/2020 WALC, Summer, Early Start Classes

Students in a summer psychology course sit wearing masks in the Wilmeth Active Learning Center while listening to an in-person lecture.

Boilers returning to campus this fall may want to check their schedules, as professors have started to shift some of their classes online.

Undergraduate students were initially given until July 6 to opt into online classes or choose the residential option by default and return to campus in the fall, with the possibility that some classes might shift to a hybrid format, per the Protect Purdue website. 

More and more students who chose to return to campus in the fall have seen some of their classes moved online though, and some complain that nearly all of their classes were changed to remote delivery. 

The Office of the Registrar sent an email to students Wednesday afternoon, clarifying that though some changes are being made to schedules as part of the process of preparing for the fall, students' schedules are not finalized until July 23.

"There is nothing you need to do right now to support these changes," the email reads. "Any changes needed after your schedule is finalized on July 23 may be made once open registration begins on July 24."

Jonathan Neal, a professor of entomology, explained that the University left the decision of class format largely up to individual professors. 

“They encouraged the instructors to do as much face-to-face as possible,” Neal said, “but basically it’s up to the instructor to determine what’s the best way for students to learn the material and engage with the class.” 

Neal explained that he chose to move his introductory entomology class completely online for the fall, saying it is an active-learning class made up of mostly group work and discussions, and therefore would function better in this format. 

“My experience last spring,” he said, “after we went to distance-only, is that the teams worked very well together online.” 

But with classes moving online, many students and parents are angry at the amount of new classes that have turned virtual. Parents raised complaints on Facebook Purdue parent groups about the price difference between sending students to campus versus online classes as well as concerns about the unnecessary health risks their students face by returning to campus, only to take many classes online. 

According to the Purdue Office of the Bursar website, tuition for 15 credits of online courses for Fall 2020 is $4,390.35 for in-state students and $12,693 for those from out of state. An academic year of residential tuition, however is $9,992 for in-state students and $28,794 for out of state. This figure doesn't take into account the additional $10,000 costs of room and board or meal plan pricing. 

Kimberly Cook, whose daughter, Haley Cook, is a junior in Kinesiology at Purdue, also expressed her frustration with what she sees as Purdue’s lack of communication about which classes would be moved online before the deadline to choose either option. 

Cook said that in addition to paying out-of-state tuition, her daughter signed a housing contract with her sorority last year, making her culpable for lease payments regardless of if she returns to campus or not. 

Regardless of the price, Cook said her major issue wasn’t the cost of her daughter returning to campus, but Purdue’s lack of communication of online class availability. 

She said her daughter, hesitant to return to a campus full of students, contacted her advisor multiple times to see if she could take the online-only option without jeopardizing her ability to graduate a semester early as planned.

On July 6, only two of her daughter’s classes were available online, Cook said. Faced with returning to campus or delaying her graduation, she said her daughter “bit the bullet” and chose to return, only for more of her courses to be made available online the following day. 

“How late in the game are they going to make changes like this?” Cook asked. “For Purdue to require students to make a decision by July 6, to opt in or out without all the information and finalized class schedules, is like telling them their opinions don’t matter.” 

She said with the addition of these courses, her daughter would have been able to take classes fully online and still graduate when planned. 

“Since Purdue had so many late additions to the schedule and changes that are not hybrid,” Cook said, “they should give students the option to review the changes to their schedules and opt-in with the international students’ deadline.” 

Purdue announced Wednesday that international undergraduate students will have until July 23 to opt-in for online classes for the fall. The announcement was a response to the July 6 Immigration and Customs Enforcement mandate that international students taking all-online courses in the fall will not retain visas for the Fall 2020 semester and will have to vacate the country. 

A Purdue spokesperson did not respond immediately Monday afternoon for comment.

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