In the second year of state-sponsored Summer Sessions, UCSB is seeing more students, more classes and a new program for incoming freshmen.

Changes to this year’s Summer Sessions include 20 more courses from last year – totaling 650 – along with more courses that are commonly impacted during the regular school year and are required for graduation. More courses are also being offered in Session B from Aug. 5 to Sept. 13, and more departments are offering summer courses, including those in the College of Engineering.

As of June 21, the number of Summer Sessions students totaled 8,291, an increase of 11 percent since the same time last summer. So far this year students have registered for 78,793 units, an average study load of 9.5 units per student.

UCSB will offer a new program, called Freshman Summer Start Program, to incoming freshmen during Session B under the direction of Dean Alan Wyner. The program begins Aug. 3 and runs through Sept. 14. So far, 256 incoming freshmen students have enrolled in this program.

The state provided $20.7 million to UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UCSB for Summer Sessions in 2001-2002 according to Gov. Gray Davis’ 2002-2003 budget. As a result, Summer Session attendance at these campuses grew by 55 percent.

Every summer the Office of Summer Sessions collaborates with academic departments to distribute a survey along with course evaluation forms. Last summer the survey asked students why they attended Summer Sessions along with other questions to devise ways of improving the program.

“We do this to better understand why students attend Summer Sessions at UCSB and to determine whether changes in structure and course offerings might make Summer Sessions more attractive to students,” Associate Director of Summer Sessions Robert Mann said.

A wide consultative process of deans, department chairs, management services officers and others made changes to the existing Summer Sessions program and developed the summer curriculum. Major changes in the structure of Summer Sessions are recommended to the Chancellor’s Coordinating Committee on Year-Round Enrollment after students take the survey.

Recommendations to the committee can also be made in regard to regular year programs, however it is not known if the survey will affect the regular year course offerings, Mann said.

The findings from last year’s survey indicate that students attend Summer Sessions because financial aid is available, classes fulfill degree requirements, fees are lower and UCSB is close to where they live.

The popular 8-unit fee cap – the summer undergraduate discount program introduced last summer – is back for this year’s session with the support of the Chancellor’s Coordinating Committee on Year-Round Enrollment to encourage students to take more summer courses.

With the fee cap, UC undergraduate students pay $76 per unit for the first eight units, but no extra unit fees will be charged for additional courses. Financial aid is available again to eligible UCSB students. Career staff employees will also be able to take courses at a reduced rate of $25 per unit.

Ninety percent of students who responded said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their overall experience at UCSB Summer Sessions, and 80 percent rated the quality of summer courses at UCSB the same or better than other college courses they had taken.

“I’m going to Summer Sessions because of the good class selection, which enables me to fulfill both my major and GE requirements,” junior sociology major Lindsay Ohab said. “It’s also cheaper to do summer school because I pay out-of-state tuition.”