First winter intersession sparks conversation for next year

By AMBER LI

Staff Writer

Cal Poly Pomona’s pilot two-week winter intersession, held from Jan. 2-16, offered a short selection of upper division, specialized courses and activities for undergraduate students enrolled in the term. 

The accounting department offered three course sections, the international business and marketing department offered two courses and the computer science, mechanical engineering, psychology and business departments each offered a single class.

“(The 2020 winter intersession) was a pilot,” said Zoe Lance, communications specialist for the Office of Student Success. “We needed time to see what classes we could offer without compromising the integrity of the classes.”

A single computer science specialized topic course was offered by the College of Science during the winter intersession.
(Amber Li | The Poly Post)

The winter base tuition fee for zero to four units for undergraduates was $1,275 with an additional $87 per unit for a mandatory educational support fee. Students did not have to pay mandatory auxiliary fees. As well, the dates for winter intersession were included in the fall semester parking permit, not requiring students to purchase an additional parking permit.

Federal, state and institutional financial aid was not available for students enrolled in the winter term. However, the registrar’s office sent out emails assuring students that the university would provide some financial assistance.

“If you are receiving spring 2020 financial aid, any aid that remains after your spring 2020 charges have been fully paid will automatically be applied to any winter 2020 charges,” according to an email sent by the registrar’s office on Oct. 29, 2019.

The registrar’s office began sending emails regarding the first winter intersession during the semester system in mid-October and gave details regarding important dates, courses and registration, financial aid, dining services and parking and housing.

Winter registration dates were originally planned for Oct. 7 and 8 for priority registration and Oct. 9 to Dec. 1 for general registration. However, they were rescheduled even later into the fall semester – Nov. 4 and 5 for priority and Nov. 6 to Dec. 4 for general – as departments raced to decide what courses they could offer with what resources they had.

Some of the factors taken into consideration by the departments were available professors, space and whether there were enough students who wanted to take the classes.

Assistant Professor of Marketing Kristen Schiele said she found out about the winter intersession at a department meeting around the same time as students did. She believed that an intersession was a great opportunity for students to learn highly specialized topics and graduate on time.

“Many of my students were seniors who didn’t want to come back for another semester,” Schiele said.

Schiele’s search engine optimization fundamentals course was completely online, making it convenient for students to complete their course work while on break. All the course work was available on Blackboard, which allowed students to get a head start and submit work early if they wanted to. Due to its flexibility, some of her students who were working full time or who were abroad were able to learn the necessary material and pass the class.

Second-year computer science transfer student Dante Martinez agreed that the intersession was beneficial to students trying to advance academically. “Just offering more courses, especially the ones that are needed, like lower divisions, would really help people get ahead,” Martinez said.

“I think (the winter intersession) provides students with unique opportunities like studying abroad and learning specialized topics,” DeRosa said.

CPP did not offer winter courses during the first year of switching to the semester system in order to make sure the semester conversion transitioned smoothly for all students, staff and faculty. 

“We looked at what other California State Universities were doing as well, and we used it as a guide,” DeRosa said.

Conversations for the 2021 winter intersession are already starting, according to Lance, but the school is currently focused on the summer term.

“I was lucky to have a great group of students who were able to take charge and manage their time well,” Schiele said. “I hope to teach this course again for the next intersession.”

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