Year-Round Campus Helps Make Higher Education More Affordable 

 

Students at the University of Mary are able to enjoy everything North Dakota and Bismarck have to offer during the summer months

Students at the University of Mary are able to enjoy everything North Dakota and Bismarck have to offer during the summer months

BISMARCK, ND — Although fall semester at the University of Mary begins Wednesday, September 7, 2016, activity, classes and the excitement of college life never stopped on campus during the summer months. That’s because the University of Mary experienced its first full year of Year-Round Campus (YRC) with 112 students participating.

Freshmen in YRC who started fall of 2015 just wrapped up their summer semester—third overall—and are only one semester shy of becoming juniors, a timeline that will come to fruition once spring semester begins after Christmas break. By May 2017 these students will have completed their degree in two-and-half-years, or eight consecutive semesters, and eligible to get their master’s degree in four years.

Monsignor James Shea

Monsignor James Shea, President of the University of Mary

“The University of Mary is listening,” said Monsignor James Shea, president of the University of Mary. “We are building a Year-Round Campus program that allows us to be nimble with risk and thrift just as our founders, the Benedictine Sisters, were in 1878 when they arrived on the Northern Plains. The growing sentiment nationwide is that a college education is too costly, takes too long to complete and no longer provides a healthy return on investment. Those traditional options at the University of Mary remain intact and as excellent as before. But all the evidence tells us that yesterday’s model will not be the norm of the future. In fact, what we are doing with Year-Round Campus is establishing the new norm.”

Unlike accelerated degrees, Year-Round Campus offers the same course load as traditional full-time degree programs while utilizing two summer semesters to speed up time to completion.

“This is not a ‘fast-track’ program,” said Michael McMahon, assistant vice president for Enrollment Services. “Students enrolled in our Year-Round Campus receive the same meaningful human formation as students in our traditional undergraduate and graduate programs but finish early because their program now includes two vibrant summer semesters.”

Some students enjoyed Medora and the beautiful Badlands while enrolled in Year-Round Campus at Mary

Some students enjoyed Medora and the beautiful Badlands while enrolled in Year-Round Campus at Mary

The University of Mary is truly a campus for all seasons. But it’s not all work and no play for YRC students. Some students and faculty took advantage of the beautiful North Dakota summer months by hiking and camping in Medora, enjoying a bonfire along the Missouri River, kayaking on Lake Harmon and other outdoor classroom excursions.

YRC, a first-of-its-kind option, provides a new and radical pathway for completing traditional undergraduate and graduate degrees in less time and at a lower cost, with normal course loads and a full college experience.

By adding a full semester to the school year, University of Mary’s innovative Year-Round Campus gives students the opportunity to study throughout the year, graduate sooner and get a head start on life and career. Based on the university’s analysis, the incremental savings, increased earnings, and reduced student loan balances would result in lifetime financial benefits of over $300,000 for a bachelor’s degree—and over $600,000 for a master’s degree or higher.

Students at the University of Mary are able to enjoy everything Bismarck has to offer during the summer months including some of the fine eateries

Students at the University of Mary are able to enjoy everything Bismarck has to offer during the summer months including some of the fine eateries

While university officials believe Year-Round Campus provides creative solutions to the challenges higher education is facing, they realize many students still prefer the traditional undergraduate and graduate programs, especially in terms of summer employment, internships, practicums, and vacations.

As the fall semester begins, the latest start ever at the University of Mary due to the implementation of YRC, the exact total fall enrollment numbers won’t be known until October, when they are reported to the federal government. However, McMahon reports this year’s freshman class appears to be a bit ahead of last year’s, and that overall enrollment continues to grow.