Applications to Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad fell this year, and 15 out of 33 are under-enrolled as of the initial Feb. 15 deadline.
While Tina Kirk, director of study abroad at the Center for International and Professional Experience, acknowledged that total applications have fallen, she said the increase in number of under-subscribed classes was a result of a changed application process. Many students who had taken Summer Session Programs Abroad — classes that allow students to take Yale-taught courses in global settings — were surprised by the decreased popularity of their programs, and professors interviewed expressed hope that their classes would not be canceled.
English professor Grant Wiedenfeld, who teaches “Paris and the Cinema” in Paris, and French professor Françoise Schneider, who teaches the “Advanced Culture and Conversation” course, also in Paris, said they are puzzled by the drop in applications this year, given good reviews of the courses in the past.
Wiedenfeld added that he would be disappointed if his course is canceled because of under-enrollment.
“I really want to teach that class,” he said.
Kirk explained that previously, applicants to the Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad could indicate three class choices. If a student was not admitted to his or her first choice, their application was automatically reviewed for the second and third options. This year, applicants could only list one choice. As a result, students who were not accepted to their first choice were not automatically reviewed for any other programs, Kirk said.
However, Czech and Slavic Languages and Literatures professor Karen von Kunes, who teaches the course in “In Kafka’s Spirit: Prague Film and Fiction,” said there was less communication from CIPE this year. She said she was very concerned about the under-enrollment of her class.
“I almost stopped sleeping after hearing about it,” von Kunes said. If her class were to be canceled, von Kunes said “it would be disastrous for the people in Prague who depend heavily on it as a source of income, and [I] haven’t told them about the under-enrollment.”
Von Kunes said the lack of communication between officers in charge of Yale Summer Session and course instructors, and between instructors and potential students, was the main reason for the decline in applications to her class.
In the past, representatives from CIPE would show up to classes that the Yale Summer Session professors teach during the spring and fall semesters in order to promote the programs, but von Kunes said no one came this year.
“[The application process] has become more impersonal and more mechanical,” von Kunes said. “That makes it hard to attract students.”
But Wiedenfeld said he has been in constant communication with Kirk. He also said he prefers to advertise the course in classes on his own because he knows the course material better than the officers at CIPE.
Frederick Frank ’16, who listed von Kunes’ class as his first choice and attended the program last summer, said he was surprised by the drop in application numbers because of its popularity in the past.
“It’s an amazing experience; we visited many places that I wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to go to,” he said.
However, Kirk said that based on past experience, the majority of the programs with available seats will fill up and remain scheduled for the summer.
CIPE has extended the application deadline for all under-enrolled Yale Summer Session abroad programs to Wednesday, March 4.