November 29, 2020

Health science classes yield low enrollment

Arthur Johnson, a senior film production major, was eagerly awaiting the start of his morning kickball class until he learned it was canceled due to low enrollment.
Before the first fall 2011 term, three health science classes were canceled, and six were canceled before term two because fewer than five students enrolled in the classes.

“Some of these courses require a critical mass — like kickball,” said Thao Dang-Williams, associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. “It was our hope that when we canceled the course that there would be enough time for them (the students) to enroll in a different class.”
With kickball no longer an option, Johnson filled the time slot with Strength and Conditioning. He took the class because he found himself falling out of shape and gaining weight.

BRITTANY RUESS / THE JOURNAL

The one credit-hour health science classes, which include activites like volleyball, tennis, dodgeball, Zumba and yoga, are offered every semester but see small enrollment numbers. Only 249 students are enrolled in the 23 health science classes this semester.

Tennis coach Michael Siener thinks more students should be taking health science classes. Not only can the classes bump a schedule up to full-time to qualify for financial aid, but students should also be mindful of their physical fitness.

“I think as coaches, we’re a little surprised by the low number,” Siener said. “We’ve got 2,500 undergraduates and there are not a lot of opportunities to get a workout on campus.”

Out of the ten students in Siener’s class on Monday and Wednesday from 10-11:20 a.m., five are athletes who are taking the class to stay in shape for their sport. Junior business management major Cody Hafeli said he took the class because he had to for baseball, but he would feel lazy if he didn’t do some sort of exercise in the offseason.

“This is a very liberal school, so people might be more focused on their major than physical fitness,” Hafeli said.

Dang-Williams and department chair of Biological Sciences Stephanie Schroeder are unsure why more students are not taking health science classes. Dang-Williams suggested the reason could be that health science classes are often offered at the same time as required classes.

“Because it is not a required course, there’s not as much of a pull to take these classes,” Dang-Williams said. “Different majors have lots of requirements.”

Dang-Williams said that the budget is also a factor. If a class like kickball only gets four students, and another class like biology gets the same number, one of the classes has to be cut.  She said it’s more important for those four students to get their required biology class than kickball.
Other times, popular health science classes like Zumba and yoga fill up quickly each semester. Zumba for Spring 2 is already full. Schroeder and Dang-Williams are also conflicted in these situations when they run out of space to offer classes.

“We would love to grow the health sciences, but we are limited by space,” Dang-Williams said. “Especially when it comes to the most popular courses.”

Even though he initially wanted to take kickball, Johnson is glad he got to take a course involving exercise this semester. He said it is a great stress reliever, and though he is not an athlete like some others in his class, he has worked closely with Siener to develop a workout plan that works for him.

“There’s a lot of good equipment here, but unfortunately not a lot of people utilize it,” Johnson said. “It’s a shame.”

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