Girard helps students with USD’s summer offerings

Gary Girard

Gary Girard

By Travis Gulbrandson

Even though the University of South Dakota’s spring semester is officially over, that doesn’t mean classes have come to a stop.

The 2013 On-Campus Summer School began on May 6, offering students and teachers a number of educational opportunities.

“One of the strategies that students use with summer school would be, if they want to accelerate a degree program and graduate early, or perhaps they’ll want to take a course that’s intensive and they’ll just want to take it by itself in the summer,” said USD’s director of programming Gary Girard, who manages the summer school program. “It’s an opportunity for departments to offer select courses that are unique and … for students who are in a particular degree program.”

Classes of varying lengths are held throughout the summer, he said.

“We have all kinds of start and end dates, so there’s a lot of flexibility depending upon the kind of course,” he said. “Some of the courses can be offered in an accelerated format, like a four-week course.”

Summer school programs are categorized in a variety of ways.

“One, students can take general education courses, and even upper-division courses to accelerated degree,” Girard said.

Teachers and school administrators, as well as non-college-aged youth are the focus of other areas, he said.

“We hold camps and workshops for teachers and administrators, and then all kinds of youth camps where K-12 youth come to get a college experience, or focus on a special academic topic,” he said.

Among the youth-oriented programs is Kid’s University/Early Scholars.

Kid’s University is for early learners from ages 8-13, while Early Scholars is geared for high school students to develop their skills and to prepare for college. The goal of the program is to expand postsecondary education opportunities to promote and cultivate a college-going culture.

Summer school also gives USD students a chance to get a start on prerequisite courses or take refresher courses.

“There are a variety of courses that are offered in a hybrid format, where there are convenient offerings that would be a face to face experience along with an online experience,” Girard said.

“The other thing that’s nice about summer that’s attractive to some students is that they can take … one course at a time,” he said. “Somebody could take one six-week course, and then another six-week course, and they’ll only be taking one course at a time. Or, they can mix and match that.”

Girard said that although he does not know exactly how many students are utilizing the program this term, those students do have input in what courses are offered.

“We do survey the students prior to the start to see what kinds of courses they would look for,” he said. “We try to get as much feedback as possible, and then align courses that way. Departments then will offer the courses accordingly.”

The program offers benefits both to the school and the students, Girard said.

“It’s an opportunity for departments to offer select courses that are unique and … for students who are in a particular degree program,” he said.

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