NJIT Should Hold Winter Classes Online. It’s Simply Mathematical. 

NJIT Should Hold Winter Classes Online. It’s Simply Mathematical. 

Winter break is a time when college students get to go home, spend time with family and high school friends, and catch up on lost sleep. However, it can often be tempting for students to capitalize on this short break to either catch up on a missed class or jump slightly ahead, as the three-week-long period is the shortest class session offered by NJIT.  

However, winter registration does not line up with the desires of the NJIT administration and students. For both students and the university to get the most out of this study period, most, if not all, winter courses, should be held online.  

Not many other students are around, and food is not readily available, as Highlander Commons closes for the winter. In addition, there is a general lack of campus life, as most clubs become inactive during the break. Students simply do not want to be alone on campus during the coldest and darkest days of the year.  

While the university is past the days when all classes had to be online or socially distanced, there are special circumstances surrounding the winter session. Various communicable diseases such as COVID-19 and seasonal variants of influenza are likely to peak in late December and early January, given that holidays are all but certain to cause a spike. While case numbers are currently staying steady in New Jersey, the state’s larger — and more populated — neighbor, New York, has seen an increase in daily new cases, from about 3,000 per day before Thanksgiving to around 5,000 by mid-December.  

These numbers are not a reason to panic; however, these findings may be helpful in order to keep the community safe this winter. This year’s respiratory syncytial virus surge has also been unprecedented, and there will likely be a surge in all infectious diseases after the holidays, as millions of people are travelling and interacting with people in close and intimate quarters. At least three winter classes are already scheduled to be run “synchronous online,” including MECH 235, CE 332, and PHIL 337, the last of which had originally been scheduled to meet in-person. All three of these classes are filled.  

One need not poll the NJIT community to see that students desire online winter classes. Students are voting with their registrations — and their tuition dollars. As of 1 p.m. on Dec. 9, the in-person winter 2022–23 classes NJIT is offering in person are 42% full, while those offered online are 81% full; this is nearly a two-fold difference.  

This effect may even be an underestimation, as many online classes have skewed percentages because they became so popular that an extra section was added. For the calculation, the assumption is that an average student pays in-state tuition, as some students receive financial aid and others pay out-of-state or international fees. Running these classes face-to-face may cost the university more than $609,800 in lost tuition when considering that a three-credit class costs $1,737.  

To better illustrate this point, one can consider one three-credit class, CHEM 125, as a microcosm for the entire winter session. This class is currently 45% full, with nine out of 20 seats filled, and is thus a reasonable representation of a typical winter face-to-face class that NJIT would offer. If it were offered online and accrued 81% capacity, the class would be expected to have an additional seven students register, for a total of 16.  

This amounts to approximately $12,159 of lost tuition for just this class. Even more interestingly, past registration data shows that that last winter, when the class was offered synchronously online, it had exactly 16 students enrolled, showing that CHEM 125 was more popular when students did not have to come to campus. Therefore, it simply makes financial and mathematical sense for NJIT to offer more of its winter classes online.  

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Nicholas Merlino

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