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University Offers Free Online Courses to Incoming Freshmen

Indiana State University is using a new tool to enroll first-time freshmen for fall term — a free, online course. Students can take one of two courses, with the first exploring COVID-19 and the second climate change.

by Sue Loughlin, The Tribune-Star / April 30, 2020

(TNS) — Indiana State University is using a new tool to enroll first-time freshmen for fall term — a free, online course.

Students can take one of two courses. The first explores COVID-19, while the other is titled, “Climate Change: Understanding the Causes and Consequences.”

To take the courses, students who have been admitted need to confirm their fall enrollment, which can be completed by paying a $100 deposit or seeking a waiver if they face financial hardship, said Jason Trainer, vice provost for enrollment management.

The four-week courses will transfer to ISU as a one-credit elective toward their four-year degree.

ISU just sent out a second round of registration invitations for the two classes, which will start Monday. Another group of students began an earlier offering of the COVID-19 class April 17.

Trainer anticipates up to 200 prospective ISU students will take advantage of the offer. “The goal of this initiative is to support our fall enrollment goals by engaging students in what Indiana State does best — high quality instruction,” he said.

The COVID-19 course explores the pandemic through several disciplines, including scientific modeling, a broader historical/political context and coming social and economic challenges.

With high school students studying remotely at home and unable to visit campus at the current time, “We thought this is a great way we can engage families on a topic of interest to them,” which also gives students one, free college credit, Trainer said.

Faculty involved in the courses “have stepped up” to design and teach them, he said.

Among those who took advantage of the COVID-19 course that began earlier this month is Ashleigh Johnson of Columbus, Indiana, who studies online through Indiana Digital Learning School.

So far in the ISU course, she’s studied the origins of the coronavirus and learned about other viruses that have passed from animals to humans.

This week the focus is on communication about the virus and how to educate people, keep them safe and target different audiences — such as young people through social media and other groups through radio, newspapers or other media.

“I thought it was an amazing opportunity” to take an ISU class for free and also meet some of the faculty she’ll interact with as an ISU student, Johnson said.

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©2020 The Tribune-Star (Terre Haute, Ind.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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