CANTON — As SUNY Canton expands its on-campus bachelor's degree offerings, the college has also seen an explosion of growth beyond its borders via online courses.
College President Joseph L. Kennedy said the success of SUNY Canton OnLine is good news, no matter how you look at it.
"Most of these are not our regular students; they're students from somewhere else. I think from a business sense it's just very good to have these students paying me to catch up somewhere else," Mr. Kennedy said. "They're doing it to try to stay ahead of the curve. Some are using it to get back into school; others are just using it for something to do in the summer."
SUNY Canton's Summer Session, which is mostly Web-based, has exceeded enrollment expectations again this year. The number of students registering to take courses during the summer has more than doubled since 2007.
"In the summer we have to do all the things we're not able to do when the students are here, like painting and cleaning up, so the online courses don't interfere with any of that," Mr. Kennedy said.
As of Thursday, the college had registered 967 students in two rounds of Summer Session courses. Registration is still open for the third and final session of the summer, and college officials anticipate having more than 1,000 students sign up in all.
"We are increasingly trying to use the campus all 12 months of the year. Part of that is trying to generate as much revenue as we can. And that's not a bad thing, because when you think about it, this is your college because your taxpayer dollars pay for it," Mr. Kennedy said. "So I think there's almost an obligation for us to use the facilities year-round."
The college also offers a one-month Winter term during its holiday break.
SUNY Canton soon will welcome a variety of nontraditional students to its campus for seasonal programs. Upward Bound, a residential summer program aimed at helping low-income and potential first-generation college students complete high school and graduate from college, will move onto campus starting this week.
In addition, the college will welcome 95 international students July 5. The students take SUNY Canton OnLine courses and come for an American on-campus experience.
Mr. Kennedy said half of the visiting students are coming from Russia, while about 30 will hail from Bosnia and the rest will come from China.
"They're from our growing international programs, where they take our courses in their home countries and come here for the English-speaking experience," Mr. Kennedy said. "We are, internationally, running up against more demand than we can actually meet right off the bat."
The college is working to increase its ties with higher education institutions in Ukraine and other countries with developing economies, Mr. Kennedy said.
"From their point of view, I would hope they would say that we're good partners because we're user-friendly," he said. "From our perspective — and this may sound almost too soft-headed — we're pleased to be educating the people who are going to be the next generation of leadership in these countries."
SUNY Canton also will break ground soon on a much-needed residence hall. The dormitory will house 240 students in apartment-style clusters.
The building is designed to meet growing demand for on-campus living.
In recent years the college has reached out to area landlords to help house overflow students. But SUNY Canton also hopes to house its increasing numbers of international students each summer, the president said.
Mr. Kennedy said he hopes to have the residence hall open by fall 2010.