Summer is approaching, which means sandy beaches, bathing suits and … textbooks. The Jersey Shore is set to be more than a vacation destination this summer.
For the first time, Rutgers University is offering summer classes at the beach, called RU at the Shore.
Instead of paperback novels, Rutgers students might be bringing textbooks as their beach reading. The university will host 17 new undergraduate courses in Atlantic City, Cape May and Point Pleasant Beach.
Rutgers Summer Session director Elizabeth Beasley says the school extended its courses to the coastline after nearly a third of students surveyed said they would take a class for credit at the Shore.
“Increasingly over the years, we find that students work at least part time in the school year,” she said. “That means that it’s hard to take a full load every semester. So for a lot of folks, summer or winter session courses are really important to take in order to complete their degree.”
She said she was surprised that most of the students interested don’t live at the Shore all summer long.
The classes are geared toward current Rutgers students, but open to anyone interested, including high-schoolers.
The university’s decision to expand summer offerings was also spurred by Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian reaching out and asking for a bigger Rutgers presence.
The hybrid courses are four weeks long with classroom and online instruction. Offerings include business, oceanography, journalism, as well as a weeklong visual arts class in Avalon.
Rutgers history professor Norman Markowitz, who has taught at the university for more than 40 years, will teach a U.S. history course at Point Pleasant Beach.
“I think it’s an interesting idea in terms of involving more students who live in the area, particularly against traveling to New Brunswick, Camden or Newark,” he said of the coastline offerings.
He says he’s never taught a course that relies two-thirds on online instruction. He’s going to use YouTube, films and audio clips as part of that.
“I’ve designed it, and I hope it works. That’s what I can say. I think it is an interesting and challenging approach,” he said. “I think it will be effective.”
Several American Studies courses take advantage of the seaside location, including one that looks at the history of the Jersey Shore and another that uses “Boardwalk Empire,” the book the HBO television series was based on, as a textbook to discuss Atlantic City.
The most popular courses so far are: Writing for Business, Intro to Oceanography and Intro to Managerial Accounting.
Beasley is not concerned about a beach bum attitude from students at the Shore.
“In the summer on campus, people quickly learn, if anything, it’s more intense,” she said. “These are very focused people.”
She hopes the additional locations will allow Rutgers to reach more students.
The RU at the Shore offerings start June 22. More information is available at summer.rutgers.edu/RUshore.