Published: Dec. 4, 2015

Sometimes the best laid plans go awry. Chase Pennoyer, a senior Environmental Studies major, intended to graduate in spring 2016, but was behind in his coursework by 9 credits. To get back on track, he planned to stay in Boulder over the summer to take a Maymester course and work at the Valmont Bike Park. But as spring classes wrapped up, Chase got a call from his grandparents who urged him—as only loving, persuasive grandparents can do—to return home to Greenfield, New Hampshire to spend the summer with them. How could anyone resist such a request?

Chase changed his summer plans at the last minute and returned home, but he still needed to earn credit towards his degree during Summer Session. An online course search revealed a crowd-source mapping class that appealed to him and satisfied credits towards the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI) certificate that Chase is pursuing in lieu of a minor. He decided to enroll.

The course, taught by Associate Professor Joel Hartter, was the first online course Chase took at CU Boulder. He didn’t know what to expect before classes started in June.

“The class was more rigorous than I thought, but I liked the work,” Chase said. “I think the class really helped my time management skills. I spent a huge chunk of time at the beginning of the class working ahead on assignments and then relaxed a bit and did little amounts every day. It was so nice. I felt like I was able to earn 3 credits and still have my own time.”

Summer Session’s flexible course options gave Chase the opportunity to accomplish several goals. He could spend the summer with his family in New England, complete necessary course work on his own schedule—which gave him time to volunteer full-time at an organic dairy farm—and continue advancing his degree.

“It was a lot more than just an online experience,” Chase said. “It’s funny…I used a computer the whole time, but I don’t remember that. I see the interactions with the teacher and the projects themselves, making maps. The class gave me an interest that will last longer than the college experience. I learned to use different mapping applications that have a ton of real-world significance.”

Chase will use Summer Session 2016 to earn the remaining 6 credits he needs to complete his bachelor’s degree by the end of the summer.