If you're planning on taking a summer class at Southern Oregon University, you'd better sign up now — space is filling up fast.

If you're planning on taking a summer class at Southern Oregon University, you'd better sign up now — space is filling up fast.

"If there's a course you need to take, you really need to sign up quick," said Jim Beaver, director of Interactive Marketing and Media Relations at SOU. "If it's the one you need, it's very important to get on it."

SOU has seen a 23 percent increase in summer enrollment over last year, thanks in part to more summer courses, Beaver said. Many of the classes already have reached capacity.

"There are some programs that are being offered this year that weren't offered last summer," said Beaver. "(There are) more online classes in the School of Business, there are new communication courses offered by the Communication Department, and there's also a new Gender Studies series."

One of the new offerings is Communications 441, which looks at the impact of social media and other communication technology on the recent revolutions in the Arab world.

"We have this very fascinating situation going on right now," said Jody Waters, instructor and chairwoman of the Communication Department. "We'll start off looking at some theories, then go into case studies like Libya.

"In an increasingly interconnected world, it's almost impossible to ignore the impact of various technologies," she said. "This course in particular offers this great living, learning laboratory for examining these issues."

Waters attributes the increase in summer enrollment to better marketing strategies by the university, and the support of the administration for funding more summer classes.

"We have a lot of courses being offered by our department this summer," she said. "I think we're doing a better job, in our department, of marketing these summer classes."

Beaver said the university has become better at marketing its strengths to prospective students.

"We have our own unique characteristics," said Beaver. "We try to find an alignment between what we offer and what students want.

"The benefit of a liberal arts education is that you are prepared for a job that hasn't been invented yet," he said. "We see ourselves as the public liberal arts university of the west."

Nils Holst is a freelance writer and Southern Oregon University student living in Ashland. Reach him at holstn@students.sou.edu.