While thousands of Iowa college students will head for tropical islands over Spring Break, a few hundred are making plans for some off-campus R-and-R that’ll also bring them college credit. Doug Lee, a dean in the University of Iowa’s Division of Continuing Education, says they offer 16 classes for academic credit during Spring Break, including a scuba diving course in Florida.

“The scuba diving is popular,” Lee says. “We’ve been doing that for three years now. It’s a great trip for the students who want to get away from the dismal Iowa weather, head south and learn some new scuba diving skills.” Other trips include a backpacking tour of the Grand Canyon, or closer to home, a prairie restoration camping trip to the Loess Hills region of western Iowa. Lee says many U-of-I students are signing up for these alternative Spring Break trips.

“Two-hundred-twenty right now and we’re still climbing,” Lee says. “Most of the classes are filling up or are already full so we’re getting good participation.” While some college students chose to spend the week of March 15th doing little more than working on their tans, Lee says there’s a lot to be said for this sort of educational adventure.

“They do get the benefit of going away, getting off campus and taking a trip,” Lee says, “but along with that come the benefits of earning university credit and advancing towards their degree.” He says it’s also organized by the university, so all of the planning is taken care of for the student, plus, it’s often done less expensively than if they’d tried to plan it themselves. A host of on-campus for-credit courses are also being offered during Spring Break in Iowa City, including: ballroom and salsa dancing, lifeguard training and yoga.