Ah summer time … a time to kick back, enjoy the beach, sleep in and take a class? While the thinking has long been that the months of June and July are when college students decompress and step away from the classroom, summer school courses can be a way to get ahead. Overachiever looking to graduate early? Changed your major and don’t want to fall behind? Just so darn smart your brain can’t take a break? Whatever the reason, find out if summer school is right for you.
As far back as 2010 (the dark ages, right?) year-round school was a growing trend. And not because you flunked a class. Sam Allis wrote on June 22, 2010 for the Boston Globe in “Summer school? That sounds cool.” that more and more college students are going to school year-round. “Enrollment has been inching up in the last decade, as have the number of summer course offerings at many schools,” he wrote.
In addition to wanting to meet new requirements for a different major, or even working on a double major (over-achievers!) Allis finds that summer classes at many schools are cheaper, saving students some valuable dinero. Last but not least, finding that summer job is more challenging than ever, so why not just get a jump on that degree?
Schools chip in
More and more colleges are jumping on the bandwagon, too, encouraging college students to spend summers hitting the books. Mary Beth Marklein wrote March 15, 2013 for USATODAY College in “Colleges try to make summer school more viable” that “colleges also increasingly view summer as a way to help students complete their degrees faster. The most recent Education Department data show four-year graduation rates at 54% for public and 64% at private universities.”
So what should you take if you opt for a summer semester?
1. Huge lecture classes—Want some additional attention? Grab these courses when they won’t be as crowded.
2. Any hard-to-get classes—Does EVERYONE sign up for a particular class and you can never get a spot? See if it is offered during one of the summer sessions when less people are registering.
3. Any outdoor classes—Need a gym requirement? Why not take it when you’ll want to be out enjoying the sunshine anyway? Same goes for science class that may meet outside. Take advantage of the summer to really observe nature!
Run! Run! Run!
Of course, there are also classes to avoid during the short summer semester, and they are:
1. Anything you find hard—If you struggle with economics, don’t take a class that is crammed into half the time. It’s a recipe for disaster, frustration and a bad grade. Difficult concepts take time … you can’t rush genius.
Even professors agree. Dana S. Dunn wrote in “Summer School” for pyschologytoday.com’s blog May 9, 2012 that “the blessing and the curse of summer school is that time is compressed. What would normally take somewhere around 14 or so weeks wherein the members of the class meet two or three times a week takes place in just three weeks.”
So ask yourself if you think you will thrive in the fast-paced action that is a summer school class. If you are only taking one class and can focus, it may be the perfect opportunity for you to work hard and shine. But if you don’t think you can keep up with the pace (an exam after three classes!) and aren’t good coping with lots of material in a short period of time? Then you might want to keep searching for that summer job or volunteer opportunity to boost your future in another way.
Deep thoughts on the summer course experience? Good, bad or indifferent? Know something that will help you get ahead? Tell us in the comments below.