After high school the stigma of summer school loses its sting. It’s no longer a punishment for missteps taken during the previous academic year. In college & graduate school, if used strategically, summer courses can be a gift. They can be an opportunity to remedy bad grades & GPAs. They can ease course loads in subsequent semesters, and even prepare one for graduate school or to graduate early. However, it is important to remember that summer courses are not typically structured like the courses that you take during fall and spring academic semesters. These courses are shorter and much more strenuous. Many students enroll in summer classes unaware of how challenging they can be. As a result they struggle through the summer sessions and may even withdraw or fail out of their classes. And, ain't nobody got time FAH DAT! (Sweet, Brown, 2012) I’ve been there and now I’m here to share the five things that I wish someone would have told me about summer classes before I signed up for the worst 6 weeks of my life a few summers ago.
- Environmentally Sanctioned Cramming- Summer school is in fact, environmentally sanctioned cramming. The average summer session lasts between 4-6 weeks. Most fall and spring semesters are typically three to four times longer than that. During the summer, your professor crams 16 weeks of content and credit hours into a very small block of time. Course concepts and ideas will be thrown at you at lightening speed with little to no elucidation. In other words, your professor may or may not have time to walk you through the subject matter to ensure that you really understand the course material before tests/papers. Be strategic in selecting your summer courses and try taking summer classes in subjects that you are familiar with; where you feel that you can grasp and retain the information easily.
- Long Hours - Most summer courses typically meet a minimum of 3 to 4 hours each class session. This is particularly painful as summer days are longer and nicer. While your friends are on the beach you will be in a classroom. It sucks but try to remember that this necessary inconvenience is just temporary. Try your best to stay focused on your course readings and assignments and it will be over before you know it.
- Quick Turn Around on Assignments- Because the pace of summer courses is accelerated, you will find that assignment due dates are much more frequent than you’re probably accustomed to. Consider this a warning, you will have to balance large reading assignments, homework, papers and exams. When you receive your syllabus on the first day of class read it thoroughly and familiarize yourself with the course requirements right away. Be prepared to devote quite a bit of time outside of class to your assignments and organize yourself to meet your deadlines and due dates.
- Don’t Miss Class- Remember, missing a day in summer school is like missing a week of class during the fall or spring semester. Keeping up with your readings and assignments is challenging enough, falling behind can really make it tough to stay a float. Try your best to make every session and if you must miss class do all that you can access class time. Ask a classmate record the lecture or ask your professor to be skyped in to listen to class discussion remotely.
- Financial Aid- Last but certainly not least, please don’t forget that your summer courses are not free. Most financial aid offices package students for the classes taken during the fall and spring semesters only. If you know that you are going to be taking summer courses when filing your FAFSA, signing your award letters, etc., please be sure to inform your financial aid officer. He/she can work with you in finding/securing the funding that you’ll need to pay for your summer courses.
I hope this is helps. If you have any questions you know how to reach me.
Till Next Time,