It’s that time of the year. The sun is shining, you’ve donned your sunglasses and the beach calls with its siren song.
However, if you've signed up for summer classes, you may begin to feel that warm weather fun is just a pipe dream.Spending a significant portion of each day in a classroom, lab or library, your summer can seem like a continuation of your September to May routine. Sometimes it’s hard not to adopt the opinion of Joseph Dahlstrom, a senior at NYU: “I’m so stupid for being in summer school,” Dahlstrom said. “Just straight the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.” Laden with 150 pages of reading and an essay a week, Dahlstrom worries that the stress of classes might ruin his dream of a tranquil summer.
Summer classes can feel more challenging and time-consuming since course timelines are often truncated to accommodate the short semester. Furthermore, most universities offer at least two summer sessions, which further abbreviate the length of a course. All of this obliges students to do more work at once.
However, as NYU creative writing professor Matthew Rohrer says, this is not all bad. While Professor Rohrer finds the summer courses he teaches to not allow “a lot of time for reflection,” he also notes that the classroom community is “a little bit tighter, a little more exciting, because this is all [students] are doing.”
There are special benefits to taking summer courses. Jessica Corey from NYU’s history department says that a summer class can be a good way for students to fill requirements they cannot fit in their schedules during the fall or spring. A representative from the Office of Summer Sessions at GWU says that summer courses are a great opportunity to earn credits, try out a new subject or work toward an early graduation or dual degree.
Tips for Summer School Success:
- Plan accordingly. Think of the difference between a course’s structure during the fall or spring and the summer. For example, if you do well in seminars, then it might be smart to take a tough, required lecture course over the summer as classes tend to be smaller.
- Adjust to your surroundings. Most small colleges don’t offer summer classes. Students from small institutions are often forced to do a summer session elsewhere. To do well, it is important to get a feel for the differences between the academics at your college and your host college.
- Be present. Professor Rohrer says that in a summer course, “You can’t really miss any classes.” With the condensed schedule, attendance is even more important than during the school year, as is participation and note-taking.