Survival of The Fittest: How to Survive Summer Semester

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College students look to the summer as a time of R&R after all the stress the school year has to offer. Summer finds students interning, working, studying abroad or on vacation. For the unlucky few, the summer means one thing—summer courses. If you find yourself stuck on campus during the summer, don’t fret. Summer classes don’t have to be that bad if you follow this guide to adjusting your mind and study habits to summer classes.

Use Your Advantages

One of the first keys to being successful in summer school is using your advantages. Instead of looking at summer school as a cruel and unusual punishment, University of Georgia professor Bartosz Wojdynski thinks students should use it as an opportunity. “I think summer school is great, and there are often actually fewer challenges than the regular semester brings. It’s easier to reach a work-life balance than during the stress of the regular semester,” Wojdynski said. Summer classes typically meet daily for longer-than-usual class periods and feature smaller class sizes.

Take advantage of the fact that there aren’t 100 students raising their hands in the air and asking questions. You can actually get your questions answered in the smaller environment. The fact that you see the material every day can be an advantage too. Be sure to read over the material every day if only for a few minutes. This will help with information retention and will help you perform better on tests.

Understand the Disadvantages

In any competition, battle or struggle (the summer semester struggle is real), it’s just as important for you to know and understand your own weaknesses just as much as your strengths. When dealing with summer classes, your main disadvantage involves having to learn so much material in a short amount of time. University of Georgia career center specialist Samantha Meyer said, “Students who take summer classes should be ready to work hard and to, most importantly, stay focused in order to be successful.” Once you understand the workload and style of the class, you must figure out study tips, scheduling and routines that work for you to successfully navigate the course.

Closing Tips

Now that you understand the advantages and disadvantages brought about by your vicious opponent (aka summer school), you can use these tips to develop a gameplan for success.

1. Make Things Personal

To be successful you must find your own strategies that fit your unique personality. “Figure out what time of day you do your best work and try to do all of it then, and let yourself off the hook the rest of the time,” Wodjynski said. Don’t be discouraged if a strategy doesn’t work for you. Remember, not everything works for everyone.

2. Find Balance

Make sure you don’t give yourself too big of a load. “I know students who have taken 3 courses at a time which can be up to 6-7 hours a day which can be a lot. Don’t bite off more than you can chew,” said University of Georgia senior Robert Morgan. Finding balance will make your life much easier during the summer.

3. Stay On Top of the Material

It’s very easy to get distracted during summer school. Even if you stay on top of things on Monday through Wednesday, as the weekend approaches some students find themselves not upholding the study habits they maintained throughout the week. Don’t be this student. The more you stay on top of your work, the easier you’ll have it going forward throughout the course.

4. Relax A Little

All work and no play is unhealthy for anyone, and it doesn’t really work. Remember, this is still the summer. Give yourself some time to yourself. “Studying is important, but I would also suggest students take the opportunity to explore their campus and the city where their college or university is located,” said Meyer. Summer school doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Work hard, but give yourself room to enjoy your summer as well.

5. Make Adjustments

Figure out what works for you. Some of the things that worked for you during the school year may not work in the summer due to different instructors, teaching styles and course load. “I attribute my success to being able to make the adjustments. I’ve always been more of a crammer, but with summer classes I just forced myself to stay on top of the material because I was looking at the material every day,” Morgan said. Making adjustments is the ultimate key to success in summer classes. The student who can make the necessary adjustments that summer requires will come out on top.

Andrew is a fourth year Journalism major and Communication Studies minor at the University of Georgia. He is passionate about sports, music, TV, and film.

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