Summer is the time to unwind and relax after overwhelming semesters. You get almost four months off before you have to worry about going to classes and the all night homework cram sessions. Unfortunately, summer isn’t this way for every college student. Whether you’ve already been in college or it’s going to be your first year in the fall–summer classes are something to think about for the future.
Summer classes have their benefits and of course their draw backs. Not many students like the idea of having classes during what is supposed to be a break filled with hot days and fun times. It is a whole semester crammed into a short few week section so everything goes at a faster pace. But no fear, there is good to this all! If you’re ever thinking about taking summer courses or you’re about to start them, here are some tips for rookies or veteran summer course takers to start your semester right or to keep in mind for next summer!
1. Reviewing the syllabus
Just like any other semester, looking over the syllabus is a must before diving into your classes. It allows you to know what is expected of you and you can get a feel of when things will be due or any big test days. Things will move quickly since it isn’t a full semester. Plan ahead and take the time to map a schedule out of due dates and when you should work on the homework. This especially helps if you are taking more than one class or are working during the summer. It also allows you to make time for the better things in summer! You do not want to get behind in a summer course since it is so fast paced and reading the syllabus will save you from any surprises in the class or those due dates sneaking up too quickly.
2. Be prepared to spend a lot of time on the class
The professor will cut out parts of the course since there is a time constraint and will only focus on the most important aspects. This sounds like a great things since you don’t have to as much work compared to if you took it in the normal school year, but beware! Since it is a class focused on the most important lessons it will become more difficult and assignments will be due closer together. If you’re taking the class on campus tests may also be involved. Most classes are only 4 days a week (even online classes) but pack a lot into those four days. The days are longer and homework could be due every day. You are, or will be, used to classes typically being every other day.
This is my first time taking a summer course and I have never had so much work every day even though it’s online. If you are prepared to spend the right amount of time on the class you’ll be fine. Like I said above, plan ahead to know you’ll a lot of time each day to do the work and go to the class! Personally, with having the online class I like to do the work at the same time everyday like if I was going to campus to be in class. Even with on campus classes, it is nice to make time daily to stay on course with the homework and studying. It doesn’t necessarily have to be at the same time everyday since we all have busy schedules or things to do, but make sure you take the correct amount of time each day to focus on your summer classes. Make sure you do not have too many classes or too many difficult classes since they will be using up a lot of your time.
3. Learn the professor’s expectations
Many professors will have the exact same expectations for the students as they do during the year. Even though no one really wants to be in class during the summer, they still will want you to work hard. Summer is meant for sleeping in but you’ll still have to make it on time for class with your homework done. Summer classes still count towards your accumulative GPA so you don’t want to blow off your classes and homework. Attendance is also a big thing to keep in mind before starting your classes.
The classes are a little longer to make up for the time crunch and it will be difficult to keep up after missing a class. There also is a lot of information that is offered during the class meeting times that can be hard to learn if you miss. You should try not to have any summer events during the time of your classes. Just like during the normal school year your professors will have an attendance policy and you should get familiar with it so you don’t miss anything.
4. Talk to your professor the first day
It is important to talk to your professor as soon as you can since it is such a fast paced semester. See if they have any advice or tips to do well in the class. You don’t have much time to figure out if you’re not getting a great grade and try to bring it up. If the fast pace seems intimidating for you this is a the time to ask about on campus resources or tutors. This will allow you to plan when to go to the learning centers before it is too late.
You won’t need as much help from your professor and can add it into the schedule you’ve already planned out for the semester. If you talk to the professor on the first day it will be easier to talk to them in the future if you do need help from them. This is also when to ask about their summer office hours since they typically won’t be on campus as much as during the academic year.
5. Stay positive!
It may be tempting to not take summer courses or drop them once it gets a little overwhelming. If you put the time, energy and work into your summer classes it will be worth it! Summer classes will benefit you down the road, so talk to your adviser to see if a class that may be difficult for you is offered in the summer so you don’t have to worry about cramming it into your already busy class schedule. When times get tough think about the benefit of what you’re doing. There is a lot of work involved but don’t forget to plan those summer activities! It’ll help give you a break from the fast pace week and you don’t want to have your summer gone too quickly without having fun. And just think, you’ll have the rest of the summer to relax if you’re only taking classes at the beginning of the summer since they are only a few weeks long. It will feel great in the end knowing you did that much work in such a short time period and the benefits will be worth it.
Summer courses can seem seem intense, but take these tips to make it easier. These tips are also great to use any time throughout the year and not just during those sunny days. Coming into college can be just as tough as taking a fast paced summer class since you’re not used to how things run yet. These tips will definitely help you stay on track your first semester while also help relieve the stress!