diving

The water’s fine

Taking the summer-course plunge? Refresh yourself with the cool encouragement and success tips below!

Advantages of summer courses are numerous:

*Summer courses can be huge helpers in scheduling your degree – for instance, if you take a prerequisite course now, you may be able to take a certain course as early as next term.

*Some students like the academic continuity summer courses offer; in other words, they like to stay “fresh” in the subject, and summer courses allow them to keep working.

*In the traditional semester system, another attraction is that summer courses are typically short courses, perhaps meeting only six or eight (as opposed to 15-16) weeks. At the end of the short course, you will have earned full credit in about half the time.

But you’ll want to ponder these preparation pointers:          

Of course, the time aspect also means a summer course is particularly challenging, and not for the academically squeamish! If you’re ready to dive in, heed the following:

1. Clear your schedule; prioritize!

First, consider your life’s goings-on outside the classroom. I’ve taught students who must work alongside students for whom a summer job wasn’t as critical; as a college student myself, I worked part-time on campus while I was enrolled in a summer class.

Individuals have different life circumstances, but a short course offers a constant: it will be time-intensive, and most likely will require a re-prioritization and sacrifice of other non-academic activities.

2. Count on spending ample time on your course.

If your course is half as long as a traditional semester course, it follows that you will need to devote twice the time to the class on a weekly basis. If the class is three credit hours, you’ll spend about 10 study hours a week during a normal semester; for a short course, plan on about 20 hours a week.*

(In other words, one summer course is a part-time job.)

3. Don’t miss anything.

Attend every class, and while there, take good notes. Ask the prof when you have questions. If you’re taking the course online, log in every weekday, and stay active. It should go without saying that you do all the work ASAP, as well – you’ve no time to procrastinate!

4. Have a positive attitude.

Summer courses are intense, but scores of students complete them successfully each year. It’s extremely possible to enjoy the intensity; just make sure you hit the water with plenty of scheduled time and determination.

*For time management tips, see here.

Image via mrg.bz / mxruben

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