Summer college courses can help you fill in the gaps

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By Jonathan Lopes

Campus News

Colleges and universities offer summer courses as a method to provide year round schooling, allow students to continue their studies and as a source of revenue. Students can enroll in classes for credit and as an approach to impact their grade point average, along with their transcript. Summer courses are usually not covered by traditional financial aid. In other words, students tend to pay for summer courses through their own pocket, their parental guardians and/or the use of a scholarship. Now then, summer courses are most popularly offered in remediation or advancement level. For instance, typical classes consist of developmental Math and English as well as the upper level courses within said subjects.

Anything from philosophy to biology are also available, but not the same amount as compared to the fall and spring semesters. Many colleges and universities also offer short-term summer courses to attract both individuals within the community and international students. The programs are often social activities and continuing studies based, including English as a second language, summer youth camps and certification seminars. This is the time frame in which children and young adolescents as well as professionals take part in college and university services.

Students take part in summer courses for various reasons. It can serve as a good time to make up credits lost through past failure, funding and/or timing of offered course. Furthermore, the summer courses can be used as a method to work ahead if one wants to potentially graduate early or if one was placed in a development course. Development courses do not count as credit but may be needed, in order to enroll within college credit courses.  In other words, it is a way to obtain credit for classes to progress toward a degree or to reduce the workload of courses during the standard school year. Full-time students usually enroll in 12-15 credits per semester, consisting of 4-5 classes.  Enrolling within summer courses allows one the chance to stay on the two-year track for community college and the eventual four-year track.

“I never took summer classes. I didn’t have to; I knew I could graduate in four years without it. Bringing in Advanced Placement (AP) credits from high school helped. It helped me balance college, classes during fall/spring and work during the summer,” said Rachel Stengel, Rider University graduating senior.

However, summer courses can be tricky. Traditional college courses, fall/spring, are four months in length. Summer sessions tend to be anywhere from 6-9 weeks. The courses operate at a much faster pace and meet more frequently. For instance, a typical summer class meets 3-4 times a week for about 2 hours throughout the 6-9 week session. Now then, fall/spring classes meet once a week for 3 hours for 4 months or twice a week for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Also, summer courses have faster approaching deadlines to be aware of if one is to enroll and/or withdraw. This is vital, especially if one wants to avoid a “withdrawal” on their transcripts or a possibly refund.

As an individual who has enrolled within summer courses at both a two-year and four-year college and with past experience within admissions, I would not encourage students to enroll within a summer course if he or she struggles with the subject or has no prior knowledge of it. I have taken courses for which I possessed skills and prior experience as well as those which I needed more advanced training, in order to stay on track. It is an eye opening experience. It can be intimidating and a bit overwhelming, but there are resources that can help. As a former admissions intern and recruiter, I have interacted with students who took full advantage of the summer option and were well aware of the different atmosphere, along with those who were naïve and blindly enrolled.

For example, I utilized Raritan Valley Community College’s academic support center for tutoring within math. Not only did I struggle with the course, but I needed it to graduate in time. The tutoring centers, as well as a few classmates, were supportive and influential in my success. These are sources of assistance to use to counteract the difficulty and change of pace within summer courses. It may not be as simple or easy in terms of pace and workload, but is beneficial because students interact with the professor and their classmates on a more frequent basis.

If you are interested in summer courses, meet with an academic adviser to discuss your degree evaluation and to assess what options are available and a best fit for you. Summer courses are an important concept, one that can really assist students, but should not be taken lightly.

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