By Laura LaVacca
With summer looming in the distance, the temptation to go to the beach seems much more appealing than taking summer courses. But upon further look, is it an option that should be dismissed so quickly?
Oftentimes, taking summer classes gives a real leg up on obtaining a degree quicker or even means the difference between graduating on time or not. Many students have to take an extra class at some point and instead of tacking it on to an already overwhelming 15 credit class load, the lazy days of summer may be a great time to just focus on one course – perhaps even the toughest one.
“This summer I am taking a Global Media course because I heard it is really hard, and that way I can focus on just the coursework for it. Next year, I plan on doing my thesis because having to write a 40 page paper while taking five other courses just seems like too much!” Adelphi Student, Stacie Sau states.
SUNY College professor Jennifer Sherman notes, “Summer classes can be a great idea for students to learn responsibility. There are no summer breaks in the real world.”
Students need to keep in mind that summer sessions are condensed courses that are given over a short 3 to 8 week period of time. Fall and spring semester courses are about 15 weeks in length. This can prove to be a quick way to get new material under students’ belts or a recipe for disaster. Very difficult courses can be hard to grasp in such a short time but conversely, the intense focus on a subject matter can prove to be a great way to engulf oneself in a subject and retain the material. It can also prove to be a way to fall behind since the classes are quickly paced and professors often move on to the next lesson without giving ample time to the previous.
“Be committed because it is academically challenging and potentially overwhelming. Assess what course it is because coming from a developmental or remedial course to a higher level can be a big mistake. It really depends on the student,” St John’s Professor Theresa Collins explains, “You can fall behind quickly.”
Students should weigh their own study habits, academic abilities and choose summer classes wisely. Consider subject matter, time frame and difficulty of the course.
Internships that need to be completed may be great to do over the summer when the focus can be on interning and not split with the other responsibilities of course loads.
In addition, there are other factors to consider like financial aid.
“I actually can’t take summer courses because of financial reasons,” NCC student Alex Rodrigo states, “Kind of stinks.”
Most institutions do not offer financial aid or loans for summer classes unless the student is enrolled in a certain number of classes, usually full-time status. Students are left paying out of pocket to complete classes or turning to a bank for a loan. Interest rates on bank loans can be astronomical and paying cold hard cash for credits is difficult when some schools like Hofstra University charge upwards of a $1000 per credit.
Hofstra also has a policy in place that prevents students from taking cheaper classes elsewhere: “Students may obtain credit on their Hofstra records for courses taken in the summer session at another accredited institution if the other institution is not within reasonable commuting distance of Hofstra and if the courses have been approved in advance.”
Students need to research school’s policies such as these to prevent the loss of money and even time. In an age where pinching pennies seems to be more important than ever, unfair policies like Hofstra’s can be the deciding factor of whether to register for a summer session or not.
There are ample opportunities all over the island and in the tri-state area to take any course students may desire. Students should double check degree requirements and verify that there aren’t any courses that only run over the summer that they may need to satisfy a requirement. College financial aid offices and advisement can answer any questions that prospective students may have.