Sit by the pool or in a hot classroom?

Suzi Starheim

Summer courses help students get ahead

With spring break over and final projects on many students’ minds, the last thing they’re thinking about is sitting in a classroom during the summer months. But it might be worth the time to explore summer course options.

Daniel DelloStritto, junior integrated life sciences major, said he took summer courses and will be taking them again this summer.

DelloStritto said while this is his first full year in college, he is currently a junior because of the amount of credit hours he carries each semester in addition to the courses he fulfills over the summer. This summer, he will be taking 16 credit hours, consisting of three sociology courses, a genetics course and a physics course.

“Taking the summer classes helps you focus more during the year for your major classes and not having to deal with your LERs,” DelloStritto said. “For me, I get bogged down a lot with my LERs in addition to my science courses.”

DelloStritto said while his summer courses are much faster-paced than his normal 15-week fall or spring courses, he feels they help him take on a lot more when it comes time to transition into the fall semester.

“You learn to adapt to the pace of the class,” DelloStritto said. “You learn to read what you have to read. You learn to skim what you have to skim.”

DelloStritto said he will graduate nearly two years in advance because of the summer courses he has taken.

Accounting lecturer Donald McFall said summer classes help many students stay on track for graduation or get ahead, which are good reasons to consider taking the classes.

McFall, who has taught Financial Accounting for the past nine years, said he often recommends his accounting course to students during the summer because it is a smaller class size and students can be more focused.

“Because of the reduced class sizes and increased pace, my students seem much more engaged in the summer,” McFall said. “They participate more in classroom discussions, and attendance is much better.”

McFall said his normal class sections in the fall and spring can range between 150 and 200 students, while his average summer section is no more than 40 students.

Charity Snyder, director of advising and licensure in the College of Education, Health and Human Services, said while she feels summer courses are individual choices based on each student’s situation, taking the courses while on track with the student’s program can easily help him or her graduate early.

“Some students can and want to take summer courses to expedite their path through the program,” Snyder said. “Other students may need to work in the summer and are not able to take courses. I believe this is a very individual decision based on a student’s circumstances.”

Snyder said her office discusses summer classes with students for a variety of reasons.

“It may be that a student wants to complete their program sooner, they may take a summer course to get back on track with sequencing in their program or they may want to reduce the number of hours they are taking in the fall and/or spring,” she said.

Snyder said no matter what semester a student is registering for classes, the process is the same. The only difference is that when registration opens for summer courses, it is not broken down by class level but instead is open to all students.

Also, tuition plays a minor role. Summer credit hour prices are comparative to the fall and spring until you get to 11 credit hours. During the fall and spring, a cap is placed after 11, and the student pays $4,215 no matter if he or she is taking 12 credit hours or 19. In the summer, there is no cap and the price continues to rise. Eleven hours in the summer cost $4,224, 12 hours cost $4,608, and it continues to increase from there. Otherwise, tuition in the summer is the same as a full 15-week semester.

McFall said he cautions students that the content in the summer course is the same as during the normal term, so it can be overwhelming for those students who are not committed and able to prioritize their time. His summer sections are taught in five weeks with the same content requirements as he teaches in a 15-week term. He said experience tells him that many students sign up for two or more five week classes at one time while trying to maintain summer jobs and active personal lives.

“Summer classes can vary significantly from the regular term and, therefore, present risks that should be considered before enrolling,” McFall said. “Students should seriously consider their motivation for summer studies and evaluate their time commitment.”

Contact features correspondent Suzanne Starheim at [email protected].