As the semester comes to an end, many students are considering whether they should take summer classes to get ahead on their degree plans. There are many pros and cons when it comes to these summer courses.
Catherine Nutter, senior director of university advising, said summer classes are a great way to allow students to move forward.
“If a student is really bound and determined to graduate in four years, summer classes are a good way to get the hours they need ahead of time,” she said. “It helps students better balance the fall and spring semesters.”
Being able to move forward without the overload of extracurriculars and classes in the long term is the main benefit of summer classes, Nutter said. If a student has not done well in a class and needs a grade replaced, summer can be a good time to do it because it allows more focus on the class.
The biggest concern about summer classes, Nutter said, is the new academic policy the school has put in place in which students can be suspended after summer if they have been on academic warning and probation during the fall and spring semesters.
Summer classes have proven to be mostly beneficial to students in the past, because they have been able to handle the fast pace and heavy workload, Nutter said. Her main advice to students is to not procrastinate and to meet with advisers before moving forward.
“Focus. Please focus – that summer class has to be your primary responsibility,” she said. “And go see your adviser, that’s the most important thing. They know what’s best for you.”
Maggie Jacobs, a sophomore nutrition and dietetics major from Lubbock, said she took a chemistry class last summer but had to drop out due to medical reasons. However, she said she wished she could have stayed and completed the class, because it would have helped her move forward in school.
“I was taking summer school to relieve some of my workload for the upcoming year and to get a more difficult course out of the way,” Jacobs said. “It just wasn’t for me during that season of life.”
Some of the pros of summer classes include the quickness, cheapness and ease of accessibility, Jacobs said. It is also easier to find people to study with, because the lectures are not as big and students have a more one-on-one relationship with professors.
However, some cons include a lack of flexibility and a high workload, as well as having a limited time to bring grades up if a one is not doing well. Jacobs said her biggest con was the lack of a strong professor teaching her course.
“He was extremely intelligent but struggled to communicate the material in a way that his class could understand,” she said. “Bad professors can make (summer classes) miserable.”
Altogether Jacobs said summer classes are a good idea if the student has the time and willingness to commit, but it is not for everybody.
“Some classes are better to take during the semester, and some are better taken over the summer,” Jacobs said. “That really comes down to how each individual specifically learns.”
Lisa Low, a professor of public relations in the College of Media and Communication, said she chooses to have her classes available during the summer, not only because she enjoys teaching them, but also because she gets to focus on a smaller group of students.
“You get to know each other in a way that’s different than you would get to in a normal 16-week semester,” she said.
Some benefits of summer courses, Low said, include being able to become fully immersed in the course rather than being distracted by other classes. They also help keep students on track and keeps Low in “the groove “of teaching, she said.
While the courses are fun, they are also a lot of work, and Low said she has seen students who are unable or unwilling to put in the time to get the work done. It is hard to successfully crunch 16 weeks of a class into five weeks, but Low said she tries her best to communicate this ahead of time.
“We can’t just say we’ll only cover half of the topics because the semester is shorter, that’s just not the way it works,” she said. “The perception is that summer courses are easier, but they are not.”