Initially, I had no idea what to expect at a university. My first year of college was great. It was completely different than what I’d imagined it to be. I told myself going into the first year that I wanted to transfer, but after a year under my belt, I knew I wanted to stay all 4 years.
This motivated me to work hard and make sure I would continue to stay productive the next 4 years. I took this mindset into the Summer, I knew I would be home from June to August..but I couldn’t be lazy. I wanted to make some money with a part time job, or take a class. I ended up doing both that year. I met up with my Academic Advisor at NYU and persuaded them to let me transfer credits over from a small state school back home.
I took Calculus over the summer in a nearby State School. The class had to move very quickly since it was covering an entire semester worth of material down into 4 weeks. Here are some notes I wish I would’ve known before I took my Summer Class:
First of All: Find out THE REAL REASON why you want to take a Summer Class
Is it because you’re used to being told what to do? Are the rest of your friends doing it as well? Do you not have anything else going on so you need something to kill the time? These are all weak reasons to take a Summer Class. I knew deep down that I wanted to stay busy over Summer, but busy work doesn’t always translate to progress. If you can, try to test out of a class or core requirement during the school year. I encourage you to go ahead and go for it. It’ll save you invaluable time and money.
If you absolutely need to take a class because you’re behind on credits, then go ahead and take it. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to stay busy “just because.” One of my friends had to stay in NYC over the summer because some of his transfer credits didn’t fit with the University. In this case, he had to take summer classes so he would graduate on time.
A large part of your free time will disappear
For my experience, it was all of my free time. I would have to take the time to commute 45 minutes away from home to get to the classroom, and then sit in a 3 and a half hour class. After class I would drive back home, and maybe hit some traffic (and yell at traffic) along the way. When I got home and found the rare time slot to run or eat, I would have to immediately work on homework. The material is rushed and condensed into a short period of time; you spend a larger part of time on homework to make up for the material in a summer class. I had zero time to waste.
You’ll likely feel rushed just to stay on top of all your work. During the school year, the semester is spread out over the course of 3 months. Summer classes usually eat up all of that time into 1 really fast month. I found myself stressing over the homework and racing the clock every single day for those 4 weeks. I was beyond frustrated, not because of the coursework material, but because of the time schedule. The syllabus controlled a large part of my time. I didn’t have space to:
- Focus on any reading I wanted to finish
- Go out and travel
- Dedicate time for a blog (this one)
- Take a break from the regular school year/reconnect with family/friends
The summer is also the perfect time for an internship. This is an opportunity for students to take their classroom knowledge and apply it to the real world. I simply didn’t have any time for that when I was in my Summer Class. I couldn’t learn outside the classroom and apply my knowledge since I was stuck in the classroom for the summer. I hardly got a break from the previous school year.
In retrospect, I believe Summer Classes do offer you a chance to get ahead on credits or stay productive when you’re out of school. You could prep yourself for a study abroad the next semester to learn a new language, or review material for the upcoming year. It’s important to know that a large part of your free time however, will be gone.
If you choose to enroll in Summer Classes: “just because everyone else is doing it,” you might regret that decision.