Okay, so last semester was rough! Let’s face it- 2020 has been ROUGH, but you made it through. Now if you’re like many students across the world, you’ve just completed the first week of summer school. This post is for those of you who a) have never experienced collegiate summer school or b) have never made it through summer school successfully. Honestly, it takes a couple of tries to fully understand the daunting task of . . . SUMMER SCHOOL. So, this post is dedicated to you.
First, you’ve got to understand what summer school really is. It’s an entire semester ramped up highest level that you can imagine. Seriously! Most schools have two options for summer sessions: 1) two 5-week terms with a short break in the middle and a short break right before the traditional school year begins, and 2) a 10-week term stretching across the summer months. Either way, summer school is taking a regular 14 week semester long class and squeezing it into 5 or 10 weeks. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that one option is better than the other. It’s not, and both require careful planning in order to make it through in one piece.
Second, you’ve got to understand the difference between the two types of sessions. The five week session feels more tense because it is literally a semester condensed into five weeks. Whether the class is face-to-face or online (or hybrid), the days are long, the assignments feel even longer, and you sort of feel as though you’re holding your breath for 35 days. I say 35 days because summer school does not understand the concept of weekends. Every day is a workday and rightfully so. In order to truly learn the same amount of information you’d absorb in a traditional semester, you basically have to study every day for 5 weeks.
Now, the 10-week session is a different beast. Many students confuse themselves into thinking that the 10-week session is easier, and in some ways, it feels as though it is. Instead of a semester being shortened by nine weeks, it’s only shortened by about four weeks. But that’s where people mess up and all of the sudden the end of the 10 weeks shows up. In essence, the end creeps up on you because of “interruptions” in the middle. For example, for most adult students, they are also playing the role of parent. So, two weeks into the 10-week summer session, K-12 schools end. That means that parents are handling end of school class parties, some are doing graduations, end of year parent/teacher conferences, and then signing kids up for summer camps. In a 5-week summer session, student/parents are usually on their game because time is of the essence and everything is carefully planned. However, in a 10-week session, they feel as if they have time so that week of end of school events usually becomes a week where less work is done in summer school. Right there is one week where a student may miss schoolwork.
Then a few weeks later, another event comes: 4th of July. Someone is having a cookout somewhere and you and your family are going! It’s a holiday and you should be with others. But, that does not mean that school has stopped for that day. Believe it or not, some professors (especially if they are teaching an online class), do not ease up on the schoolwork simply because of a summer holiday. However, many students do ease up on their assignments around this time. Be careful not to fall into this trap and experience the pressure of being behind in your class.
Next comes the vacation trip. Whether you are going somewhere by yourself, with friends, with your family, or whether you are having a staycation and not working, there is always a week where students do not do any schoolwork. However, just like July 4th, your professors don’t care so much that you need a vacation. If their class is in session, then it is your responsibility to complete the work and submit it on time. Then, in about 3-4 more weeks, the 10-week session will be over. Now, if you did not plan your weeks wisely, what do you think is happening towards the end? You guessed it – pure panic mode! That’s why, regardless of whether you are taking a 5-week or a 10-week summer school session, it’s important to think about the following things:
Plan out your summer school schedule week by week: Just as you did during the traditional school year, write down assignment due dates, major project due dates, your work schedule, and summer camp schedules (if you have children). The summertime is incredibly tempting. You’ll want to be outside, be at the pool, or just lie around. Having a schedule will keep you on track.
Plan your vacation: It’s important for everyone to have some time to themselves. No work whatsoever. Therefore, plan your vacation time. If it takes place during a summer session, make sure to complete any work that is due during the week of your vacation EARLY. Do not ask to complete it after your vacation. There’s a reason you are given a syllabus; it’s to know what is happening in the future. If you are scheduled to be on vacation the week a major paper is due, get that paper done before you leave and turn it in.
Arrange for emergencies (and pop ups): Summer is the time when out of the blue things happen, so get ready. If you have children, when is your babysitter going on vacation? You’ll need to know this so you’ll know which weeks will be more hectic than usual. Is there a summer conference or overnight business trip that you’ll need to attend? How does that align with your schoolwork? Have any extended family coming to visit for two weeks? Make a study schedule so that your family time doesn’t interfere with your schoolwork time.
Plan to party: When summer school is over, you will want (and need) a break. Plan to do something yourself after summer school ends. Have a party with your friends. Take your vacation at that time, or take a second one. Not only would you have worked all year, but most of your summer too, so plan to enjoy yourself. You’ll definitely deserve it.
Summer school can be as successful as the regular school year, but it takes extra planning and lazer focus because you will be tempted by everything SUMMER. Just know when to work hard and play hard, and you’ll be fine.
Keep moving forward,