Summer college courses are often intense immersions into their subjects. There are usually two sessions: one in the beginning of the summer and one at the end. They allow students to earn credits during all or part of their summer vacations.
These courses are growing in popularity because they are quick, financially beneficial, and can be taken in a classroom or online. Students can even take them at a local community college and transfer the credits to their four-year colleges! But all great things come with a price, and in the case of summer classes, the price is long days and heavy coursework. Due to the demanding nature of these programs, it’s best to know what to do and what not to do.
Do This: Utilize your syllabus as much as possible.
Not That: “Oh, I’m just going with the flow, taking assignments as they come, you know?”
Keeping up with classwork is easy if you are organized, but slacking for even a moment can let that work get away from you and pile up. Summer is a great time for distractions; find a way to balance work and play so that you stay focused on assignments. Transfer the information from your syllabus onto your personal calendar. This will help you finish projects on time (or, dare we say, early?), and tend to your priorities while you also enjoy some time for social activities.
Do This: Get the kids to a sleepover camp for your benefit (and theirs).
Not That: Drop them off at the dog park while you’re in class.
If you have children, your time with them will be precious but limited. Luckily, there are many options for assistance; many colleges offer day-care centers. Search the college website and give its child development center a call to make arrangements. Local day cares and babysitters are also great options. Even if you might not need help throughout the entire course, look for child-care options just in case. It will be beneficial to have someone on hand when you’re feeling overwhelmed or when you just need some quiet time to finish an essay. Also, don’t be afraid to let your professors know if you have kids, a full-time job, or both! While they may not give you leeway on deadlines, they can be more understanding if you have to leave class early or arrive late.
Do This: If you’ve chosen to sign up for an online class, prepare yourself.
Not That: “No teachers, no rules, no problems!”
While online courses provide flexibility, transferability, and some financial freedom, they are challenging. Understand the dynamic ahead of time. Once again, organizing your calendar while cross-checking your syllabus will help you better perceive the demand of deadlines. Taking classes online during summer will give you insight into the world of distance education. If you are trekking to campus each semester, after dipping your feet in the water, you may decide that working from your computer is actually a better fit for you.
Do This: Find time to get outside and do things that you love!
Not That: “No time, gotta work.”
Even if you have homework to do on your computer, get out and enjoy some sunshine. In fact, it may be one of the best ways to keep you from burning out. Studies have shown that nature can decrease the risk of depression, increase concentration, and get creative juices flowing, so do it for your brain! Find a place where you have a wifi connection or a hotspot, then take an umbrella and give your computer some shade so that you can still read the screen. Speaking of, don’t forget your sunscreen!
Do This: Know that you are an inspiration to your children.
Not That: Think college has an age limit.
“You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late, and never too sick to start from the scratch once again.” - Bikram Choudhury
Children look up to their parents as examples. Why tell your kids that education is important when you can show them? Show them how you care for yourself and for them. Show them how education can increase your income and provide new and exciting job opportunities. Show them that you can do it, and in doing so, they will believe they can achieve great heights, too.
Do This: Be ready for the heat.
Not That: Bring summertime sweets.
It gets hot in classrooms, (especially if you have hot flashes) so bring water and a hand fan. Be wary of eating ice cream and other foods that cause a sugar crash; they will not help you focus. Also try to avoid caffeine crashes, so don’t guzzle too much iced coffee. Two good snacks to quench your thirst and curb your cravings are apples and oranges. They’re easy to take on the go, and each has simple sugars in them that will not spike your blood sugar unless you eat a lot at once.
Last but not least, remember why you’re pursuing your degree. Remember how many doors will be opened by your commitment to furthering your education. Summer classes immerse you in a subject for a short period of time, and they can take a toll on your mind, energy level, and mood at times. But, whether you’re advancing your existing career or preparing for a new one, your time and energy are worth it.
Keep on, keepin’ on!