Vanessa King, a third-year journalism student, writes about her positive experience with summer courses and the five key benefits of enrolling in classes during the summer semester at Carleton University.

I know the words “summer school” generally bring up terrible thoughts of being locked inside listening to a professor while the sun is shining through the window on another perfect day of summer.

But it’s time to get those images out of your head. As I learned last summer, taking courses during the summer semester is actually a fantastic opportunity for students from any faculty.

During the traditional school year, I find I can become overwhelmed when learning about five separate subjects. Eventually, lectures and readings from each course mix, and I’m no longer able to separate material in my mind. On top of that, each week is packed with assignments for separate courses, stressing me out even more. In the summer, though, I was able to focus on a single subject. Because I only took one class, the professor’s lectures were clear in my mind, making it easier to correlate information from one lecture to the next. Summer semester gives students the rare opportunity to focus on one or two subject areas, making studying and learning about each subject easier than in the fall or winter semesters.

Another perk of summer courses is that class sizes are really small. In the normal school year, professors sometimes can’t respond to every question about a lecture or help every student with assignments. Summer term gives students a better opportunity to get to know the professor and seek out help whenever they need it. Having the professor know your name and recognize that you attended every class is a huge perk when it comes time to ask a question. Plus, if you ever need a reference, it’s great when the professor knows that you actively participated in the course, rather than just sitting in lectures!

A third advantage of summer courses is that they allow you to either get ahead or catch up on credits. In my second year, I found it difficult to balance a full course load while still maintaining a high GPA. I dropped a course in my second semester and needed half a credit to make it up. Taking a full credit during the summer not only made up for that missing half credit, but has also given me the opportunity to be flexible with my schedule in the future. Now, I can drop a class without it being a big deal because I took summer course.

The fourth perk of summer courses is that they can usually fit into your schedule. Carleton does a great job of balancing night and day classes, along with online courses for those learning from a distance. As someone who works a regular 9-5 schedule during the summer, I liked that I still had a lot of choice in courses even though I could only take those offered at night. Also, there are tons of VOD courses available, so students who go home during the summer can still have the same opportunities as those in Ottawa.

The fifth and final perk of summer courses is that they are condensed. Having six hours of class a week may scare you off, but it’s actually much better in the long run. You learn the same amount of material but in less time. Also, you can earn a full credit in the time it takes to earn half a credit during any other sessions. It’s intense, but if you attend class and stay on top of studying, you can ace a class in half the time it normally takes.

Summer courses may seem daunting, but they are one of the best opportunities offered at Carleton. If you’re interested in taking a course, I recommend checking the offerings. There’s something offered to fit everyone’s interests!

Submitted by Vanessa King, a third-year journalism student. 

To learn more about summer studies at Carleton, visit carleton.ca/summer


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