Ah, summer school — A place where (according to the movies) delinquent students who flunk a class during the school year have to spend their summer instead of enjoying vacations. Summer school is a punishment for many a high-schooler, a tool to keep students motivated to do their work or be forced to redo it during their precious break.
Summer school in college is rarely talked about in the movies, however: Is summer school still for the unmotivated college students? Is it a punishment for not taking school seriously?
It is neither of those. In fact, in my experience, it is the exact opposite. Students who take summer classes during Lipscomb’s summer semester are the most motivated. They want to graduate on time, or graduate early, or in my case graduate with extra degrees that may or may not help with graduate school admissions.
Other than the winter semester (known as Wintermester at Lipscomb) Summer Semester is the shortest of the school semesters. In fact, it is broken up into three different semesters that are each five weeks long: Maymester, Junemester, and Julymester (catchy names, I know). Some classes last 10 weeks, throughout two of the semesters. These are called “full-term” summer semester classes, but they are just June and July.
This means you can get three credit hours knocked out in five weeks or 10-weeks! Sure, the classes are fast-paced and you typically have to be there every day or for four hours on one day, but most professors I’ve had are efficient teachers and don’t ever hold you the entire length of the class. I’ve also learned just as much as any Fall or Spring 16-week class and retained the information I learned, so the professors do not skim the material.
The retention aspect certainly holds true for classes that are daily. When you have to do statistics or speak and read Spanish every day, your mind truly does start to think in those terms for those whole weeks. It is hard for me to forget things that I thought about daily for a whole month.
One thing about Wintermester, while it is the shortest semester (being three weeks long), there are practically no general education or major-specific classes offered and really can only ever fit a handful of peoples’ schedules. Also, I love Christmas and the whole winter holiday, so I would have a harder time giving that up for school instead of summer.
The summer semester is quieter too! Sure, Lipscomb will have summer camps and other events on campus, but there aren’t a whole lot of students around and the ones that are around are also focused on their classes. The peripherals of the college experience are also nonexistent, making it much easier to focus on the classes you have. There is also no chapel at all in the summer, depending on where you stand on chapel, this can be great. Personally, I love not having to worry about it!
The idea of giving up a summer of freedom certainly leaves a bad taste in many students’ mouths, but even with Lipscomb’s summer semesters, you still get a few weeks of no classes between the spring and fall semesters. If you don’t do Maymester (which rarely has that many classes during it anyway) you get two and a half weeks after finals in May where you get to go on vacation and hang out with friends. If you only do classes in June, then you have all of July and vice versa. If you do end up with a 10-week class that goes through June and July, then you still have two and a half weeks off in August before Fall semester.
I take classes in June and July, but I still get 5 weeks off altogether in the summer! That is still more vacation time than when I graduate and enter the workforce. That’s what college is supposed to help you with, being prepared to enter the workforce. As someone who consistently “gives up” my summers for class, I feel more prepared for a life of summer just being another day at the job. Other college students are going to have a bigger shock when they transition into never having summers again.
This has been my third summer in a row taking classes. I have taken summer classes since the summer after my freshman year. The accumulated credits I obtained from all three summers are 45 credit hours. I can graduate in four years with three degrees simply because I had these three extra semesters’ worth of classes. Many students I know who take summer classes are finishing their degrees within three years.
Of course, there are a few downsides to the summer semester. First, not every class is offered. Really only general education classes and some main foundational classes for some degrees are offered. I planned my semesters so that I got a Bible, language, and basic math and science classes out of the way in the summer. Another downside is cost, if you don’t have a scholarship that covers the summer semesters and can’t afford another semester of block tuition, then summer school is definitely not helpful. However, if you do have a scholarship, summer is a great deal as each of the semesters is counted as one full semester to the financial office. So three, four-credit-hour classes are taken each month fulfills the 12-hour full-time enrollment requirement of one semester.
I love summer classes, I love the fields of study that I am learning about and I love that I get to constantly learn about them even during the summer. If you are passionate about your major and passionate about what you want to do, summer classes help you get there and show others that you are dedicated to your future career.