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May 2, 2013

Summer classes help students get ahead

Multitude of options allow students to more easily manage schedules

By Patrick Elder

Long have students struggled with scheduling. Mixing and matching classes can often seem akin to putting together a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle of a solid-green painting. Add in a change in major or any other bump in the road and it can be like piecing together that puzzle while wearing drunk-goggles.

But fear not, worried collegians. There is a way to lessen the stress that comes with trying to shoehorn your required classes into a tight schedule: summer classes.

“I would say the summer gives students who want to go to school year-round the chance to do that by adding a third semester,” said Dr. George Ray, chair of the School of Communication.

Summer classes provide students the opportunity to alleviate some of their scheduling woes by going outside the strictures of the conventional Fall-Spring academic year. Scheduling in such a way can be especially helpful to those with troublesome work hours or hectic family situations.

“At 36 years old, I’m trying to get in, get out and get it over with as quick as possible,” said Eric Bonzar, a senior journalism and promotional communication student. “The fact that I was able to be a full-time student allowed me to do so.”

There are five sessions of summer courses—a six-week session from May 18-June 28, an eight-week session from May 18-July 12, a 10-week session from May 18-July 26, a 12-week session from May 18-August 9 and a second six-week session from July 1-August 9. With condensed courses and so many different sessions, creative students can complete more courses during the summer than would even be possible in the fall or spring semesters.

However, this ignores the biggest hang-up for most students pondering picking up a summer class or two; summer is for fun. Students often need a break to recoup after two successive semesters spent slaving over a hot laptop, writing papers and fretting over deadlines.

“I really just need a break this summer,” said David Burkart, a freshman Journalism and Marketing double major. “It’s my first year back at school after a few years off, so I’m still getting back into the swing of things. Summer classes this year would be too much for me too soon.”

Another option for students like Burkart are online courses. Though he and Bonzar both personally dislike them because of their impersonality, many students find the convenience of never having to leave home too appealing to pass up—so many so that the School of Communication actually offers more online courses during the summer than in-classroom ones.

“I would say that’s been the trend,” Dr. Ray said. “Actually, I could call it a trend, but demand was strong last year and it’s strong this year.

“There are some students who would just as soon not travel to campus five days-a-week in the summer if they can do the same thing from their home or some other place. They don’t have to come down here, park and go to class five days a week and they prefer it. I would call it a convenience factor.”