The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Surviving summer courses: a guide

The Daily Illini File Photo
Students studying in Grainger Library for finals on Dec. 6, 2016.

We’ve all been there — you need one more class to graduate, you want to lessen the workload next semester, or you just read the course list for this summer and found one interesting. Make no mistake, the summer course will come for us all.

While the workload seems harsh for the University’s summer courses, take your finger off that drop button — there’s a way to get through the material and this guide is here to help. 

Take a breath

Just like during a normal semester, sometimes seeing the workload for a summer semester can be daunting. At first glance, it may seem like an unimaginable amount of work to do. Don’t panic immediately though, let the nerves pass and take a moment to remind yourself why you’re taking the course. 

Plan ahead

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If you can help it, don’t let a summer course take you by surprise. Most summer courses attempt to fit 16 weeks of material into eight, so they move fast and often have multiple assignments due per week, if not per day. Make a plan for how you will tackle the material and schedule times of the day that you know you will have a moment to dedicate to doing assignments and watching lectures. 

Start early 

Typically, summer courses will be set up by week, and if you’re lucky your professor will post assignments and lectures for the whole week or even the following week. If you can, get to some of that material early. Maybe spend some extra time on the weekend doing an extra reading or two, especially if you know you have a busy week ahead of you. 


Even though it’s summer and the last possible thing you want to be thinking about is studying for an exam, you still have to. Don’t rely on common sense or the professor going easy on you just because it’s summer. You still have to put in a couple of hours of studying to do well on quizzes and exams — maybe even more time than you would in a normal 16-week course. 

Make a study group

Study groups are a great way to motivate yourself and to get feedback from your peers. Reach out to people on the course page and see if they want to meet over Zoom. Even finding other people taking different summer courses and studying with them can be a great motivator to put in the work.

Don’t cheat 

While it might be easy to put a couple of homework questions into a search bar, it really only hurts you, especially in a summer course where catching up on missed material can get difficult. Some of the most important advice one can give for a summer course is not to cheat. Work hard just like you would in a normal course and you will see the progress. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Your professor is there to help you! If you feel like you’re falling behind or not grasping the material, reach out to your professor or even the TA if there is one. You may be able to find some tutors who are still on campus, or if you know someone who has taken the class before don’t hesitate to ask questions. While the phrase “there are no stupid questions” might be a cliche, that doesn’t make it any less true. 

While the material might seem daunting at first, any summer course is conquerable with the right mindset and a little bit of dedication, and with these tips, you’re taking one step closer to getting that A!


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