Students debate benefits of taking summer courses

By Marcia Harris

Every summer thousands of University students stay in Champaign-Urbana to take summer school. Whether it is the four-week long Summer Session I or the eight-week Summer Session II, many choose to take advantage of the long break to earn extra credit hours. While summer school is good for putting students ahead of the game, some question how much learning can really be done in the compressed, fast-paced classes. Students and professors both agree there are positives and negatives to taking summer school.

“A fast-paced learning environment won’t be a problem for them because they are good in that specific area,” said Jonetta Harrison, sophomore in education.

Harrison thinks it is best for people to take summer classes in subjects they know will be easier for them.

She also believes summer school is good for people who are able to catch on to new material quickly. In the end she said it all depends on the person.

Professors also attest to the benefits of summer school.

“They are smaller and allow more interaction with the students. This translates into more opportunities to learn about the interests of the individuals and to try to adjust some of the topics to their specified interests. Since the focus of summer courses is necessarily more concentrated, students often learn and retain a greater quantity of information,” said Dr. John Kindt, Professor of Business and Legal Policy.

Dr. Kindt also added that publication deadlines are less pressing during the summer, which gives professors more time to interact with students.

Melissa Girard, English Ph.D. student and summer school teaching assistant, agrees with him to some extent.

“In some ways, I think summer classes can have a better format than those during the normal semester. If you want to focus in-depth on a topic, it’s a definite advantage to meet more frequently over a shorter period of time. You tend to retain more of what you’re learning,” Girard said.

Yet, Girard admits there are some drawbacks.

“On the other hand, I also think it’s fair to say that students do less work in summer classes. As an instructor, you just have less time to work with. It’s difficult to assign a long research paper, for example, since students would have to begin work on it the first week of class,” Girard said.

However, some students who enroll in summer school find themselves in over their heads. Krystal Lamb, senior in ALS, got more than she bargained for when she signed up for a Summer Session II science class.

“I am very overwhelmed at how much material I needed to learn the first week,” Lamb said. “The class started Monday and I had a lab quiz on Friday morning on every bone from the shoulder to the toe!”