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Tips for Excelling in Community College Summer Classes

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The summer semester at community college is a unique experience that provides plenty of opportunities for students of all types. Learn more about this type of session and pick up some strategies that will make your experience much smoother.

Summer Courses at Community College

Unlike elementary, middle, and high schools, community colleges operate on a year-round basis. While the traditional academic calendar features a Fall and Spring semester and runs from September to June, most schools also offer courses during the summer months.

Students of all types find themselves in these classes. Some are in an accelerated program and take summer classes to earn their degree sooner, while others have busy jobs and use the flexible scheduling to complete their coursework outside of regular hours.

Laptop & sun

If you need to retake a class or can't find room in your schedule during the school year, the summer semester is a great time to meet requirements.

No matter your reason for enrolling in community college summer classes, these courses offer a whole host of benefits and are a great way to stay on track academically.

The following list contains some helpful tips that are sure to help make your experience both productive and enjoyable.

Adapt to Changes

Summer classes are usually taught by the same professors, so you'll be learning the same content as you would if you were to take the class during the Fall or Spring semester. They are not necessarily more difficult, but you should be aware of the differences that may surprise unprepared students.

The chief difference is time; whereas standard classes are taught over the span of three or four months, summer classes usually last no more than 12 weeks, and can even be as short as six-to-eight weeks. In order to counteract time constraints, courses are often taught at a much quicker pace. While this speed helps cover everything on the syllabus, it also makes it very easy to fall behind.

Professor lecture

Don't count on professors being lenient either. Their expectations will remain high and you'll be expected to complete the usual amount of tests, readings, and exams.

Act Natural

Despite the unusual schedule, it's important to keep in mind that you shouldn't expect summer classes to be any less challenging; these are still college-level courses that will cover advanced topics, and you'll need to devote your full attention to them.

The bright side to this is that you can easily implement your favorite study strategies and learning skills. Classes are taught in the same style, so your tried and true abilities will be very useful here. A couple of especially useful study tips include:

  • Review the syllabus: Taking a look at the syllabus lets you know what you're in for. You can plan out your semester and be ready for any major assignments.
  • Stay organized to prevent falling behind: Getting off on the right foot is essential, and the compressed schedule is unforgiving for students who procrastinate.
  • Consult with your professor if you're having trouble: If you've fallen behind and need help, don't be afraid to ask your professor for assistance.
  • Form friendships and connect with your classmates: Just because your class is shorter than usual, it doesn't mean you shouldn't make an effort to get to know your peers!

Friends on campus

Take Advantage of the Schedule

Every community college major, from anthropology to zoology, comes with a set of electives. These courses are often overlooked in favor of more major-specific courses, but they are just as important; you'll need to complete them in order to earn your degree.

Despite the importance of electives, it can sometimes be hard to find time in your busy class schedule for these classes.

Summer, though, is an excellent time to take electives and fill in any gaps on your academic path. With clever scheduling, you can take your major courses during the fall and spring, and then use the summer to make sure that you have satisfied all the requirements.

Stay Focused

Summertime has a reputation for being the season to relax, unwind, and take a break. Most students stop taking classes, families go on vacation, and the warm weather means plenty of opportunities for fun. As a student taking summer classes, it's your job to avoid these distractions and concentrate on your studies.

Of course, taking a break every now and then is fine. In fact, frequent breaks while studying may even help your academic performance, as they have been shown to boost creativity and improve concentration. You shouldn't feel the need to lock yourself away and completely ignore friends and family. Find a healthy balance that allows you to have some fun without hurting your grades.

Asking for tips from alumni can be useful as well.

Student from behind

Summer classes at community college may seem strange and daunting, but it's nothing you can't handle. With preparation, dedication, and a healthy dose of hard work, you're sure to ace your courses and get another step closer to your degree or certificate.

By Bill Sands
December 2016
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