Why 2021 Is The Perfect Year to Promote Summer School

By Chelsea Castonguay Stanhope

shutterstock_1384671929Summer 2021 is almost here, and with it brings the promise of the world slowly beginning to open again. While we move closer to achieving safety for most of the global population in regards to the COVID-19 virus, there’s still some risk associated with in-person interactions. As a result, many universities are continuing with virtual editions of their summer school programmes in 2021. Here’s what we learned about how the pandemic will impact summer school this year. 

If the 2020-2021 year was difficult academically, taking summer courses might be the way to help catch back up. If there were classes that were missed during the 2020-201 year due to COVID-19, encourage students to check out the course catalog to see if they can be retaken. For students looking to apply to universities, summer school can help boost a GPA, making it more likely they’ll receive an acceptance letter to their dream school. 

Summer school is also a great way for students to try classes that don’t fit in during the academic year, explore other majors for those considering making a switch, or to retake a class they might not have done so well in. The shorter terms and faster-paced classes allows students to pick and choose how much time they want to spend on courses over the summer. 

Free courses:

Many students who lost time on their degree progress during the 2019-2020 academic years due to COVID-19 related shutdowns or school closures may be looking to get back on track. Therefore, the idea of attending summer school or summer programs isn’t too far off the mark, but finances may be a potential barrier for some. 

Schools must look for ways to encourage students into continuing their education, starting with free summer school programs. Northeast Mississippi Community College is meeting this need by “allowing all students who meet general enrollment requirements, including dual-enrollment students, to take three to 12 credit of classes during the first and second summer terms for free. The enrolled students will also get $550 for living expenses.” In Maine, the community college system is attempting to manage an 8% drop in enrollment by offering newly enrolled high school students one free summer course. This is a great way for students to test the waters, so to speak, while figuring out which degree path might be right for them.

What it’ll look like:

Summer courses from most institutions will be offered online. Brandeis University has moved their entire course offerings online, in order to allow students the safety and flexibility to stay home while keeping up with their classes. For students attending Harvard University, their over 400 summer courses will be available online for the summer of 2021. Students can access the classes remotely, but it’s unlikely students will be permitted to live on campus this summer.

The University of Maine has a robust summer university course catalogue, with sessions stretching out over nine weeks. While the majority of courses will be offered remotely, the university also offers “hundreds of courses on-campus, online, and via video conferencing as well as professional development opportunities and youth summer camps.” This allows students to customize their summer schedules in a way that works for them. Students attending UMass Dartmouth can select online, in-person, or blended courses for their summer schooling.

What to know about summer courses:

Summer classes can be a great way to get ahead or keep up with degree progress. However, it’s important to make sure the classes students are taking are transferable to their university and applicable to their degree program. Students don’t want to spend time and money taking a course, only to find out it doesn’t transfer back to their school. Any student planning to take classes outside of their university should connect with their advisor or student records office to make sure they’re staying on track.

Summer courses are often more fast-paced than fall or spring semester courses, as they’re trying to pack a lot of information into a shorter time. Therefore, students should be prepared for the fact that they may have more homework, and increased times spent in class. They can also expect summer classes to have more coursework with shorter deadlines. That being said, if there’s a class they’re not particularly excited about, such as a math or writing intensive course, this might be the time to get it over with so they can load up their fall schedule with courses they enjoy. 

Students who opt to participate in online classes over the summer can work from the comfort of their home, the beach, or between jobs. Additionally, they won’t have to worry about ongoing testing, or maintaining social distancing while in class. Summer school also offers the chance to connect with students who they may not meet during the traditional academic year. 

If you know a student who is looking for a summer course that works for them, they can check out this comprehensive list from Keystone Academic Solutions. They can start by browsing through some of the popular offerings before narrowing down their search. While this year might not have gone exactly to plan, the upcoming year offers more hope for a sense of normalcy returning. Summer courses might look a little different than in years past, but students are sure to find something that piques their interest and helps them reach their goals. 

Topics: Education coronavirus & higher education

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