You’ve been waiting anxiously for your college student’s semester to end so that he can return home for the summer. It has been a long year, and although you know that his return home may come with some issues, you’re looking forward to spending more time with him. But he calls, or writes, or shares during a visit home that he plans to stay at college for the summer. Why, you wonder, would your student rather spend his summer away at college instead of returning home?
There are varying reasons why some students choose to stay at school over one summer — or several summers. It may be important that you help your student explore her reasons to be sure that she is making a wise decision — and so that you will be able to understand her reasoning.
- He may choose to stay on campus and take classes over the summer so he won’t lose momentum. For some students, the long summer break may mean loss of material or skills gained during the previous semester. Others, although they enjoy the break from studying, may find it harder to pick up again in the fall if they don’t keep at it over the summer.
- She may want to take a summer class to gain extra credits. If your student failed or withdrew from any classes during the year, she may want to make up for them during the summer. Or it is possible that your student has a goal of finishing college early and will need the extra summer credits.
- He may choose to take summer classes so that he may take a slightly lighter load during the regular semester. Some students find it difficult to balance five or six courses during a traditional semester. By taking a couple of classes during the summer, your student may be able to take fewer credits during the school year.
- He may choose to stay on campus to take advantage of an opportunity to work closely with a particular professor. Some popular professors’ classes fill quickly during the year, but may have openings during the summer. Or your student may have a chance to do research or work closely with a certain professor during the summer. These opportunities may not exist during the busy school year.
- She may choose to take a particular class during the summer which is a pre-requisite for a course that she wants to take in the fall. Waiting to take the required pre-requisite in the fall might postpone the course that she truly wants.
- She may simply enjoy the environment of summer classes. Often, summer classes are smaller, more intimate and more low key. There may be additional time for discussion or special projects. There may be more opportunity to get to know other students in the class or the professor.
- The pace of life on the college campus may be appealing. College campuses in the summer generally have fewer students and a slower, more informal atmosphere. Although the campus may be bustling with camps or other groups, in general the atmosphere is much more relaxed than during the academic year.
- Perhaps your student may choose to stay at college for the summer to maintain his independence. It is sometimes a difficult shift for students to transition from the independence of college life to their former role in the family. It’s not that your student doesn’t enjoy being a member of the family, but the appeal of being on his own may be strong.
- Summer might provide your student with a good opportunity to experiment with living off campus. Perhaps your student has lived in the residence halls and is interested in apartment living off campus. Although the atmosphere will be different, summer might provide the perfect opportunity to experiment with this living arrangement without making a full year commitment. At many universities, summer sublets are plentiful. This is a great way to give this lifestyle a try.
- She may choose to stay at school in order to maintain friendships or relationships with others who are also going to be on campus. Just as it was difficult for your student to leave high school friends behind, she may now want to stay in contact with new friends. Summer might provide an opportunity to spend quality time in a less stressful environment with these new friends.
- Your student may choose to stay on campus in order to make new friends. Summer terms are usually much smaller, with many fewer students on campus. This provides a wonderful situation for your student to take time to get to know some new people and to explore new connections and friendships.
- Perhaps your student has a wonderful internship opportunity that is only available during the summer months. Internships are increasingly important as students look for employment after graduation. Your student may wish to stay on campus to take advantage of a great internship.
It may be difficult at first for college parents to understand why their student doesn’t want to rush home for the summer months. It may even be difficult not to take it personally. However, for some students, remaining on campus for the summer can open up new opportunities and definitely be time well spent. It is crucial that parents and students discuss the reasons and implications.
How to Help Your College Student Use the Summer Months Wisely