This spring has been unsettling, challenging, and downright scary for many of us, including our college students. They’ve been uprooted from college and replanted at home, with little opportunity to go anywhere or see anyone other than their family. Like some garden plants, not all transplant well. All require a little extra care – some extra water and not too much sun – while they adjust.
Your student may have made the transition to college-from-home smoothly or may have struggled with this new learning environment. Fortunately for many students, the semester is either over or just about there. It’s time for a collective sigh of relief. However it turned out, at least it’s done.
Taking a break – or taking a class?
So why, then, might your student want to turn around and sign up for a class or two this summer – especially if they didn’t like this new online environment? Shouldn’t they just relax and breathe that sigh of relief that they got through it? Don’t they deserve a break?
Your student does deserve a break, and they should savor that long sigh of relief. Be sure to congratulate them for making that transition – whether it was pretty or not, they made it – and do whatever you can to help them enjoy the moment.
But there are some reasons why taking a summer class this year makes good sense. Taking one or two classes in the summer may actually feel like a vacation compared to the full load of classes they have just completed. Talk to your student and think together about some of these reasons.
- Your student may or may not be able to find a summer job this year. The jobless numbers are staggering, and more people are staying home (even if they live in a state that gives them an option of going out.) For whatever reason, there may be fewer options this summer. What will your student do with their time – especially if large gatherings are still restricted? Taking a summer class will give your student something on which to focus and will help them feel productive with this lost time. They can end the summer with a few extra credits.
- If the transition this past semester did not go well for your student (and many students simply gave up once they moved home) taking a summer class can be an opportunity to make up for some lost credits – or possibly retake a class that ended with a poor grade.
- No one knows yet what college in the fall will look like. Will students be back on campus? Will all classes be online? There seems to be an increasing likelihood that many schools will be offering their classes online – at least for some of the fall semester. If your student didn’t do well in an online format or felt overwhelmed by the technology, taking one online class in the summer may give them the chance with only one course, to experiment and get comfortable with the online format. It’s a chance to work with the tools, ask the instructor for extra help, find the rhythm of working at home. This will make fall semester go much more smoothly.
- Taking a class or two over the summer will not only help your student get comfortable with the format, it will help them put some extra credits “in the bank.” This may mean that your student can take one or two fewer courses in the fall and ease up their schedule. Taking four courses instead of five in the fall, for instance, can make the semester much more manageable.
- Some schools may be offering a discount for summer courses to encourage students to take classes and to stay engaged. Have your student check to see what their school is doing.
- Taking one summer class might make sense for incoming students as well if their school allows it. It will give them time to become engaged, meet (virtually) other students and an instructor, and get more familiar with the technology they’ll use whether they are on campus or off.
- Taking a summer class also allows your student to stay connected with other students. They may be checking in with their friends socially, but taking a class together, working on group projects, and having a common goal is also important and helpful for your student’s state of mind.
- Of course, there are also all of the usual reasons why a summer class may make sense. Summer school can give your student a chance to get ahead, to make up for some lost credits, to focus on that one difficult class, to stay busy, to take advantage of smaller classes, and to stay “school sharp” for the fall semester.
Although your student may initially say “No way!” to the idea of a summer class, discuss some of the reasons why it might make sense – this year more than ever. Let your student make the decision, of course, because if they don’t want to do it there’s a good chance it won’t go well. But at least help your student understand some of the advantages and make an informed decision.