Advice for the Short Summer Term

One of the things that you often hear when taking a class during the summer term is that you’ll spend as much time in the classroom as in a regular semester. This is true. You will be in the class the same number of hours, you will have the same number of assignments, and you will have to do the same amount of work to get the grade. But you will have to do all of this in a shortened amount of real time. Five weeks or ten weeks are simply not the same as fifteen. Therefore, there are some things you have to do if you are going to be successful in a summer term:

  • Go to the first class and every class after that. (This is true even if it’s a web course. Treat it as an on-campus class. Schedule class time.)
  • Get out your calendar (either old-school planner or online) and write down all your due dates. Due to the compressed nature of the classes, you’ll probably see that more deadlines pop up on the same weeks. Plan for those crunch periods.
  • Hit the ground running. There’s no time to lollygag in the summer. Start your readings and assignments on day one and keep up with them.
  • Get help. The pace of summer term means that when you don’t understand something, it doesn’t take long to get completely overwhelmed. Don’t think that you’ll catch on later. Go to your instructor, the tutors, or your classmates. But ask for help immediately.
  • Start any research papers and projects early. Be working on them during the entire term.
  • Don’t overload yourself. Sometimes students mistake shorter term with easier term and hope to get some courses out of the way or build up their grade point averages. Summer is not easier. For many students, one course is plenty.
  • Do reward yourself. Since you’ll be doubling (at least) your study time, make sure you give yourself some breaks as well: 
    • Go to the pool.
    • See a movie.
    • Eat an ice cream.
    • Take a walk.
    • Drive or bike to clear your head.
    • Play Words with Friends
  • But keep the breaks short and get back to work. Set a timer and be tough with yourself. When the timer goes off, return to studying.

Procrastination is always the student’s enemy, and in the summer, it can become a mortal one. So start strong and keep up for a successful summer term.


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