Published: April 27, 2005
Beginning May 9 and continuing through August 3, summer semesters A, B, C and D take the same amount of course work from a regular fifteen week semester and compact them into a mere six weeks. This provides students with an opportunity to graduate more quickly, also providing more focused study of the topics in a shorter period of time.
PJC students and department heads differ in opinions in reference to the pros and cons of these brief summer courses.
“The pros are obvious. Summer courses allow you to graduate sooner. It’s a semester less to take in the end,” student Anna Karaski said.
However, the benefits of the accelerated courses do not come without their downsides.
“I have to speak for my own department,” Wanda Cook, the department chair for Developmental Studies, said. “But with all the homework, feedback, and problems, it just seems too fast.”
“The disadvantages are obvious. Instead of having one hour a day three times a week, you have an hour and thirty five minutes a day, four times a week. There is a great deal of concentrated exposure to the subject,” Thom Botsford, head of the English and Communications department, said. “You have to complete the same amount of work in six weeks that you would in a regular fifteen week term.”
Undoubtedly, the shortened semester time and pinpointed coursework requires a deeper level of diligence. This, however, can also be an advantage.
“One thing about summer school is that students seem to be really serious. Most students who come in summer really want to be here,” Cook said. “Lots of times, classes are much better in the summer because the students are far more motivated.”
Having less time in which to teach their classes, teachers themselves have to make changes to their curriculums in order to cut them down for the shorter semesters, said Botsford.
Nonetheless, these changes may lean toward the benefit of the students.
“Teachers tend to go a little easier on you because it is summer,” Karaski said.
Additionally, the summer semesters provide an opportunity for students to keep their subjects fresh on their mind, said Botsford.
This may be particularly beneficial for those who have to take preliminary or “prep” course, said Cook.
Both enrollment and specialized classes are much more limited in the summer. Sometimes, in fact, there is a risk of classes being canceled due to insufficient enrollment. Nonetheless, the smaller amount of students who do come to brave the speedy summer semesters seem to be no less successful academically than those coming to the regular semesters, despite the greatly accelerated pace of the courses.
“We seem to have a larger passing rate in the summer. Looking over percentage rates, even in math, for the most part, they all seem to do better,” Cook said.
Botsford said that grades remain about the same in the English department.
However, in spite of the balanced grades, the lazy air of summer cannot be totally excluded from the students’ lives.
Student Anna Karaskai knows the feeling.
“Truthfully [my grades] are passable but a little lower. You tend to slack off. Everyone tends to say, I really should be in class today… but its summer!”