Following a grueling series of fall and spring semesters, the summer is often seen as the time to relax and bask in the sunlight and warm weather (although Utah seems to only offer winter as of late). Regardless, with the University of Utah becoming a hollowed ghost town seemingly overnight, enrolling in the summer semester can be rather daunting. Before writing off the notion, however, seriously weigh the advantages of attending classes over the break.

Ordinarily beginning around May 15, the summer semester is an ideal time for students to eliminate dreaded General Education requirements. Those matriculating into the U this fall should expect to become familiarized with these courses, which offer introductions into English, history, science, fine arts and mathematics. Essentially every university in the United States requires students to take these courses — with differing requirements — to provide exposure to the numerous academic fields out there.

There is little more obnoxious than omitting an interesting class for a Gen Ed during the regular semesters. A significant benefit of enrolling in summer classes, therefore, is eliminating these standard graduation requirements. This often means that when fall begins, several pre-requisites related to your major are completed without issue, thereby freeing up additional space for other courses. At the U, furthermore, the summer is split into two separate “sessions,” or halves that denote the end of a condensed course. Typically, classes during the Summer are only six weeks, which is brief compared to fall and spring semesters. This often translates into less time spent focusing on material that is either mandated as a Gen Ed or too arduous to complete with additional major-related courses.

While the split summer session can be attractive, it is important to keep in mind these courses are taught at an accelerated pace. Even during the fall or spring, professors are pressured to teach hastily. Now imagine having to instruct students with the same material in less than half of the time. Prior to signing up for numerous summer courses, you should ensure that you can handle the demands of a shorter program.

Another issue that could arise from enrolling in the summer semester is dealing with academic pressure. Indeed, students and professionals in the U.S. are undeniably being increasingly asked to achieve greater levels of productivity. Whether in the form of academic expectations or requirements or that one report that is needed by dawn, there is veritable pressure for individuals to work until the brink exhaustion and collapse. If the fall and spring semesters were truly an arduous grind for you, then it could make sense to take a break in the summer. Such a break could prove both justified and productive. According to a National College Health Assessment from 2013, “About one-third of U.S. college students had difficulty functioning in the last 12 months due to depression, and almost half said they felt overwhelming anxiety in the last year.” Instead of eliminating Gen Eds, use the summer to adventure outside before the land is privatized and stripped of its natural beauty.

Yet, if you are one of the few students that are not dissuaded by attending class a few times a week during the summer, then consider the following list of additional benefits. Alongside a shorter, albeit condensed, semester, the Summer offers a nearly empty campus filled with numerous places to study inside and outside. Imagine studying amongst the wonderful U branding that adorns each building, sitting under a tree contemplating the meaning of human existence. The summer is the perfect time to focus on a few courses rather than many, moving one step closer towards the ultimate victory of graduation.     

letters@chronicle.utah.edu

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