Surviving Summer Session

The dreaded words since high school… summer school! Believe it or not, many college students have to take summer classes. It could be because they need to retake a class because of a not so hot grade, but it might just be so they can stay on track with graduation…this is normal! I can honestly say that all of my friends have at least taken one summer class! Myself? I’m on number three…

Get organized with a calendar.

Think you don’t have time for a summer class? Think again! During my first summer class (which was a 45 minutes away, every day for six weeks), I was also managing a clothing store. This summer, I am working full time (1 ½ hour commute each way), with a part time job on the side while taking TWO classes. The classes are online, with only one day of commuting but online classes can be just as difficult as traditional courses. I’m not telling you this so you feel bad for me and my “busy bee” schedule. Instead, think of it as motivation for working out your own schedule!

To give you the last little boost you might need, here are some tips that ALWAYS work for me during summer session.

How to survive:

Prioritize!

Yes you want to go to the shore with your friends for the week but school is a little more important than getting a tan. My 21st birthday happened to fall during my first week of classes and work. I made time to see my friends, but still got up at 5:15 for work the next morning!

Time Management is key.

You MUST plan your weeks ahead, especially if you are juggling many things at once. You also must be prepared. Plan your homework, study, and leisure times. Also, be sure to read all of the information about due dates and expectations from your professor so you are not caught by surprise later. For example, I know I have two discussions and an exam due on Sunday night. However, I’m planning to visit my sisters to see my baby niece that day…and homework is the last thing I want to worry about. The solution? I handed in my work today! A great way to plan ahead is to use a calendar, agenda, or post-it notes so you can visually see your work load and be able to check things off a list, that’s my favorite thing to do! Set reminders in your phone if you have to, just stay on track.

Set Goals

This goes along with time management. Set goals with reading time, study time, etc. Based on your schedule for the week have a goal to read everything by Wednesday, finish your written assignment Thursday, and take your exam Friday.

Study!

Summer does not equal slacking. How will you pass exams if you don’t study? This is especially important if you are taking online classes. Sitting in a classroom helps you absorb a lot of the information (of course you will still need to study!). However, online classes force you to teach yourself and really focus. Besides learning the information at hand, give yourself plenty of time for study so you can really get the concepts down, but also seek help if needed. If you wait until the day it is due you probably won’t be able to receive much help. Also – because you are probably living at home, make sure to study in a quiet place away from everyone else. Studying in bed with the TV on and your little siblings running around probably is not the best idea.

Work with Work…

Your boss will understand that you are taking classes. If you need to only work four days instead of five a week talk to your boss! Even if you can’t have the day maybe they can offer you some advice or solutions to lower your stress levels.

Flash card envelopes.

I don’t know how you study, but I need music playing, I need to reread and rewrite the information, I need something to snack on and a drink, and I need every single thing I need to do written in front of me. Sometimes, I even go so far as to make a million flash cards and use two envelopes to test myself! If I know the answer it goes in the “IK!” envelope, if I don’t the flashcard goes in the “IDK” envelope.

Use your resources.

Professors are your friends! If you’re struggling, ask for help. Summer sessions are much shorter than full semesters. Because they are so compact, it’s important to ask for help as soon as you need it. If you wait until the end there is little time to recover and pull your grades back together.

R&R!

This is the most important. Summer is a time to rest and relax! Plan times to go to the beach with your friends, have a campfire, or just take a nap! If you plan ahead and use your time management and goal setting skills you can plan to have a free weekend, every weekend! That’s why I’m finishing all my work NOW so I can go to my sister’s house!

This is your summer; use it to your advantage!

What other helpful tips do you have about surviving summer classes? Post them in the comments below!

Written by Guest Blogger, Maria Cafferata

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