12 Things I Learned From Taking Summer Classes at My University

12 Things I Learned From Taking Summer Classes at My University

Advice from one Mass Comm. Major to another
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College is a time for growth, and much like the plants outside, we don't stop during the summer! I am of course talking about your summer sessions. If you want to be more efficient, maintain mental health, and reach an academic sweet spot, take these tips as a gift from me to you.

1. Use the stairs, if you have extra time

It is a common occurrence that we find ourselves rushing toward the elevator in a large building to be on time for class. As a busy college student, rushing is beyond understandable. But I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone that many of us are trying to reach a healthier physical status. Don’t guilt yourself if you can’t afford the time to use the stairs. However, if you do obtain extra time (which is a fantastic habit to form) I would urge you to take the stairs.

Over time, you will feel a difference in your leg strength. By the way, if no one’s watching, it can’t hurt to move your arms a bit if it pleases you to exercise those, too. Boost your confidence any way you can! Fast-paced summer classes can be tough.

2. Only miss class in dire circumstances

If you are mildly sick, try to avoid giving others your illness. Take care to use hand sanitizer before going into class, and keep your distance if possible. Bring tissues. Your classmates will thank you. Besides, you may just learn something new that day, or teach a peer something they may not have fully grasped before. If you’re like me, you may have a ton of ambition and therefore hold some guilt for missing class.

Recently, my grandma passed away. It was so hard, but despite others drilling me into fearing absences from condensed classes, I got the nerve to ask for a blessing from my professor to skip class the day after she died. I survived, and I studied that night with Duolingo. It wasn't so bad. I even invited a friend over to help me do some homework. Bringing me to my next point…

3. Invite friends to visit when you aren't feeling the college life

Sometimes, it can help to surround yourself with good company. If you are feeling severely unmotivated, it can be a lifesaver. Bonus points if they are familiar with the subject(s) you are studying.

4. Having a room to yourself is a blessing

Try, if you can, to get your own room within a suite and make it your own. (Ideally, others will help you move into your temporary new home, and you can accomplish finishing your room in one day.) You can do it—I did it with the help of my parents and S.O. Being in a comfortable environment can be a nice option for working on assignments or studying.

5. Moving up class levels is okay!

Don’t be afraid to learn more about a subject that interests you. Or, if it’s a significant course to your major, (like Foreign Language for Mass Communications is for me) go full speed ahead for those credit hours! Chances are, professors who teach summer classes will have a slightly different approach than those who teach during fall/spring. This may give you a new appreciation for the subject.

6. Look up professor ratings

If there are no decent professors with more room for students, talk to your academic advisor about the possibility of requesting an override from your ideal professor. This way, you can fit in the class. It is very easy to accomplish an override if it’s for an online class, by the way. Sometimes, the advisor may even recommend it before you have a chance to ask for a requested override. If you can’t get in contact with your advisor, try e-mailing the professor on your own accord.

7. Ask all questions possible

When the courses are fairly challenging, that is. Summer is a great time to leave your comfort zone during the transition into a new school year. Raise your hand until your arm hurts. It will not only benefit you but also other students (who should for the most part gain respect for you for your bold determination and curiosity). If the course is in a foreign language, try speaking it while asking questions. It is fantastic practice. Also, the professor will often show more fondness toward you.

8. Always have your textbook

I’m talking about when you’re doing work outside of class, especially. Even when you think there’s no way you will need it, have it handy and open to the respective chapter you have been studying in class. This can save you the stress of frantic searching for the exact content that your professor may want you to reference in papers/assignments when you're in a rush.

9. Take advantage of any breaks

I do not mean for studying, by the way; unless that’s entirely necessary for you. As odd as this may sound, it is very beneficial to maintain communication with loved ones during this hectic time in your life… through short class breaks, too. FaceTime your S.O. Call your mom to see how she is. Text your brother/sister. You may thank me later.

10. Know the new hours of campus locations

This way, you can know ahead of time what options are actually available for certain meals or academic tasks. Take note of opening/closing times. There may be an option you were unaware of, and it may save you money if it’s a free-dining location.

11. Placement Tests are often suggestions that can give us (too much?) confidence

Maybe I make it sound too gimmicky, considering college officials can’t help the effects that their placement tests may have. This situation is not true for everyone, of course. You may find yourself in a class that does not offer enough leeway for boosting your GPA. If you’re a freshman or senior, this may be something you need, a boost. My advice to you would be to start with a more basic level of the subject you are familiar with.

For example, I was placed in Spanish 201 (the third level) however I chose to take Spanish 101 (the first level) last semester. It helps to know what you are really getting into. It may seem like the easy way out, but here’s why it’s not: No one is forcing you to review so much of this content. You are doing this on your own accord, when you could potentially be moving up more quickly. One plus: you will likely have an edge over students in those higher-level courses once you decide to join them. I certainly did in Spanish 102 for summer school—and no, it was not just because I had already placed higher than that on the initial test.

12. Find ways to enjoy your summer “break”

This task is likely more or less as challenging as it would seem. But that’s for you to figure out for yourself. Have fun this summer!

Comment how you guys manage summer school. Has it been easy? Difficult? Are you still enjoying your summer?

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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Studying the LSAT and Working Full Time

How to make room for advancing your future while maintaining the present.

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Working full time and studying for the LSAT proves a delicate tightrope that many people grapple to tread. If you find yourself in such a situation, then some good news is on the horizon as many have juggled the requirements of both aspects seamlessly in the past. Today we take a look at what these individuals did and how you too can effectively balance the scales without leaning too much to one side or the other.


Starting early

Having a full-time job leaves little morsels of time to work with and often the best approach entails beginning early so that the collective total makes up constructive study hours in the long run. As a general rule of thumb for the working class, start a minimum of 4 but preferably 6 months to the date of the test. Science dictates that there are half a dozen intellectual and quality hours per day and with a demanding job breathing down your neck, you can only set aside about a third of that for productive LSAT test prep. With 3 months being the measure of ideal study time for a full-time student, you'll need double that period to be sufficiently up to par.


Maximizing your mornings

Studying in the evenings after a grueling and intellectually draining day at work is as good as reading blank textbooks. It's highly unlikely you'll be able to grasp complex concepts at this time, so start your mornings early so that you can devote this extra time when you are at your mental pinnacle to unraveling especially challenging topics. Evening study times should only be for refresher LSAT prep or going through light subject matters requiring little intellectual initiative. For those who hit their stride at night, take some time to unwind and complete your chores before getting down to business well before bedtime.

Taking some time off

All work and no play does indeed make Jack a dull boy and going back and forth between work and study is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. So take some time off of work every now and then, preferably during weekdays- you can ask for a day off every fortnight or so- as weekends are a prime study period free of work obligations. Such breaks reduce fatigue, better study performance and increase the capacity for information retention.

Prioritizing study

Given the scarce oasis of free time in your busy schedule, you cannot afford to miss even a single session and this commitment is important in spreading out the burden so that it is not overwhelming as you approach the finish line. Be sure to have a clear schedule in place and even set reminders/alarms to help enforce your timetable. If it's unavoidable to miss a single session, set aside a makeup as soon as possible.


Last but not least, have a strong finish. Once you are approaching the home run i.e. about 2 or 3 weeks to the test, take this time off to shift your focus solely to the test. The last month can make or break your LSAT test prep and it'll be hard to concentrate on working whilst focusing completely on the test.

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