This past week I finished up my two-month-long Intro to Statistics class and let's just say...the process was rough.
Basically, for two months, as soon as I came home from my internship, I was sitting at my laptop and completing up to four assignments in one night (we'll get to procrastination later on). I've taken a variety of sprint courses throughout all of my breaks so far, and it's not really the easiest thing in the world.
You're basically cramming what would be four months in the classroom into a six to eight-week period, probably online. But with the right professor, scheduling, time management, and headspace, sprint courses might just be for you. Here are some things I have learned from my sprint courses that you may want to consider before you register for them!
1. Managing your time
One of the things that I have learned the hard way with sprint classes is the importance of managing your time. Many sprint courses will be online, giving you the responsibility of when you complete assignments, readings, quizzes, and exams on your own time. Most of the time you'll be working on your assignments alone and having to watch lectures recorded by your professor. Instead of cramming all of your assignments all in one night, it's best to do a little at a time and at least a day before the deadline.
If a class has assignments due on Monday and Thursday and weekly quizzes on Friday, like my Statistics class was, it's probably not a good idea to complete the assignments the day of and wait to study for the quiz until the day before.
Instead, plan what days you'll complete assignments, what days you'll study, and be sure to create these habits at the beginning of the class. Once you lose control of your time management, your assignments and quizzes will definitely be affected! Manage your time wisely, find what studying schedule works for you, and stick to it.
2. Planning ahead
As I mentioned before, planning ahead is extremely important, but not just in the time management case. Make sure that for whatever major and degree you are completing, you have your classes planned out over the time you plan to spend at university.
I will be honest, during my first semester, I had no idea that I had to take three statistics classes for my psychology major (Not saying that would sway my decision and make me change it...okay, maybe it would). I took them this summer so I wouldn't be too far behind, but if I knew I would have to take it for my major sooner, I would have been able to get it done right away.
Go over what classes you will need to complete for your major with your advisor right away so you can plan ahead and get them done in a timely manner. You can often look up your major on your college's website to find the required classes; I would follow their guide to ensure you're not missing anything.
Overall, planning ahead is the best thing you can do for yourself in the long run. Sure, your major might change and some classes might be full, but it will at least give you some idea of what to expect in the next few years. You can plan ahead when or if you'll have to take sprint classes so you aren't scrambling during the last semester of your senior year to find an open spot in a class you need.
Furthermore, be sure to note when your professor or teacher's assistant office hours are! You might need help later on in the class, so it's better to know when their office hours are at the beginning of the class than right before the final exam. Plan the times you'll attend their office hours ahead of time to get the most out of their help and your time.
3. Looking into local community college classes
The main reason I have completed so many sprint courses is, you guessed it, to save money. Although I go to Miami University, I have taken my summer sprint classes at a local community college closer to me. This has given me the ability to cut much of the cost of classes (this community college in particular charges a certain amount of money per hour) as well as save that money for the upcoming semesters at Miami University.
Let's face it, college isn't cheap, especially when you're paying for it by yourself. Sometimes the process of applying to the community college, enrolling in the class, having an advisor give you the OK for taking the class, filling out a transient form for the community college, and finally taking the class is tiring.
But I would honestly say it's worth it. You usually won't get financial aid as a transient student at a community college, but you should be able to apply to applicable scholarships and funds that can help pay for your summer and winter tuition. Doing your research is key!
4. Figuring out your priorities
I've run into some road bumps while taking sprint courses. I took a winter class when my boyfriend was home from his college in another country, which affected how much time I was able to spend with him. I took the Statistics class this summer while having a full time internship that is an hour away. I took a Russian Folklore class this past spring semester while I was already taking 17 hours of classes (Probably the most interesting sprint class I have taken, I definitely recommend but maybe not when you already have a full semester).
Make sure you prioritize the things you find important before you register for a sprint course.
This winter, when my boyfriend visits, I've made sure that I don't have to take any classes (See #2: Planning Ahead). This upcoming semester, I'm only taking 15 credits so I can focus on my different positions in extracurriculars. I encourage you to make a priority list and figure out if this sprint course is on the very top of it.
If it is and you need to take it as soon as possible, go for it! If you don't need to take it right now but it seems interesting, maybe look at the other things you have on your plate. One of the worst things you can do in college is burn yourself out. By making sure you have a balance of classes, extracurriculars, professional experiences, and having fun, you'll be able to master your priorities as well as planning ahead.
5. Avoiding procrastination
Procrastination wasn't really a problem of mine until I took sprint courses during my winter and summer breaks. The fact of the matter is, if you keep putting something off, chances are it's probably not going to get done by the deadline, or in my case, a minute before 11:59 PM.
To succeed in sprint classes, you not only have to manage your time and plan ahead, but you can't procrastinate. Not only does procrastination cause heightened stress in students, but it can affect the grade you get on assignments and exams. The more effort and time you put into assignments, the better the outcome will be and the happier you will be with the effort you put it in!
In my experience, once I procrastinated and got a good grade on the assignment, I thought I could procrastinate for the rest of my assignments. This was not the case at all and doing the assignments a few days before the deadline relieved my stress.
With the fall semester quickly approaching, you'll be getting emails about classes with openings and some of them might be sprint courses that are required by your major. I encourage you to take these classes as they are perfect for someone who is a quick learner, but also caution those who procrastinate or might not have enough time to dedicate hours a day to a class. You know your strengths and weaknesses best, so make sure to consider them before you eagerly jump into a class like I did!