Peer Mentors Blog

Peer Mentors for First-Year Students

Advice on Taking Summer Courses

by Zachary Hecox | Mar 31, 2014

As the end of the semester looms, what better way to avoid thinking about finals than to contemplate taking summer courses? To help you with your decision, the Peer Mentor Program offers the following pros and cons of extending your college experience into the dog days of the summer.

First, the pros:

  • The classes will be smaller. It’s not at all uncommon to see classes that usually have 250 students being offered over the summer with only 25 students. Avoiding the monster classes at ACPHS is a real plus. You could actually be able, for a change, to see and maybe even get to know your professor really well. Now, that’d be a first.
  • Summer courses have a more relaxed atmosphere. Everyone tends to loosen up a little during the summer, ever professors. Some might shed their tweed jackets or pencil skirts and show up in shorts. Whether these are fashion faux pas or not, what’s not to like about a more lad-back instructor?
  • You’ll get a more intensive study of a subject. Summer courses run for six weeks, which is fewer than half the number of weeks of the regular semester, with classes meeting several hours every day. As a result, you get a rare chance to truly concentrate on the subject you’re studying, which is great if you’re really interested in the topic of the course.
  • You can tame requirements that are difficult for you. Some students who have trouble managing the math and science requirements find that it can help to take summer courses. That’s because students usually take only one course per summer session and can have an easier time learning the material when they don’t have to get their mind around other subjects at the same time.

Sound great? Ready to trade in your summer in paradise for the lecture hall of the Student Center? Now consider the cons:

  • It’s too intensive. Summer courses are very compressed: They almost always meet three hours a day, three days a week. For some people, having class and homework every day as well as quizzes and tests due at more frequent intervals is just more than they can happily swallow.
  • You might not get the regular faculty. Many faculty members, especially the well-paid ones, don’t want to be bothered teaching summer courses. So it’s quite possible that there are folks teaching summer courses that aren’t on the regular staff—and might not be as qualified as the regular staff (think faculty from other colleges in Albany).
  • Summer school costs extra. You’ve already paid thousands and thousands of dollars for fall and spring (and, at ACPHS, can take as many courses as you like then). So why pay extra? Tuition is $973 per credit hour and housing is $840 per session.
  • You deserve a break today. After two long semesters, you may be much in need of some R&R. In this case, you may want to give summer courses a pass. Don’t worry: No one will hold it against you. And you’ll still finish in the six years you had planned.

For more advice on taking summer courses, please contact your respective Peer Mentor or any Peer Mentor Coordinator. Thanks in advance!

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