Summer Classes: Great for your GPA and your State of Mind

I took summer classes because I wanted to graduate in 3 and 1/2 years (for financial reasons). While I could have feasibly finished my B.A. in that amount of time by only taking classes during the fall and spring semesters, I wanted to lighten my course load for the typical academic year. So, I decided that taking summer classes would be a wise decision.

I turned out to be right--it was a very wise decision. As a triple major with a lot of extracurricular interests, I am always extremely busy during the typical academic year. However, my commitments and responsibilities are generally more manageable during the summer months. As a result, I have more time and energy to devote to the commitments and responsibilities that I do have. During the summer of 2010, I took two classes (3 credit hours each) and I was able to become deeply immersed in both. Due to my immersion, I felt that I had an easier time writing papers, working on presentations, and preparing for tests for these classes than I had had for classes I had taken during the typical academic school year. Consequently, I ended up doing very well in both classes.

Yet, I think that summer classes should not only be seen as advantageous to your GPA. There are a variety of other reasons summer classes are great; in addition to the boost they can give your GPA, summer classes are also beneficial because they are (typically) smaller in size and more laid back than classes during the typical academic year.

Personally, I think the smaller class sizes were wonderful because they gave me the opportunity to get to know my professors well, and vice versa. This gave me the opportunity to get a spectacular, detailed, personal letter of recommendation for law school at the end of the summer semester from one of the professors. It also allowed me to ask questions and participate in class discussions more frequently, and contact my professors more easily, during the course of the semester. In light of this, I feel that I was able to gain a lot from both of my summer classes.

I also feel that the laid back environment of the classes made the classes more enjoyable. Since campus is not as populated during the summer, the professors seemed to be more at ease and more approachable than usual. Although I have always had a great experience with IU professors during the typical academic year, I felt that, like myself, the professors had less responsibilities and commitments to attend to during the summer; and I think that this allowed them to relax a little as well.

All in all, I had a fantastic experience at IU during the summer of 2010. I would highly recommend summer classes to anyone who is looking to get ahead (or catch up) in their academics. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to get some classes out of the way while I had less commitments and more attention to devote to the material. I definitely felt more relaxed during the summer term than I ever have during the academic year, and I think my GPA did benefit as a result. Moreover, getting 6 credit hours completed during the summer did make my academic year's course load lighter. Therefore, I felt more relaxed throughout the subsequent academic year as well.

On a related note, during the summer of 2011, I studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland and I really enjoyed that experience as well. For those of you who do not have time to spend an entire semester abroad, I highly encourage you to consider studying abroad during the summer, before ruling out the possibility of overseas study entirely. I will remember my time in Dublin for the rest of my life, and I am so thankful that I took the opportunity when it arose.

To make a long story short: Take summer classes at IU, and consider spending a summer abroad as well. You will not regret either decision.

Name: Breanna C.
Hometown: Glenview, IL
Major: Communication & Culture; Criminal Justice; Philosophy