Summer Course Survivor
June 24, 2015
by: Meg Ruggiero
The flowers are blooming, the temperatures are rising, and the sun is shining. This can only mean one thing: Summer classes are in session.
For many students, summer classes are a great way to either catch-up on a class or two or to get ahead before the fall semester. Summer classes can be deceiving, though. Although most summer courses last for only five weeks, students are still responsible for absorbing a semester’s worth of information, while also producing effective assignments. Cramming 15 weeks of knowledge into a five-week course definitely creates a fast-paced learning experience.
While most students take only one or two classes per session, the intensity of these courses can result in a busy study schedule and stressful summer days. If a summer course is writing-intensive, then the amount of writing a student is expected to produce can quickly become daunting, especially on such a tight schedule. So, how can you survive a summer course? Or, how can you keep up with a packed course calendar and draft schedule? Check out the tips below to position yourself for success in your classes this summer!
Tips for Summer Success
Go to class: This may seem obvious, but it’s important to commit yourself to consistent attendance if you enroll in a summer course. Since most classes meet for longer periods or more frequently than fall or spring classes, the amount of material covered in these classes can be quite significant, and missing too many classes will result in you falling behind on your assignments and missing important information. For writing-intensive courses, missing class can also mean missing peer review or draft development, which will negatively impact your growth as a writer. Setting a routine early in the semester for class days will help you reduce the number of missed classes.
Don’t procrastinate: With the beautiful Boone summer right outside the window, it’s very tempting to give into the procrastination impulse, but as tough as it may be, you must resist this temptation. A course’s five-week time frame simply doesn’t offer time for putting off any type of assignment. In a process writing course, delaying one step in the writing process can cause you to fall behind in draft development, making the process all the more stressful and overwhelming, which ultimately stifles your writing. Succeeding in a summer writing course requires you to make time for writing and to stay on schedule. Setting personal deadlines to supplement the course calendar and breaking large assignments into more manageable tasks are great ways to stay on track.
Remember, writing is a process: In process writing courses, your instructor will require you to write more than one perfect final draft, so remind yourself that not every draft must be completely flawless and fully developed. Early drafts are where you develop ideas, as opposed to communicating mature thoughts to an audience. Don’t expect yourself to produce error-free, clear writing too early in the writing process. That being said, do commit to a process despite the busy summer course schedule. Figure out what works for you, and use this routine to make writing more approachable. Establishing your own unique writing process will also encourage you to stay on schedule. Producing an effective final portfolio will be much more manageable if you commit to your writing process and keep up with the course’s drafting sequence.
Stay organized: From course notebooks to smartphone calendars, organization comes in numerous and varied forms. Find an organizational strategy that fits your preferences, and work to develop helpful habits. Keeping up with all your deadlines in one place and having a specific location for course materials are two strategies for organizing yourself during a summer course. Staying organized will reduce your frustration level during the summer semester, as it will cut down on you missing important deadlines and misplacing materials. Also, be sure to backup all your electronic files, especially drafts. Losing documents in a writing class on such a tight schedule can be a devastating occurrence for even the strongest writers.
These are just a few tips to help you succeed in your summer classes. Also, remember that the University Writing Center is open during summer sessions, and our consultants can offer you support at any stage of the writing process, even if you only have 15 or 20 minutes to stop by the UWC.
If you ever find yourself overwhelmed by due dates or doubting your abilities to succeed, remember the inspirational words of Destiny’s Child, urging all of us to continue working through our struggles:
I‘m a survivor! (What?)
I’m not gon’ give up! (What?)
I’m not gon’ stop! (What?)
I’m gon’ work harder! (What?)
I’m a survivor! (What?)
I’m gonna make it! (What?)
I will survive! (What?)
Keep on survivin’! (What?)