Students challenged by condensed summer classes

Mike Davies:  Roving Editor  Ω

While many take advantage of the heat and sunshine of a Kamloops summer by getting out for camping trips, relaxing on the beach, heading to the lake, or taking on some of the region’s world-class golf courses, others choose to instead take advantage of TRU’s summer programs and classes.

Some take summer classes to do as the school’s summer semester slogan suggests—to catch up or get ahead—while others, like many international students, simply do it because they’re here anyway—and they’re here for school, so why wouldn’t they?

While summer courses are worth the same number of credits as a fall or winter course, the curriculum is condensed to be taught over a two-month span instead of a regular four-month semester, so the learning curve is much steeper, as philosophy major Rod McCabe found out the hard way.

“I won’t be doing it again, that’s for sure,” McCabe said emphatically.  He is taking summer courses for the first time this year.

“It doesn’t give you enough time to let the information sink in and process,” he added, explaining that you really need time to think about the concepts and ideas being taught rather than “just constantly being fed information.”

He admitted that he could see it being useful for other programs, however.

“I guess it would depend on what you’re taking, but for philosophy I think you need to cover it slower so you can fully think on what you’re taking in—that’s what philosophy is, after all—and with summer classes being as compressed as they are, you don’t have the necessary time to think about what you’re learning so you can really learn it.”

While McCabe sees the compression of the class content as a negative, others see it as a chance to get the same amount done in less time.

It is true that when a student takes summer classes, “every class is like a week worth of a regular semester—and then another week worth two days later,” as McCabe pointed out, and students Chelsea Stark and Sultan Alhoemid agree.

Studying hard in Old Main on a Sunday afternoon, the pair echoed McCabe’s sentiments.

“I’m doing it [taking summer courses] so I’ll get it done sooner,” said Stark, saying that she’ll keep taking summer courses to complete her program in less time, “but it’s way harder because it’s all jammed together.”

“Science classes are especially hard,” agreed Alhoemid, “because there are so many terms and so much memorization.”

Environmental science student Amy Simcox—who will be graduating from her program later this month—did a few summers of learning while earning her degree at TRU, however hers was a different circumstance.

“It was mostly field work,” she said, “which gave me important real-world training in my field while I was learning, so I found it extremely useful.”

In her case she didn’t have to choose to either get outside to enjoy the weather or continuing her education—she got to do both, which was part of the appeal.

Last summer she managed to score one of the few paid positions for students available through her program, so her summer of continued education was sort of like a summer job, as well.

She developed a research proposal and received a grant for the project, which helped her earn her honours degree completion requirements while also giving her a sneak preview of what the world of scientific research will be like once she graduates.

“It was really a great opportunity both educationally and professionally,” she said.

So from The Omega to all of you: enjoy your summer—whether outside or in—but buckle down if you’re in class, because they really load it on you in a hurry.

If you’re working hard to pay for school this fall instead of either of the options discussed here—good on ya, and we’ll see you in September.