Summer semester approaching fast: Tips for getting ahead in your schoolwork

Brittany Webb

Staff Writer


As summer approaches, many students look forward to the break, though some look to catch up or get ahead in their studies.  The summer semester at Parkland runs from May 18 to Aug. 5.  Numerous classes do not run the whole semester and some being are only 3 weeks long.

Counseling and Advising Director John Sheahan wants students to remember these classes will not be easy, as they are paced much faster than a normal semester.

“Remembering that a regular class goes around 16-18 weeks, these classes are going about 5 times as fast,” Sheahan said.  “So if you’re going to take one, you have to know you are going to dedicate your time to it.”

Classes offered range from Intro to Public Speaking (COM103) to Humanities classes to Business Calculus, according to the class schedule on Parkland’s website.  Taylor Lovett, a student currently attending Illinois State University (though she was a dual credit student in high school) will be on campus taking Business Calculus (MAT143).

“Only taking a few classes during the summer helps me focus a lot more on that specific class,” Lovett said.

Students from all over the state take classes through Parkland during the summer, explained Sheahan.  Online courses are popular during the semester, but are even more popular in the summer.

“Online courses are very popular,” Sheahan added. “We’re one of the biggest online providers in the State of Illinois, so it’s not unusual for students from other state universities or community colleges to take some of our online summer courses.”

Online courses are especially hard to focus on in the summer, Sheahan pointed out.  Students must rely on their strengths to get through a summer course.

“If you’re taking a math class during the summer, there may be some pros and cons to it,” Sheahan said.  “It may be the only class you take, but it is going to go twice the pace of a regular class.”

Students must weigh only having one class versus doing intensive work that much faster.  A composition course or a literature course have a lot of reading and writing in a short amount of time, so students must decide if that is a strength to them.

Focusing can be a hard part of summer classes.  Most students would rather spend their time enjoying the warm weather poolside or traveling, so focusing on class during the summer can be challenging.  Mary Corkery, a student in Business, thinks focusing will be the hardest part of her Business Calculus course.

“I think that it will be harder to focus because I will want to do other things, like travel or work,” Corkery said. “But I think it will be easier to do well since it will be all I am focusing on.”

Students should make sure they are not overloading themselves with summer classes.  It’s important to catch up or get ahead, but summer classes are hard to handle in large quantities because of the time constraints and rigor of the courses.

“It’s become a little bit more difficult for us to monitor because of the online classes,”
Sheahan added. “Before we started offering them, students couldn’t overload themselves just because of the class overlap.”

Since so many online classes are offered, Sheahan explained that some students try to take too many classes and aren’t approved to take them.

“The general rule of thumb for summer courses is no more than one credit hour per week of class including any overlapping sessions,” Sheahan said.

According to Sheahan, students who have never taken a summer class tend to greatly underestimate the class load.  Advisors are trained to let students know how much is too much.Summer classes can be found on MyParkland through WebAdvisor or in the catalogues in the Counseling and Advising Office, located in U267.  The Counseling and Advising Center has walk-in appointments and scheduled appointments, and can be reached by phone at 217-351-2219.