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Attending summer term: the advantages and disadvantages

UCC students who need to get back on track so they can graduate on time or students who must work ahead should apply now for summer school.

“I think students should consider what their goal is for taking a class or classes; do they have other obligations that will get in the way, do they have time management skills, and what is the right number of classes for them?” says Melissa (Missy) Olson, the dean of enrollment management at Umpqua Community College.

For those planning to attend UCC in the fall for the first time, the more casual summer term allows them to become familiar with college classes.  “I think summer is a great opportunity for new students to take one or two classes to get a better idea of what it is like to be a college student, especially if they are transitioning directly from high school,” says Marjan Coester, UCC’s director for student engagement. “It benefits non-traditional students returning to education in a similar way.”

Attending summer term also helps students to become accustomed to campus educational technology. “As summer term is going to be online, this gives students time to become comfortable navigating Canvas and Zoom and any other online platforms their instructors are using,” Coester says.  Yet, this also means that students will need working computer and internet access. “Summer term classes will also be online, so it is important that students have access to technology or work with their advisor for resources,” Olson says. Assistance is available through the UCC Foundation.

“I am joining summer classes to get ahead and stay relevant in school between terms,” says Tristan Wusstig, who is currently working on earning an Associate of Art Oregon Transfer degree at UCC and will be transferring to Oregon State University to earn a degree in earth science with an option in geology.

Summer classes can help students cross off general ed requirements in order to better focus on their career classes during the school year. “There are also some programs or classes that have prerequisites, and taking them in the summer will make sure you can continue with your chosen class plan in fall,” Olson says.  Also, according to Coester, summer term is a good time to take classes that get filled quickly during the rest of the school year, as they are more likely to be available in summer.

“Ideally, students should be completing 45 credits in their first year (going fall-winter-spring) which means a 15 credit course load each term. If you want to accelerate your time to completion of your degree, you can do so by taking courses in summer,” Coester says. “On the other hand, if you don’t want to be taking 15 credits (or more) during fall-winter-spring, taking a few courses means you can reduce your credit load for fall-winter-spring to 12 credits.”

Summer term is not for everyone. “The eight-week term also means the workload will be consolidated into a shorter period of time. Students need to make sure they can handle the homework load on top of class times, especially those trying to take a full load,” Olson says.

Something else to consider is the toll on your mind and pocket when taking classes year-round. “Committing yourself to taking classes for four terms back-to-back can be mentally exhausting,” Coester says. “Also, you may have to pay for summer term out of pocket depending on your financial aid award.”

Paying summer term tuition can be a challenge for students, but it mainly depends on the financial aid and their scholarships. “Students who receive financial aid can utilize their Pell grant all four terms,” Olson says. “However, scholarships may be different, as that depends on the donor and the guidelines.”

Generally, summer term classes are of a smaller. “I did attend two summer terms as an undergraduate. I was enrolled full time at a university and decided to take courses at the community college during summer.  It was the best experience ever and to this day I wonder why I didn’t take more classes at the community college,” Coester says. “I really appreciated the small class size, the attention of the instructor, and the interaction between the students. It felt very different from my university classroom experience.”

The deadline for paying for summer classes is July 6.

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