COLUMN: Summer classes do help, but some can be too easy or rushed
- Yes 33%
- No 67%
3 total votes.
“Get ahead, stay on track or catch up.”
I was hearing that a lot leading up to the summer semester. It makes sense, though. The phrase is essentially the summer semester’s motto, luring students into spending his or her well-earned break pursuing academics as opposed to a less-studious endeavors.
I am among the students persuaded to take summer classes this semester. I’m taking a French class right now and a political science course this summer. It really did seem a good idea when I was enrolling. It was a nice way to get ahead, stay on track and catch up, provided it’s possible to do all three.
My concern with the summer session, having almost completed my very first summer course, is that perhaps it is too laid back. I’ve taken into consideration that classes are typically less formal the fewer students enrolled. Since the session boasts smaller class sizes on its website, it’s to be assumed that these classes will be less formal. I’m fine with that. I’m don’t enjoy stuffy classrooms anyway. What I’m most concerned with is how lax the environment is.
Perhaps it was just the class I’m taking, but I sort of feel like I’m getting three hours of credit for doing absolutely nothing. That’s not a blow at my teacher. The professor was wonderful and taught very well, but it just seemed like there wasn’t much to teach. And what there was to teach, they couldn’t exactly do very thoroughly in such a limited time period.
I also feel like very little was expected out of myself and my classmates. Speaking to other summer session students, this seems to be the general consensus of the quality of the classes. They’re brushed off as simply easy ways to get credits and make A’s.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure students don’t always maintain a 4.0 GPA for the semester, but in my experience, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch that many students would actually make the above average grade.
Basically I’m concerned that I’ve spent almost $2,000 on classes from which I’m not taking anything. I think some people would jump at the opportunity to simply pay for good grades, but I’m expecting a little more from education and, frankly, for my money. I’m not trying to say that’s what summer session entails because it’s certainly not and it’s an insult to say otherwise, but I think that is almost the reputation it has gained by being so incredibly laid back.
I’m advocating for summer classes that are longer. I believe longer classes would alleviate a lot of the problems associated with the classes. OU seems to pride itself on the block schedule classes and being able to conceivably take 12 hours during the semester without taking more than one class at a time. While that all sounds good in theory, it really isn’t. You end up with extremely informal classes where neither the professors nor the students really know how or what to teach in such a small time period.
Yes, I am aware they are supposed to teach the material they would teach in any other class during a normal semester, but it’s just so hard to actually follow through with that.
During a normal semester, you would typically only be taught a few concepts a day. After the class, at least in the other French classes I’ve taken, you would be assigned homework to emphasize the concepts and come back the next day ready to learn something new. In the summer classes, every concept is stacked, and before you have to reinforce the first concept you’ve been taught, another is added.
Typically, the new concept requires a mastery of the old in order to master it itself. You can't master the old concept in that time period, thus you can’t master the new one, either. It almost sets you up for disaster. Either the professor simply moves on and leaves befuddled students to suffer in their confusion or the professor takes the time to do exercises and homework in class, which is essentially a waste of the few hours of precious class time they have a week.
The summer session does stick true to it’s motto in the end, though. Regardless of the rushed nature of the classes, they do allow students to “get ahead, stay on track or catch up.” So while I may have complaints, I can’t say I didn’t get exactly what I was promised. Truthfully, I’m not even upset with my decision. So far it’s been a good way to spend my summer, with just a few minor issues with the way summer session in run in general.
Paighten Harkins is a journalism sophomore.