Making summer matter

A student takes advantage of the shade to do some studying at Montclair State University.
A student takes advantage of the shade to do some studying at Montclair State University.

As the air conditioners hum and drip, the summer months in New York can be hot enough to send anyone running indoors. Jamie Bilella, president of the North American Association of Summer Sessions — and dean at Montclair State University — says that while beating the heat, students of all types can benefit from summer classes that will round out their schedule and help them achieve their educational goals.

Take on a challenge. It can seem counter-intuitive, but Bilella says summer is an ideal time to tackle that tough course students may have been avoiding. “There may be one course that students are intimidated by, and the summer is an ideal time to take it,” Bilella says. Because students often take fewer courses at a time in the summer months, he says “they can focus all of their energy on that challenge.”

Explore. For students who want to think outside their major, summer can be a great time to do it. Bilella suggests that students who didn’t get into the class they were coveting, or who want to try a new elective outside of their focus of study should think about the summer. Also, if students have a course required for their major that they didn’t get to take during the year, summer sessions can fill that gap so that they can start the fall semester with their degree requirements on track

Get on it. Bilella says the No. 1 mistake people make regarding summer sessions is to miss out on them until later in their academic career. “Unfortunately, freshmen don’t pay attention to the summer offerings until they’re juniors,” he says. “They should recognize the opportunities of summer and winter early on.”

Stay on track. Graduating on time is good for the bottom line — and taking a summer course can help make that happen. “Maybe you’re looking to catch up because you didn’t take a heavy course load for a few semesters, or you want to get ahead to take advantage of a study abroad opportunity or focus on an internship,” he says. “Summer makes it possible to stay on track to graduation.”


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