What you need to know before starting Summer Classes

If you’re considering summer school or will be attending for the first time this summer, here are our tips for what you need to know before you start.

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After a year of waiting, summer in New Zealand is finally here! There’s plenty for uni students to look forward to during the summertime – you get a chance to relax, gain work experience, earn money, amongst much more. For some students, summer school can be a great option to help you make the most out of your time at university.

If you’re considering summer school or will be attending for the first time this summer, here are our tips for what you need to know before you start.

What is summer school?

Summer school is exactly what it sounds like - it involves taking university courses during the summer. Summer classes are typically shorter than an entire semester and condense a full semester’s worth of material essentially into a few weeks of teaching. 


Why take Summer School?

There are many reasons a university student might choose to take summer school. For some university programmes, summer classes can be an excellent option for those looking to complete their degree faster or lighten their course load for the upcoming year. Summer school can also be an opportunity to retake any courses with unsatisfactory performance. Some New Zealand universities also offer special summer classes for high school leavers starting university in the upcoming year. In this case, summer school can be an excellent opportunity to ease the transition into university.

Summer School Dos and Don’ts

Although much of the content you cover in summer school will be the same as the material covered during the semester, summer school is structured a little differently and might be a little daunting if it’s your first time taking it.

To help you out, here are our Dos and Don’ts for summer school:


DO research your courses carefully.

Planning out which courses you’ll take and when you’ll take them is a tricky balancing act all university students must manage. Throwing summer school into the mix can complicate your degree planning. Still, if you plan it carefully and take suitable courses in summer school, this can significantly affect your course load and when you finish your university degree.

Pro-tip:

  • Spend time researching the courses available and consider all your options before making a final decision.
  • Research the course and consider the benefits of taking this specific summer school paper.
  • Maybe you want to take a tricky paper in summer school because it leaves fewer other courses to study for. You can devote your mental energy towards that paper. And perhaps, maybe a lecturer you like is only teaching that course over the summer.

At the same time, think about how the course affects your degree plan as a whole. Taking the course in the summer will ensure you meet the requirements for other papers you want to take in semester one. Also, if you take your general education course in the summer, maybe you can free up a slot to take another paper during the year.
 

DO organise your time with a calendar.

Good time management skills are essential for all students but are even more critical if you’re taking summer school. Because summer classes run at an accelerated pace, tests and even the final exam creeps up on you before you even know it! Your social calendar is also likely packed during the summer months – between road trips, the beach, and part-time work, there’s plenty to do during the summer, even without uni work. This makes it imperative to manage your time well.

Pro-tips:

  • Use a calendar to mark-in deadlines for critical assessments and your other commitments. This will help give you a clear picture of what’s happening during the summer, including busy and freer periods.
  • During your ‘free’ periods, block in good chunks of time to revise or work on those assignments.

DON’T slack off in lectures.

Every uni student has shown up to a lecture and, instead of paying attention, spent the time drifting off while telling ourselves we’ll catch up with the recording later. dIt’s even easier to be distracted during summer school – the sun is beaming outside, and you’re probably wondering what all your friends are getting up to.

However, it’s crucial to stay switched during your lectures in summer school. Because of their compressed schedule, summer classes usually cover much more content in each lecture. This means that when you lose focus, you miss more content than usual. You also have much less time to study for the exam, so getting all your information from the lecture will save you time combing through recordings later.

DON’T procrastinate.

Many uni students are gifted (or cursed) with the ability to smash out a three-week assignment within the span of one. In summer school, major assignments are spaced much tighter together, and you might only have two weeks or even a few days to work on assignments you’re usually given much more time for. This means that once you get an assignment, you really can’t afford to wait before you get started on it. This also goes for revising. You won’t have as long to study for exams, so the amount of material you have to learn at the end can be overwhelming if you haven’t been consistently revising.

That being said, spending your entire summer hunched over at your desk won’t be productive or enjoyable. Spend your time studying in small effective chunks, but also make sure you take breaks (maybe even get some fresh air) between study sessions. You’ll enjoy your summer more and prevent burnout in the process.

Conclusion

There are plenty of ways to spend your summer in New Zealand. Between ice cream, road trips, and the beach, many uni students also find ways to be productive during their summer. If you’re considering summer school as a way to fast-track or enhance your time at university, we hope this article provided some helpful tips on what you need to know before you get started. Have a great summer!

-  Shannel Milne, Nxtstep Content Writer

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