For many students, summer is an end to beautiful days entirely spent in the library. No more sleep deprivation, and no more “I can’t go out tonight.” It’s a chance to relax, sun-bathe or simply regain sanity.
For Natasha Kothari, a Kansas University junior from Overland Park studying premedicine, summer was a chance to make her life easier in the fall. She wanted to lighten her course load this year to concentrate on her MCAT exams. So instead of lounging at the pool with her friends summer, Kothari took three chemistry classes.
“I’m pretty much the most terrifyingly busy person ever,” she said during the summer session. “Or maybe just the most pitiful student at KU right now.”
Diann Burright, interim director of the KU University Advising Center, said students take summer classes for a variety of reasons. Some students use summer school to get back on track after a disappointing year, while others need to take classes in the summer that are prerequisites for classes only offered in the fall. Burright said it simply makes sense for some students to stick around for the summer semester because they don’t have jobs or their leases haven’t ended.
Kelsey Perez, student assistant at KU’s College of Liberal Arts and Science, said students who are a few credit hours shy of their degree can participate in May’s graduation ceremonies if they fulfill the graduation requirements the following summer.
Summer classes, which last either one or two months, come with a faster pace and higher intensity than regular fall or spring classes. Summer classes generally last longer each day and meet more often. Burright said some students struggle with the continuous assignments, while others flourish under the structure and narrowed focus of summer school.
Margaret Bayer, associate chair of KU’s math department, said certain math courses provide a smaller learning environment during the summer; she gave an example of a class with 33 students enrolled during the summer compared with 600 in the spring. She says she has seen some students do better in summer school than they do during the regular year.
“A lot of students take one or two classes and then really dedicate themselves,” Bayer said.
In addition to courses offered at KU’s Lawrence and Edwards campuses, students also have the chance to study abroad during the summer. The university offers 35 study abroad programs, and 606 students studied abroad this past summer, according to Nancy Chaison, assistant director of KU Study Abroad. She said Europe and Argentina were popular destinations.
Burright said she thought summer classes were an under-utilized resource, and many courses are not being filled. In addition to helping students graduate on time, she said, students get to experience Lawrence during the summer while taking classes.
“Lawrence in the summer has a different vibe, and campus has a different kind of energy,” she said. “That feeling ends up in the classroom.”