As your students come toward the end of Spring Break, they will have access to their midterm grades, and once they get back to campus they will begin the process of meeting with their academic advisers to plan their Fall 2012 coursework. Putting on my academic adviser hat for a moment, I want to share a few thoughts on Wake Forest’s Summer Session, which is one of the great opportunities for our students.
There are a few reasons that I typically tell my advisees to consider attending our summer session:
1. If there is a class they received a C- or lower on, and they want to retake it for a better grade (but I caution them, ONLY retake that class if they are certain they will do better!)
2. If there is a class coming up that they know will be very challenging for them, and they want to give it their undivided attention (away from the regular semester filled with their friends, social activities, and other distractions). If you feel like you are a very weak math student and you have been putting off taking Math 111 (which many perceive to be a tough class), taking it in the summer will mean that is your only area of focus – increasing your chance of succeeding in it.
3. If a student is “under” the number of credit hours he/she should be at this point of the college career. We require 120 credit hours to graduate, which breaks out into 15 credit hours a semester for 8 semesters (4 years). Some of our students elect to take fewer than 15 hours a semester, for a variety of reasons: they wanted to ease in gently the first year of college and ensure a successful transition, or they were pledging a fraternity or sorority this semester and wanted to take a lighter load while they balance out the new social opportunities, they are a student-athlete and needed a lighter load to account for their practice schedule, and/or there are learning disabilities or medical conditions that made it more advantageous to slow the pace of their requirements.
4. If the student wants to get a jump start on his or her major. This might allow a student the chance to have an internship or other special project at the latter portion of their time here.
5. If the student wants to complete his/her language requirements more quickly – there are some programs over the summer that are intensive that will allow completion of two courses in one abbreviated session.
6. If the student is considering a semester abroad and plans to choose a major that has sequential coursework that might require him or her to consider going abroad in the summer, or perhaps before the junior year. Majors such as biology, chemistry, music, and business could fall into this category, and students in those areas might wish to take care of more basic and divisional requirements in the summer so they can do a semester abroad before jumping into their major. Note that students in this category should speak with the Office of Academic Advising, the Center for International Studies, and their prospective major department as soon as possible to ensure they can go abroad at a time that works for their schedule and major.
These are just some of my reasons. There are some great testimonials on the Summer Session site that say (better than I can) all the benefits of attending, as well as a news story on Summer Session. If this seems applicable to your student’s situation, urge him or her to consider Summer Session.