Austin Anderson wakes up at 5:50 a.m., goes running, eats a healthy breakfast, then jets off to class.
As a sophomore in mechanical engineering, he feels summer classes at the U have helped him develop a healthier lifestyle. This summer he’s enrolled in a math class and “History of Rock and Roll.” He even admits to enjoying school over the break.
“Because I’m a nerd, that’s why,” he said.
With his major, Anderson would need to take 17.5 credits during Fall and Spring Semesters in order to graduate when he wants. By taking summer classes he lightens the load for the following semesters. Another positive factor is being able to give his undivided attention to one class. Over the school year, Anderson balances work on top of a full class schedule and finds it difficult to be completely dedicated to each class.
But the benefits of summer school go beyond that. Penny Allison, a U professor in mathematics, teaches a brush-up class for returning students and students close to graduating. She said the stress during summer classes “isn’t so horrendous.”
Allison feels the students in summer classes are also less competitive but more serious about learning the material. They tend to know what they want and ask many questions in a comfortable setting, which helps students learn better. She also believes students taking summer classes tend to be more motivated overall, since the students are taking classes in place of a summer break.
According to the U’s Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis, although there was no significant difference between the GPAs of students who take summer classes and those who do not, some students do take summer classes in order to strengthen their GPA overall.
David Tolman, a sophomore in computer science, is enrolled in a full course load of summer classes in order to graduate sooner. He said taking classes over the summer will also increase his GPA once the semester finishes.
The budget office reports most undergraduates enrolled in summer courses are seniors, and the number of undergraduates enrolled during summer semester increases with each academic year. Almost all of the students enrolled at the U in the summer are taking general education courses.
Amanda Johnson, a student working toward her master’s degree in earth science and physics, works full time throughout the school year, which causes her to take a lighter course load during Fall and Spring Semesters. Summer Semesters are when she takes a full course load because her job at the Canyon Crest School District does not require as much time.
Johnson has been taking summer classes for three summers in a row to finish her master’s in less than five years.
“Only the super motivated would take classes in the summer,” Johnson said.
She describes summer classes as having fewer projects but more tests. The classes tend to be more rigorous because they must cover the same amount of material in a shorter amount of time.
Johnson said the beautiful weather is an easy distraction, but she doesn’t regret the dedication to her education.
“It’s what enabled me to do my major and get my degree in four years,” Johnson said.