I know what you’re thinking. School!? In the SUMMER!? After a grueling semester, a little time without classes is a welcome change. But I’m here to tell you not to overlook the potential of a good summer class, it might be the perfect thing to set you up for success during the school year.
Summer classes are a great way to get ahead on basic requirements, especially early in your time at Fairfield. The majority of the courses that run during the summer session are either Magis Core requirements or introductory level courses for specific departments. There are several advantages to completing these classes in a summer session instead of the regular semester.
First, it gives you more available space to take classes that are important to you during the semester. If your major is a smaller program with a diverse array of potential course offerings, the specific class you want to take may only run once or twice in your time here. Getting as many basic requirements out of the way as fast as possible gives you more freedom to build a schedule around the less commonly offered courses you want.
Second, having some extra credits from summer courses can make your semester schedule easier in your later years. Having a few summer credits gives you the freedom to have a future semester where you only take four classes instead of five. Once you get to be a senior and your remaining courses are entirely capstone projects and 3000 level seminars the ability to only take only four courses may be exactly what you need to manage the intensive workload.
Third, summer classes are the perfect way to get a requirement you’ve been dreading over with. Summer classes are condensed into shorter time frames than normal full-semester courses. They are offered in two-week, five-week and six-week durations. Even the longest of these courses is less than half the length of a regular semester. Sure, the work is just as intensive, but you only have to do it for a few weeks instead of a few months. It’s a simple way to knock out core requirements that you aren’t looking forward to. Not a fan of math? Taking your core math requirement over the summer means you only have to think about it for five weeks instead of fourteen. Power through your undesirable requirements so you can spend your semester on the classes that really interest you.
And lastly, summer classes are a great way to try something new. During the semester you might be fully locked in to your own major, but summer can give you the opportunity to discover something else that interests you. You never know when a random class totally outside of your current course of study could have a major impact on the choices you make for the rest of your time here.
I ended up taking my first two summer courses at Fairfield in the summer of 2020. Quite frankly the only reason I did was because the raging pandemic had ruined my other summer plans, and I had nothing better to do. I picked two classes only because the course titles sounded fun, and absolutely no other substantive metrics. The first was an anthropology course; one that went on to become the basis of the anthropology minor I would declare a year later. The second was an economics class, a subject I had never studied before and honestly didn’t think I would like. It turns out I did like it, and the course ended up counting towards one of my majors that I declared later. You don’t really know as a freshman what classes are going to end up being the major useful to the combination of majors and minors you will ultimately graduate with. The summer sessions are a great chance to branch out and try things that you may not have made time for during the semester.
While taking a class in the summer may be the last thing you want to be doing with your vacation time, there are many ways that it can set you up to have an easier and more interesting semester ahead.