Get stories and expert advice on all things related to college and parenting.
College Preparedness: Recovering from the PandemicSuzanne Shaffer
Last summer in the middle of the pandemic, I enrolled my son (an incoming freshman) in college algebra. It’s a requirement for his major and I thought he would benefit from “easing into” college with one class — he’d learn how to navigate a class online and gain confidence taking a course in a subject he enjoyed in high school.
Truthfully, I was concerned that his first semester would be challenging as he juggled a new environment (which would include social distancing and wearing masks) along with the expectations of intensive classes. I wanted him to feel less overwhelmed.
Plus, I wasn’t really excited for him to sit around the house all summer playing Minecraft, even if that kept him safe. I also wanted to set the tone that summers are no longer solely about fun and games, but can and should be an integral part of getting ready for life after graduation.
As an educator who teaches first-year students how to plan their degrees so they can graduate on time, it sometimes takes a little nudging to get them to see summer as more than just a break for travel or work. But summer can be so much more if your student is willing to dedicate a little time to continue learning.
One reason a majority of students who earn a bachelor’s degree don’t finish in four years is that they’re not able to complete enough credit hours each semester to stay on track.
Taking classes in the summer can give them a credit-hour cushion in case they need to drop a class or in the unfortunate event they fail a class.
Taking one or two classes during a shorter term also allows your student to focus on limited subject matter, improve their GPA, and practice academic skills that can help them build long-term confidence.
Taking a summer class requires planning, though. Here are some tips for making the most of the summer term:
Summer classes can also help your student home in on specific academic skills that need strengthening, especially if they struggled in a similar class previously.
Here are ways your student can use the summer to improve those skills:
If your student needs to work during the summer, or has a great opportunity for an internship or travel, then of course encourage them to do that. However, if they have the time to use summer for moving ahead in their degree, catching up or improving their skills, help them see summer as the key to their college success.
When your college student starts their first semester, it’s not just a big deal for them. It’s a big deal for you, too.