7 Strategies to Ace Your Summer Classes
Once a student enters high school, it is very common for them to spend a summer or two taking classes to get ahead on their high school/college curriculum. By taking low-level required courses of the summer, high school students can spend their school year taking more advanced classes that could boost their GPA and look good on their college resume.
In addition, many students will attend their local community college and take introductory college classes because taking classes at a community college now is much cheaper than paying tuition for those same classes at a 4-year university later.
Regardless of why you’re taking summer classes or what classes you’re taking, you want to do well in those classes and get as high of a grade as possible. Given the accelerated rate of teaching and learning in summer classes, you need to adopt different learning techniques and study strategies to do well in your summer classes. Here are some strategies that will help you ace your classes this summer.
Set Goals For Yourself
It’s really easy to feel lazy over the summer break and not take your classes as seriously. This is especially easy when the class you’re taking doesn’t directly impact your high school GPA, like when you take a community college class.
However, for those few weeks that you are taking classes, you really do need to just buckle down and study hard. That’s easy enough once you get back in the groove of being in school and taking classes, but the key is to motivate yourself to get back into that mindset.
One way to motivate yourself to do well in your summer classes is to make a list of goals for your classes. Don’t just keep it in your head–write your goals down and stick it on your mirror if you have to. Use these goals to keep yourself accountable while your class is happening and to make sure that you are on top of everything.
Come Prepared to Learn on the First Day
Summer classes do not work like regular classes. The first day is not a relatively easy syllabus day where you don’t learn anything. Because of the accelerated schedule that summer classes teach on, you’re going to be learning at least a chapter or two of material on the first day.
Thus, you need to walk into class on the first day with a notebook, binder, and writing utensils or your laptop/tablet, ready to take detailed notes and ready to learn. Getting behind by even one day during summer classes can drastically set you behind in the class, as the teacher will not have time to go back and review the material at all. You will be moving onto new topics the very next day.
If you’re taking a class during the summer like P.E. or something that doesn’t require you to take notes, just make sure that you come properly dressed on the first day. The last thing you want to do is run laps in jeans.
Seek Help Immediately (If You Need It)
Summer classes move fast simply because the teachers have less time to get through the same material that they would during the school year. This means that there is usually no such thing as a review day or going back to concepts previously covered.
What this means is that if you don’t understand a concept, you need to go and talk to your teacher or professor on the day that you get confused on a concept and get it sorted out right then and there. Typically, there won’t be time later during class or before the exam for you to ask questions.
Mark Your Calendar With All The Important Dates and Deadlines
The unfortunate thing about summer classes is that even though the classes don’t last as long, you have the same amount of exams as you would during the semester. This means that, for some classes, you will be having an exam every other week, perhaps even weekly.
It’s important to know these important exam dates, homework deadlines, and project deadlines ahead of time so that they don’t sneak up on you during the class. All of the dates and deadlines you will need to know will probably be on the syllabus given to you on the first day, so you can mark your calendars immediately once you have that information.
Don’t Wait To Buy The Textbook
This is especially important for college-level courses, where the textbook readings often provide half of the material that you will need to know for the exam. Many students during a regular semester will wait until the first day to see what textbooks they need and purchase them accordingly via Amazon or at their local bookstore.
The problem with doing this over the summer is that you’re going to have assigned readings on that very first night. Unless your local bookstore has the textbook in stock on that day, you’re going to have to wait a few days for your textbook to be shipped. By then, you will be behind on multiple chapters worth of material.
Thus, if your teacher or professor gives you the textbook information for the course ahead of time, just go ahead and buy the book. In the best case scenario, you are prepared on day one and can keep up with the fast pace of the course. In the worst case scenario, you don’t end up using the textbook and sell it for a profit.
Form a Study Group
A great way to know that you’ve mastered a concept is to be able to explain it somebody else. A study group would give you the opportunity to do just that. You get to test your knowledge by explaining concepts discussed in class to your peers, and they reciprocate in kind by explaining concepts that you struggle with and giving you the help that you need.
Since summer classes move fast, you and your study group should meet at least twice a week. That way, you’ll be reviewing the material as it is taught to you, not cramming the concepts into your brain a few days before the exam.
If You’re Retaking a Class, Focus on the Areas You Had Trouble With
So far, we’ve been assuming that you’re taking a summer class to get ahead. However, sometimes students take classes because they failed a class previously and need to retake the course in order to graduate. If that is the case, don’t worry. Plenty of students do that, and as long as you buckle down and do well this summer, you should be okay.
However, as you’re going through the material for the second time, put a lot of extra study time and focus on the concepts that you did not grasp the first time. Since you’re re-learning most of this material, you’ll be able to comprehend the easier concepts in no time.
The harder concepts you didn’t grasp the first time will take some extra study time and practice outside of class to finally understand and learn. So, when you’re studying, make sure to focus on the areas that you had trouble with.
For More Information
Need some more ideas on things you can do this summer to boost your college applications? Check out these previous blog posts:
Feeling like you need a little boost in high school? Check out CollegeVine’s Neer Peer Mentorship Program, where you will be matched with a successful college student who is on the same path you are when it comes to your academic, career, and college goals. This mentor will meet with you and your parents to provide helpful advice on all topics from college admissions to career goals, and they’ll make sure that you are poised to succeed throughout high school.