Maybe you've never taken the opportunity to consider the advantages of enrolling in summer courses at Eastern Illinois University, but Jill Barnes and Jessica Klaus have. Each student's story could serve as an eye-opener to contemporaries who don't realize what a difference a handful of summer classes can make.
Barnes, a student in the dietetics master's degree program, earned seven credit hours last summer, all during the first four-week session. That work, combined with this summer's internship in Decatur, will allow her to complete the necessary 36 hours for her graduate degree without returning to campus in the fall for more classes.
"We can only start internships at a certain time, and I wanted to make sure I started mine on time," said Barnes, who earned her bachelor's degree at the University of Minnesota. "In order to do that, I needed to get all my credits finished in two semesters. With the summer classes, I broke it up a little and avoided a huge course load at any one time. It just went a lot smoother and allowed me to focus more on each class rather than struggling through a heavier course load."
Klaus also took her summer classes to expedite her schooling; thanks in part to those efforts, the political science major will graduate in May — just three years receiving her high school diploma.
"My advisor told me that if I took two summer classes at some point, I could graduate in three years instead of four," said Klaus, who also took a number of advanced placement (AP) courses during high school. "Last summer I was down here as an EIU Debut leader, and there were two online classes available that fit into my major. It was convenient and allowed me to graduate early without having to kill myself with extra classes during any semester."
Each student obviously found summer classes not only beneficial, but enjoyable as well.
"I would recommend it if you're in a very strenuous program," said Barnes. "You can focus more on one class at a time. Working with smaller classes is more relaxed and leads to more one-on-one interaction with the teachers. That can be helpful in really learning a subject.
"For a new person in the area like me, it also helped me meet some new people. For instance, I took a wine tasting class. There were faculty members and people from the community who just wanted to take it. There are only 14 dietetics students in our program, so I see the same 14 people every day during the regular semesters. This helped me branch out, which is nice since I'm still pretty new to the area."
"It's great for students looking to graduate early," adds Klaus. "It's also good if you have a difficult time dealing with a lot of credit hours in one semester and just want to spread things out. It doesn't have to be to get ahead, it can be just to stay on pace."