ts spring, and a young persons fancy lightly turns to
thoughts of...well, that too, but what we had in mind was summer
Iowa students stay on campus each summer to take courses that vary
from three weeks to six or eight weeks in duration. These courses
can supplement major courses, fulfill special interests, or make
it possible to stay on track for graduation in four years.
For four years,
The University of Iowa has offered the three different sessions
with different goals for the student.
session begins immediately after the close of examination week in
the spring. In 14 intensive days (the 15th day would be Memorial
Day), students attend class for 2 1/2 hours a day every day and
work at home extensively.
fairly demanding," says Douglas Lee, associate director of
administration in the Office of the Provost. "Students cant
let work slide because they couldnt catch up. Every day equals
a week in normal schedules."
professor and head of the English Department, says the three-week
intensive courses work well with some subjects but not well at all
for others. "It wouldnt work if you wanted to teach a
survey course on the novel, because its not reasonable to
ask students to read a whole novel every night after 2 1/2 hours
in class. But they can read seven to eight short stories a night,
so in a three-week period, starting at a blistering pace and keeping
it up for 14 days, you can cover 100 short stories.
16-week course, if you were reading that number of short stories,
toward the end it would be hard to remember numbers 5-10, for example,"
Landon says. "But in a three-week course, you read them just
four or five days ago, so its much easier to carry the content
with you and use it to contextualize the stories youre reading
downside," Landon adds, "at the end of the three weeks
I am exhausted and the students are exhausted. Talking for 2 1/2
hours a day, even in conversation, means that my voice is gone in
the third week. And God help you if you get sick! I tell the students
that they simply cannot miss a class in a three-week course."
of his three-week courses have convinced Landon that theyre
worthwhile. Students say they do better in three-week courses because
theyre able to focus only on one course. "The courses
have the intensity of a 100-yard dash, rather than the pace of a
marathon," he says.
Rollins, a senior English major with a classics minor, took the
popular Quest for Human Destiny course in a three-week session.
"I chose Quest because Professor Jay Holstein was teaching.
I have had other classes taught by him and find him to be an excellent
teacher. This class was a treat to myself after a rough semester.
I would not take a class I didnt like in the summer semester,
unless it was a necessity."
Lee says the
University wanted to provide more flexibility for both students
and faculty when it instituted the three-week session four years
students have to work in the summer to finance part of their education,"
he says. "This years three-week session starts May 15
and ends June 2, so they still have 10 weeks to earn money or complete
an internship before the fall semester begins."
A Solution for Teachers
summer session, which begins 18 days after the three-week session
closes, was designed to accommodate K-12 teachers coming to the
College of Education for course work. Summer sessions that begin
in May or early June wont work for them if their school has
had snow days or other schedule delays because theyd still
be teaching when classes began.
While it started
as a solution for teachers, six-week courses now exist in all undergraduate
colleges: liberal arts, business, engineering, and nursing.
Is Most Popular
session, Iowas traditional summer school, begins in early
June, two days after the three-week session ends. "Its
still where we have the most classes and the most students,"
Even the eight-week
class is compressed, compared with 16-week sessions during the school
year. "I loved having class every day," says April Kopps,
a double major in biology and music performance (saxophone), who
took a required Principles of Chemistry course with a lab session
last summer. "I also enjoyed getting to know the professor
better in a smaller class. He seemed more comfortable, too. The
class seemed to be geared toward making students learn, as opposed
to lecturing over the material to anyone sitting there. It was more
personal. I loved it."
she hasnt taken a three-week course. "It would be really
scary," she says. "In some ways it would be less of a
learning process and more short-term retention."
She is considering
taking more summer courses because theyll be necessary in
order to graduate within five years. "However, the summer is
also a perfect opportunity for internshipswhich is what Im
doing this summer," she adds.
a junior in linguistics/anthropology, is a veteran of summer courses
at Des Moines Area Community College, which he attended before he
transferred to Iowa this semester. Hes planning a summer course
this year because he works part-time and participates in extra-curricular
activities, so summer school allows him to keep his academic career
on track without overloading his schedule during the rest of the
be taking foreign language courses this summer in order to retain
what he has learned over the past year. "A three-month break
could be a bane to second language acquisition," Wolfe says.
a second-year mechanical engineering student from Cedar Rapids,
enrolled in a challenging engineering course last summer. "The
experience is different from taking the course during the school
year," he says. "I worried that I would not be able to
focus enough on it with other things going on in the fall. Sure,
it was more intense, but I had fewer things to worry about outside
of class. That made the whole experience more relaxing than a regular
says hed consider a three-week course, but only for a 1- or
2-semester-hour course that would be "too pesky for a full
a three-hour class in three weeks is pretty risky, though,"
11,773 students attended one of the three summer sessions. Attendance
has increased every year since 1995, and Lee wont be surprised
if its over 12,000 this summer.
And why is
summer session relevant to parents? Lee says there are several reasons:
session is a great way to speed up time to degree. Lees
records show that four-year graduation rates for students who
have attended summer sessions to be about 42 percent while those
who havent attended summer school come in around 20 percent.
Five-year graduation rates for summer participants is 73 percent
compared to about 35 percent for students who havent attended.
students can take up to four hours of courses in a summer term
and pay only the resident tuition. The Universitys tuition
payment scale does not differentiate between resident and non-resident
tuition until a student takes more than four hours of courses.
- The University
has a number of intensive foreign language courses in the summer.
A student can complete up to one years requirement.
- The Office
of Study Abroad has agreements with universities in other countries
that allow students to take courses abroad in a wide variety of
fields for the same as, or just a little more than, the tuition
and living costs the student would pay at Iowa.
- Class sizes
typically are smaller in the summer, so students can receive more
individual attention in a course that might be difficult for them.
a biology major who took two chemistry classes in one summer period,
says she learned a lot about time management while getting through
an extremely stressful time.
from the actual learning process, the classes are smaller and you
get much personal attention," she says. "This gives students
a better opportunity to meet professors who may be helpful in building
résumés in the future.
met a lot of people in my classes who I still keep in contact with.
I think that taking summer classes puts you in an environment where
people have the same desire to learn and are very serious students,
which gave me the opportunity to meet people similar to myself."
are strong academic reasons to go to summer school, wed better
not neglect another major motivator. Summer in Iowa City is fun,
with festivals, bands playing on street corners, lots of opportunities
for outdoor sports and recreation, and both professors and students
in T-shirts and shorts.
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