Summer Courses: Fast Track Ahead for Students

Brittany Hayes, Reporter

Barbara Leggat, Director for the Center for Adult and Continuing Education and office of summer studies, said accelerated summer courses offer students study time they may not have during the traditional academic year.

“The advantage for students is that they are typically only taking one class instead of four or five at one time. So that gives students the opportunity to really concentrate on that one class. It may be a class that they are nervous about so they could dedicate all their time and effort to it,” said Leggat. Leggat said students also have the option of retaking courses during the summer to raise their GPAs.

MU offers a variety of courses including on-campus, online, and weekend courses, and there are plenty of resources to help students, she said.

“The other difference is that the office has a presence on campus all summer long so we are a resource for students taking classes whether they are taking it on campus or online. We want students to take advantage of taking online classes over the summer. We have plenty of resources online to ensure that students are successful in this format,” said Leggat.

Students can access a variety of quizzes under the Student Resources tab on eMU to determine if they are prepared to take online or accelerated courses.

“One of the exercises is to identify their learning style. It’s a questionnaire, and by completing it they can identify their strengths and their weaknesses and how they could adjust their learning style to be successful in the online format. We also have ‘Are You Ready for Online Learning?’
We have the help desk which is available on campus as well to assist students with issues,” said Leggat.

Leggat added that students often perform even better than they expect in online classes because this generation of students is extremely tech savvy.

“They know how to learn in that environment. They’ve been doing it a lot longer than many of our adults. They are very tech-savvy. They can be very successful if they are motivated in this format,” said Leggat.

Paul Nardone, Faculty Services and Assessment Coordinator, said students must be prepared for online classes to be much more demanding than typical courses.

“They are condensed. It’s a short- er period of time, but they have all of the same course objectives and all of the same learning outcomes that they would get in a traditional 15 week course. Students do need to approach them with a little bit of self-direction and self- discipline. It is a little different in that course,” said Nardone.

Leggat urges students to be aware that courses are split up into modules so students must keep up with the work or they will easily fall behind.

She said some online instructors record their lectures so the student has the option of listening multiple times.

“There are also a lot of course options for students. When you are sitting in a class, listening to a lecture, you can’t hit the rewind, but in some professors’ online course formats you can. Some are structured beautifully. You have the rewind button and you’re done with three credits in six weeks and it’s portable,” said Leggat.

Nardone said a bonus to online summer studies is students can still participate in summer activities.

“That’s a nice part of it. You can be taking classes, and you have to put the time in, but no one says you have to be in a classroom when it’s 90 degrees out. You can be in a nice air-conditioned kitchen drinking a lemonade.”

Tutoring is also available for students who struggle. The Student Success Center is open for business, and Smart Thinking is available online via Blackboard.

“A new service which is available where students can have a one- on-one session with the Writing Center using Adobe Connect. So it’s a Web conferencing tool. A lot of your courses, if you’re taking them online, require a great amount of writing so that’s a great service that’s available to them,” said Leggat.

Students also have the option of taking summer courses elsewhere, such as a community college close to home.

Leggat said students must take transfer agreements into consideration and understand the grade a student receives from another school will not transfer and there- fore will not help to improve his or her GPA.

“They have to get the course approved before taking one off cam- pus. They have to make sure they

are eligible to take that course at a community college because if they are of junior or senior status it will not transfer. The grade they receive will not affect their GPA. If they get a D and they take the class here, it will count. If they take a class elsewhere and get a D, it will not count,” said Leggat.

Students who take courses at other schools must also remember to send the transcripts to ensure the credits transfer.

Students must also be aware that if they take online courses at another university, the platform that university uses may be very different from Blackboard and may confuse them.

“Students taking a class here are familiar with the system. If you are taking a class elsewhere, it’s a new portal, new classroom management tools, things that they know here that might be a bit of a curve there,” said Nardone.

Nardone added that summer courses at MU are taught by university faculty so students know the quality of the education that they are receiving.

Leggat also explained that students who take multiple summer courses can stay on campus for a reduced rate or in some cases, for free.
“They can stay on campus and can get a reduced rate if they take less than six credits, and they get free housing if they take six or more credits. These credits can be in any format – we offer online, we offer on-campus, and there are weekend classes as well.”

There are also a variety of employment options for students living on campus during the summer months.

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