Summer school. Ugh.
There was a clear connotation that came with those two words in high school. No matter the reason students attended class from June to July, the presumption of any outsider was that those students didn’t hit their academic marks. Some even thought those in attendance were lowlifes.
However, for college students, deciding to take summer classes is a completely different story.
According to Makenna Schluter, an academic adviser in the Academic Support Center at MSUM, students surrender their time during the summer months for one of two reasons: to catch up or to get into a class that proves difficult in either semester.
Many students spend their breaks away from Moorhead, so one of the biggest draws for students taking one of the 400+ summer classes is the ability to do so completely online. In fact, about 75 percent of the classes are mostly or completely online.
Alex Kizima, a senior advertising major, took two classes at MSUM during the summer of 2017 while she lived and worked full time as a server in Grand Forks. The flexibility of the online schedule made setting her work-life balance simpler.
“My day started at 11, and then sometimes I would work until midnight, so if I got up at eight or nine to do homework for two hours, or if had the day off, I would do it,” Kizima said. “There were a couple times where I would be behind or totally forget I was even taking classes. So, I would email the professor, and they were totally cool with it.”
In each semester, online and in-class courses are setup differently, and one of the strengths of studying online is those classes are formatted to accommodate the working student.
“It’s also nice the way that they set it up; they gave you everything and said, ‘These are all the assignments. Get it done in the amount of time you have,’” Kizima said. “There weren’t really due dates.”
During the summer, MSUM offers sessions of three, four, five, six and eight weeks. This compares to the typical 16-week semester. In order to fit a full three credits of coursework into the condensed time frame, the structure of the class gets altered, resulting in pros and cons.
“I found it really worth it for my photography class,” Kizima said. “I had a Nikon. He would tell you how to work it on a Canon and a Nikon, and it was all stuff I could look up myself. But for social media campaigns, I thought that I could have gotten more out of it in an in-class (setting).”
Each semester, MSUM offers banded tuition, which means the tuition prices stay the same if you take anywhere from 12 to 18 credits. If a student took a full course load of 18 credits every semester for the duration of their four years on campus, they would essentially have 48 free credits to their name.
In the summer, there is no banded tuition. Every class taken is extra money out of pocket. Kizima estimated she spent around $2,000 last summer on tuition. Because spending that money prevented her from having to take an extra semester in the fall of 2018, the sticker shock never came.
“What is my time worth to me?” Kizima said. “If I got done this May instead of having to go to school for another six months, $2,000 isn’t a lot of money. I also cut back on summer trips, and I worked my butt off to pay for (the classes). It does suck that they cost so much … but I thought that my time was worth more than I paid.”