February 12, 2015

Summer: Beaches, bikinis &…books?!


Looking over the frozen Busch campus tundra, Dean Frosh is counting the days to thawing and springtime. Usual summer thoughts include beaches and relaxation, but increasingly students are wondering if they need to take classes in summer.

You’ll hear and see a lot about summer classes, and much of it may convince you that EVERYONE has to take summer classes. But Dean Frosh finds that many students should use summer for work, internships, travel or just relaxing after a stressful year. Obvi, you should meet with an adviser to discuss YOUR situation before making any decisions about summer classes. But, here are some issues to consider:

Making Progress
SAS considers a student to be making appropriate academic progress if they complete a specific number of credits by the end of the year:

Class Year
# of Credits Earned at End of Year
First-Year
22
Second Year
54
Third Year
84

Notice the benchmarks are NOT 30, 60 and 90, as it is often assumed; a student completing 22 or more credits is still on a 4-year-graduate timeframe. First-year students typically do and should take fewer credits to make their transition easier.

If you are at the low end of the range for your class year, consider if/how a summer course might help you meet your goals or help you to maintain a more comfortable courseload during the regular semesters. If you have credits well above those levels, you are making good progress and likely will not have an academically-motivated reason to take summer classes.

Why take Summer Courses?

Dean Frosh can think of 5 reasons to take summer courses:
·         You’re below the benchmarks and want to stay on track for a 4-year graduation
·         You need to take prerequisites to make progress in your major
·         The class is a special once-in-a-lifetime experience like a summer Study Abroad program
·         You’re not working and have extra time to take an enjoyable summer course to lighten another semester’s coursework
·         You want to do some further major/minor exploration that may inspire changes to your fall schedule

Dean Frosh can also think of reasons NOT to take summer courses:
·         You want to take an “easier” version of a class, which is particularly short-sighted if you need to build on that knowledge in your next class OR if it’s a graduate or medical school requirement
·         You’ve failed the course at Rutgers (the Repeated Course Policy only works for repeats at Rutgers-NB)
·         You plan to work 35-40+ hours per week

The Importance of Preapproval
Many students take summerclasses at Rutgers; we offer hundreds of classes in day, evening and online, in three summer sessions. Web registration for summer classes began this Monday, February 13.  

But, if home is >1 hour away, it is a good option to take a class at a different school and transfer the credits. There’s ONE VERY SIMPLE RULE: save yourself money and heartache and get transfer courses approved BEFORE you take them! An approved transfer course is your guarantee that the credit will transfer and it will make registering at the other school much easier. Click here for the Transfer Preapproval process/forms.

Finally, a few other important details:
·         Carefully check start and end dates of your Rutgers summer classes since there are three different sessions and webreg is blind to overlaps in summer.
·         Some SAS Core requirements, specifically the two 21C and one WCr requirements, MUST be taken at Rutgers-New Brunswick.
·         Pay attention to equivalents. For example: there are two Public Speaking courses and most of those at NJ community colleges do NOT satisfy the Core goals that the 300-level Rutgers course satisfies. 
·         12 is the maximum number of summer credits. Period. At all institutions combined. We advise limiting your registration to 3-6 credits, given the condensed nature of summer session.

Conclusion: Summer Session is a good opportunity for some, but unnecessary for others. Meet with an adviser to discuss how/if summer courses might be a good option for you. And keep counting the days...