Good News about Summer Quarter
Bad News about Summer Quarter
Most Important Good News and Bad News
In each group, students were prompted to examine the positives and negatives of summer quarter in a more deliberate manner. They were given more time to think about their response and were asked to come up with at least three items on each side. Those who had no first-hand experience with summer quarter were directed to answer based on their perceptions.
Unique atmosphere. One of the strongest ideas that came across was that summer quarter is seen as a distinctly low-key time to be on campus. The atmosphere is more relaxed and the university has the feel of a smaller school during the summer months. Students explain that it is easier to find parking and to get access to the university's resources like computer labs. The libraries are less crowded and there are fewer lines in the Hub. Its sunny and pleasant on campus.
Opportunity to work towards graduation. Summer quarter is also seen as a way to work toward graduation which means a lot of different things to different students. For some it means graduating in less than four years and for others it means retaking a class, or getting into a high- demand prerequisite class in order to stay on track. A few students enroll in summer quarter because they take classes part-time year round. Summer quarter is particularly valued by transfer students and double majors who face unique pressures in terms of credits.
"My wife is putting me through school. I dont want to go over four years."
"I took one three-credit math class to start my sequences for the next year."
"I needed an accounting class before starting at the business school."
"I had to finish my language requirement in summer quarter in order to get accepted to the UW."
"My first quarter when I transferred in, I couldn't get any classes. Summer quarter was make-up time."
"I would go if I knew I needed to do it in order to graduate."
Reduced tuition. In general, out-of-state students have notably positive attitudes toward summer quarter because they get such a dramatic tuition reduction.
Opportunity to focus. For many people, the best thing about taking summer quarter is the opportunity to devote all of one's attention to one difficult class. One prime example of this would be to take one of the intensive language courses.
"I took microbiology because it's a hard class and I wanted to take it by itself."
"I took one summer quarter to get through Algebra and to keep on target to graduate in time."
"It went really fast. I did alright. It was easier to concentrate only taking one class."
Ease of registration and course work. Not only is there a perception that its easier to get into classes in the summer, but students also see summer quarter as less academically rigorous. Classes are typically smaller and many students feel it is easier to interface with professors in the summer. Others appreciate the fact that the quarter is more condensed.
"My roommate said the class was easier."
&qout;I did an internship. It was the easiest thing I've ever done."
Other tertiary benefits. Other benefits mentioned by students include the reduced price UPASS, working fewer hours, and the opportunity to participate in internships.
"I took three summer quarters and worked part-time. I did other things. I wanted the bus pass."
Students also had a number of insights into some of the drawbacks associated with summer quarter.
Hinders ability to work and save money. Perhaps the most strongly voiced disadvantage to taking summer quarter was the loss of potential to work full time. Several participants in each group stressed that this was a major factor that they took into consideration when planning their schedules. Many of these students explained that they would be unable to pay their tuition or other living expenses during the school year if they did not work full time during the summer.
"I need the money to pay for tuition. I don't want to take out a bunch of loans."
"I get enough money through grants, loans, and my job to just make it until summer."
"I am working then. Its impossible to fit in summer school when my work schedule varies."
Difficulty focusing. Another set of drawbacks students associate with summer quarter relate to the distractions of the season. Several participants stressed that not only is the sun out during the summer, but that those are the only sunny times of the year in this area. As one student in the College of Arts & Sciences put it, "It's easier to daydream during the summer." Several students chimed in about the difficulties of concentrating and studying during the summer. These concerns are coupled with the fact that many individuals have social activities planned during that time such as family get-togethers, travel, vacations, and simply catching up with friends who are away during the school year.
"Most people structure things around the summer like family gatherings. Its more of a festive or social time."
"It's my vacation. All of my family is around."
"It's a choice between sitting in three months of rain or three months of sunshine."
"After I took summer quarter once, I never did it again. There were too many distractions."
Limited course offerings. Again, students in all groups, especially the seniors, were put off by the lack of advanced undergraduate classes.
"I looked in the catalog. There was nothing interesting in the upper levels.&qout;
"There's nothing offered that would help me get ahead."
No break, burnout. Another perception of summer quarter is that it causes burnout. Many students talked about their need to get away from school for the quarter in order to combat stress. For some students the tradition of taking a break from school is highly valued, and will be challenging to overcome.
"Why do another one? We already do three."
"If you take a quarter off for the burnout factor, summer is the quarter to take off."
"I have a flexible work schedule, but I can't imagine taking summer quarter. Taking a break is important to me."
"Later on when you're working you can't take summer off."
Irregular, inflexible time schedule. Some students who have taken summer quarter had problems with the time schedules in the summer. Compared to other times during the year, it seems more difficult for students to plan their courses consecutively. This overlapping and other irregularities make it more difficult for some to plan their schedules in the summer or juggle both work and school.
Too condensed and intense. While one or two engineering students appreciated the condensed nature of summer quarter, a few other students found it overwhelming. The overall sentiment was that some courses were better suited to the condensed summer-quarter schedule than others.
"If you miss a day, it's like missing a week."
Lesser quality instruction. A handful of individuals felt that the quality of instruction was lower during the summer quarter. This notion is predicated on the perception that more TA's teach during the summer and that the more prestigious professors perform research during those months.
"I had a difficult time getting any professors to agree to grade my paper for an internship I was doing. No one was around."
Sacrificing internship opportunities. Seniors in the School of Business Administration and the College of Engineering were the most concerned about acquiring internships and work experience during the summer. Many students in these fields described the summer break as the prime opportunity to gain experience for one's resume.
"Internships are vital. Most are available in the summer."
"It's important to get work experience."
Limited financial aid. A few of the students on financial aid who have attended summer quarter remarked about some of the bottlenecks with their aid packages. One student mentioned that one must go to school full time during the summer in order to qualify for assistance. Others mentioned the year-long cap on aid which provides students with a set amount over the course of the year, whether one attends three or four quarters.
"My best friend tried to switch financial aid from spring to summer. She couldn't switch her financial aid."
"You have to do more hustling for four quarters. If there was more financial aid, that would be a different story."
"You have to fill out separate financial aid forms."
Would never attend summer quarter. Again, there was a small contingent of students who would not consider attending summer quarter. These individuals often justified their stance with some of the drawbacks previously mentioned. They also reinforced the notion that there is a comfort level and familiarity around summer break that has been built up over the years. Some of these individuals are simply not in a hurry to be through with college. For these students, no incentives were likely to motivate them to attend.
"I'd like to say Im working, but Ive never gone to summer school because Im not used to it."
"I never wanted to do it. There's no way."
"It would be theoretically possible. If it became the norm then that would be different."
"I'm just taking my time."
"I'm not in a real big hurry to be out of college."
"There are too many negatives on the scale. There are too many things I want to do."
Other tertiary factors. A few other less significant drawbacks came up in discussion such as the lack of air-conditioning, housing concerns, and absence of the "Night Ride" program.
After going through all of the "pro's" and "con's," students were asked to indicate the single most important benefit and drawback for them personally. Following are the items that came up most consistently for students.
|Most Important Pro's||Most Important Con's|
|Cheaper, in-state rates for everyone||Loss of money - not working|
|Work towards graduation faster||Burnout|
|Smaller class size||Few classes in department; Lack of upper-division classes|
|Easier to graduate in four years||Too distracted in summertime|
|Get hard classes out of the way, concentrate||Loss of vacation|
|Easier to get into classes||More intense, too condensed|
Summer Quarter Report Appendix 7c