The truth about UC Berkeley’s summer school sessions

classroom_joshua_jordan_file
Joshua Jordan/File

If you’re planning on enrolling in one of UC Berkeley’s several summer sessions next year, read this article beforehand. The Clog is here to save your future summer plans and debunk any of the summer school myths that may have given you a false impression of what the six- to ten-week experience truly entails.

MYTH: “It’s super easy — way easier than the fall and spring semesters.”

TRUTH: Summer sessions are anything but easy, breezy and beautiful. If you’re seeking an alternative to the rigor of UC Berkeley’s fall and spring courses, do not rely on summer sessions for any sort of academic relief. While a typical semester is composed of fifteen weeks plus dead week as a period solely dedicated to studying for final exams, summer sessions are only given six to ten weeks, depending on which session you’re enrolled in, to cover just as much material — with no chance for rest. Missing one lecture equates to one whole chapter of material in summer school, which will definitely make you reconsider if it’s really worth it to hit that snooze button and sleep an extra hour.

MYTH: “Might as well get more than one class out of the way during the summer.”

TRUTH: If you decide to enroll in more than one class, make sure that the courses you select balance each other out in difficulty. Getting a breadth class out of the way and taking one of your major requirements is an example of a manageable summer duo. However, be aware of the challenge that you’re getting into if you’re planning on taking two or more difficult classes, because you’re in for a summer’s worth of cram sessions and all-nighters.

MYTH: “I’ll feel more motivated during the summer.”

TRUTH: It’s only natural that you’d want to take a moment to relax after two semesters of grinding. With the image of sandy beaches and azure skies ingrained in our heads when June rolls around, we’d never begin to imagine that we’d have to spend the summer heat wave inside a classroom. The desire to take a spontaneous trip with your friends, see your favorite artist live and sleep in until noon has never felt more real until you’re forced to wake up at 8 a.m. and head to Evans for your morning lecture.

MYTH: “The curve will help me!”

TRUTH: One leisurely stroll through campus is all one needs in order to see how large the UC Berkeley student body is. Swarms of students rush out of classrooms and through Sather Gate each day, creating a hectic environment that all UC Berkeley students get accustomed to within the first couple of weeks. Could you imagine what campus life would be like every day without hundreds of people searching for seats in your packed lecture hall? Summer school is a drastic difference in size, with classes smaller than a hundred people. If you learn best in smaller environments, then this might be the learning opportunity you’ve been waiting for. However, one thing to keep in mind with smaller enrollments is the almighty curve. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how you slid by with the grade you did, thank the good ol’ curve. In summer school, the curve operates a little differently depending on the performance of your peers — something to consider if you’re accustomed to seeing your raw midterm score jump up two grade levels.

MYTH: “Summer school will lighten your course load for next semester.”

TRUTH: Although taking classes during the summer can be a great way to knock some college and major requirements out of the way within a couple of months, don’t enroll solely for the purpose of making your next semester a walk in the park. You’ll just end up feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work, extracurriculars and responsibilities that you have to take care of during your time off. Imagine completing your Phase II Enrollment right before your final exam is handed out — signing up for your courses is stressful enough.

MYTH: “The professors are so chill!”

TRUTH: Because class sizes are smaller and office hours aren’t as packed, you may get to know your professors on a more personal level. However, don’t expect your professors to start cutting you some slack because you forgot to turn in your homework assignment during section. Voluntarily enrolling in classes over the summer doesn’t somehow give you more leverage than you’d have in the fall or spring, so don’t start pushing the boundaries with your professors.

If you’ve slacked off during the school year (no judgement), UC Berkeley’s summer sessions can restore order and maybe even your GPA by allowing you to retake the classes you may not have done so well in. They also provide instant gratification when you realize you just crossed off yet another class from your major’s lengthy list of prerequisites. But be warned not to underestimate the difficulty of summer classes — having to cram through perplexing topics at twice the normal speed isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Contact Erika Lee at [email protected] .