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What classes should I take over the summer?

  1. Apr 6, 2008 #1

    I'm considering the following classes:
    PHY 126, which is Physics B, and it meets 6 times a week (3x LEC, 3x LAB).
    MAT 211, which is Intro to Linear Algebra, and it meets 3 times a week for 6 weeks.
    Or a general non-science course that is required by the diversified education curriculum in my university. These include art classes, music classes, language classes, etc.

    Now, PHY is a type of course that I personally am having trouble with during the course of regular semester, but only because there is work for other classes involved, and there's just very little time. I'm not sure how much this course would cover in one week (as opposed to 1 chapter a week for regular semester).

    MAT 211 - well, if there were no other courses during a regular semester, then, and I can only speak for the math courses I already took (non-accelerated Calc A, B, C), I would be able to handle those three at at least 2x the pace (2 chapters a week as opposed to one). But I don't know about linear algebra, I never took linear algrebra (hence why this is intro), so I don't know how difficult it is.

    General courses - they are just too diverse, and I have no idea whether it would make sense to take classes such as "Acting I", "Performing and Performance", "Intro to Music", "Intro to French", "Foundations of Drawing", etc.

    Please give me some advice.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 7, 2008 #2
    Taking challenging math and physics courses in an accelerated summer schedule is usually ill advised. One farmer can produce a grain crop in four months, but four farmers cannot produce a grain crop in one month. Learning is similar. Real understanding of the math or physics you suggest is possible in a compressed summer term, but it is rare and somewhat like taking a dring of water from a fire hose.

    Take a relatively easy course that fulfills general degree requirements.

    Michael Courtney
  4. Apr 7, 2008 #3
    Thank you for your advice. That is what I was inclined to do. :smile:
  5. Apr 7, 2008 #4
    What about linear algebra in a 4 week summer session? The truth is I have to take it if I want to graduate next spring. Any advice though for how to do it?

    Is it like organic chemistry which is a class which requires a long time to develop a certain intuition needed to solve problems or can I develop the linear algebra skills in a reasonably shorter time? I heard linear algebra is one of the easier math classes (although everything is relative I guess)
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2008
  6. Apr 8, 2008 #5


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    My advice is to go on holiday, or get a job so you can earn some money. I never understand why people would want to attend college all year around. After all, you can take books with you to read whilst lying on the beach, if you so wish!
  7. Apr 8, 2008 #6
    My guess is that it would be very difficult in a 7 week period, let alone 4 weeks. Are you sure you don't have any longer "buffer" semesters?

    1) Reading books does not earn credits and does not satisfy degree requirements
    2) College summer break is way too long (4 months here), and that sucks for two reasons:
    • Long breaks from studying make it difficult to return into studying mode later.
    • 4 months is a waste, I personally don't need so much time to relax. One and a half months is more than sufficient.
    • Summer classes don't take all the time, so they can be combined with both relaxation/sports and work.
    • Not taking classes over the summer means more work during regular semesters, and that's just irrational to subscribe for.

    I think I'm going to take one language class and one required general curriculum class.
  8. Apr 8, 2008 #7


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    1. If you're only bothered about obtaining "credits" and ticking boxes, rather than actually learning material, then fine, take summer classes. I presumed that you would want to actually learn material, though.
    2. I loved my four month breaks-- I tended to take a few weeks off, then work pretty much full time to earn some extra cash to enable me to survive during the next year at university, then take a few weeks summer holiday in the sun before going back to university. Of course one can still study over the summer to keep one's "eye in".
  9. Apr 8, 2008 #8
    I think that's an unrealistic assessment. Most people on this forum presumably enjoy learning for the sake of learning, but you need credits and ticked boxes if you want to (for instance) apply to grad school or get a relevant job.
  10. Apr 8, 2008 #9


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    Sure, tick boxes and learn simultaneously. But, from what others have said, taking summer courses seems to be cramming classes into an extremely small time scale, and thus will have a negative impact on the actual learning.
  11. Apr 8, 2008 #10
    Actually, I never said anything like that. The summer classes I am looking to take lie directly in my range of interests, so I would be learning material of interest to me and ticking boxes simultaneously.

    Well, if the subject is of interest, then one would tend to spend more time on just that subject, and thus there would be no harm to learning - as opposed to the case where the subject is not of interest and is absorbed by the person only superficially, the case where the subject is of interest, I think, would just create an expansion to the knowledge that would be gained by just the independent absorption of the same subject, wouldn't it?

    For instance (and this is just an example, I'm not intending to preach anything here), one could study a work like "Tao Te Ching" on one's own and understand a certain amount, or add to that studying in a classroom "for a ticked box (or not)", and maybe understand more via the input from the class.

    I don't know about you, but for me, personally, it is difficult to return into "studying mode" after even a 1 1/2 month break, even though I'm usually into it. Yes, taking a summer job is great use for the time, too, but I think these can be combined, and that's what I am planning to do. :)

    By the way, who can suggest a source of cool summer jobs other than the ordinary ones? I mean, things like working in camps, etc. I know, this is a little off-topic, but I am the creator of the thread, so I may... lol. :smile:
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2008
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