The Pros and Cons of Taking a Summer Class

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Last semester I made the inspired decision to take my first summer class at McGill. After surviving what was an atrocious exam period – perhaps the worst one to date – the mere thought of having to attend a summer class was nothing short of tragic. My decision entailed that the words “Hakuna Matata” and “school doesn’t exist” would have to be put on the backburner for the time being. And while I basically shot myself in the foot by taking an 8 am class on Mondays through Thursdays, here are my pros and cons of taking a class during the summer at McGill University. 

Pros of taking a summer class:

The Weather

Taking a class in the summer only made me realize how the weather does really change my mood and how I view school in general. Walking to class in sandals as opposed to winter boots? Yes please! It seems as though we forget how beautiful our campus is when it is covered in snow and slush. Lying on the green grass after class with a coffee in hand truly uplifted my spirit and made “studying” more bearable. 

Its Duration 

Summer classes only last a month – time really does fly by. And so in a funny way, I never got tired of the material, nor the professor, as it all went by so quickly. Also, it gave my life the kind of structure it needed, in helping me avoid the feeling of boredom that sneaks in once the summer excitement finally settled. 

The Material

Unlike normal courses during the semester, the material needs to be condensed due to time constraints. You only become acquainted with a fraction of the material that would normally be covered in a four-month semester. For my learners out there, this might be a downside, but it was a tradeoff I was willing to take. 

Studying 

Given that I was not bombarded with other classes, studying for my American Literature course proved to be pleasurable. I was less stressed than I usually am during a normal exam period and I got to read the assigned novels under the beautiful Montreal sun with a latte in hand. 

Cons of taking a summer class:

You are taking a summer class. 

Instagram was a constant reminder that everyone else was having fun while I was stuck studying on campus. 

Course Schedule 

As mentioned, I had class four times per week on Mondays through Thursdays. While I was used to the feeling of a full course-load, there was something different about going through the motions during the summer; the feelings of freedom and relief that inherently come with summer no longer applied.

The Intensity

Although it is not as jarring as having to juggle between five different courses, each lecture does span over a three hour period – so much information is being fed to you at lightning speed and concentration is key. More importantly, unlike in the regular semester, missing a lecture is not as easy to do, because it’s akin to missing a chapter or section in the syllabus. 

The Lack of Study Buddies and Empty Libraries 

This one hit me hard. There is a sense of solidarity that is built among students during the semester and finals season in particular. I learned this summer that studying alone is not fun, and that entering a nearly empty library can really take a toll on your confidence and motivation levels. If I were to do it again, I would make sure to take a class with one of my friends, as a reassuring smile can really make all the difference. 

All in all, taking a summer class proved to be a roller coaster ride of emotions. Although I personally enjoyed my American literature class – as reading and writing were on my bucket list anyway – I could only imagine the horrors of taking a science core class during this period. And so, if taking a summer course is something that you’re considering, my suggestion would be to take an elective with less at stake, allowing you to partake in the joy that is summer in Montreal. 

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