Taking Summer College Courses as a High Schooler

This summer, I took my first community college course! At first, I didn’t think I would have the time to do this along with all my other summer activities and it seemed kind of intimidating, but I’m extremely thankful that I did. I will be reflecting my experience on it, giving some advice on taking community college courses during the summer, and explaining why it’s so beneficial (especially while still in high school).

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Essentially, I found a local community college that was relatively close to where I lived. I actually had to decide what course I was planning to take while I was attending my regular high school classes because my counselor was the one that registered students for dual credit summer courses.

My dad told me that he took Psychology in college and thought it was a pretty fun class. I agreed with him, as I was interested in learning more about the mind and why humans behave the way that they do. I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but I decided to just sign up for the class and see how it went.

Nevertheless, when the first day of class quickly approached, I started to become anxious. All those doubts started crossing my mind. I had never taken a college course before. What would it be like? Would I have enough time to spend on this course? I’m going to be surrounded by older people that could possibly be 10 years older than me. That’s awkward. Not only that, but due to other activities, I had to sign up for the 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm session. I’ve never gone to school that late in the day before.

Yet it’s crazy how on that first day, suddenly I just showed up with no nerves whatsoever. I just told myself it would be like any other day at school and that there was nothing to worry about.

It was all pretty chill. I got a syllabus. We did an icebreaker. The professor started teaching her lecture. Then, I went home and started the whole process over (minus the icebreaker). I would basically take an exam once a week and there would be a presentation and cumulative final at the end of the course. It’s actually kind of a funny story really because this course was easier than all my AP courses in high school. Sure, there was a textbook we had to read, but I quickly realized that I didn’t even need to read it—the PowerPoints from the lectures were enough. We even had exam reviews! Heck, my AP World History teacher never gave me a test review, and he had me filling up 8-10 pages of notes in a 45 minute span compared to my 1-2 pages in Psychology for a 2 hour period.

Then again, this was Psychology. A lot of it was common sense stuff, but I don’t want you to think I’m downplaying it all. I still studied and worked hard for my grade. I still learned a lot of useful information that I will definitely use in the future. I’m also not saying that all college professors will be like that. Some might be tougher and you might actually have to read an entire textbook during the summer, but it’s definitely worth it.

Choosing a College Class

1. Figure out what interests you.

You need to decide what your passions are and consider what you are interested in learning more about. This is your summer. Make the best of it. You want to invest your time in something worthwhile that will make a genuine impact in your life.

2. Highly consider taking an independent class.

While considering what you like is very important, it’s also in your best favor to take an independent class. What I mean by this is a class that doesn’t rely on past knowledge or concepts that build on top of each other. Courses like Physics and Chemistry can be very involving, and it might be best for you to take those as a full 1 year class. Psychology, for example, is an independent class because you don’t really need any prior knowledge to do well in it.

3. Don’t take more than you can chew.

Before you decide to make this commitment, you need to take into account all of the other summer activities or events that you’re doing. Make sure that you have time in your schedule to make this class worthwhile and be successful in it.

4. Decide if you are a morning person or an evening person.

Sometimes, you don’t have a choice in taking morning or evening sessions depending on other obligations. However, it is something to consider when registering to be in a summer class. You will spend at least 2 hours most likely in this class, so you need to be energized.

I took an evening session which I wasn’t accustomed to. However, I adapted and quickly adjusted. If you’re not used to going to class at a certain time, don’t worry too much. You will get used to it.

5. Ask others about the class or use Rate My Professors.

If you can, it’s best to know what the teacher is like before you sign up for the class. If you know someone who already took the class you’re considering, ask him or her about it. If not, try the website Rate My ProfessorsSomeone at Lone Star actually showed me this website, and it can be very useful to figure out what a college professor is like and how they teach. It’s basically like a food review but instead of reviewing food, it’s past students reviewing teachers.

Being Successful in the Class

1. Find out where your classroom is before class starts.

Check out your classroom prior to attending class, so you know where it is and what it looks like. That might calm your nerves a bit.

2. Attend every class.

It’s definitely advisable to go to every session. If you don’t, you will miss a lot of important information, especially because these sessions are longer than regular high school classes. Professors can also pinpoint and emphasize concepts or information that you especially need to know.

3. Pay attention.

Staying attentive is key to getting good grades in class. Professors will drop hints throughout the lecture and give you key information that you need to know. If you pay attention in class, you won’t need to study as much outside of class.

4. Ask questions.

If you’re confused about something, ask. No one will judge you. It’s essential that you understand what you’re having trouble with because most likely, that will be on the test. My community college has a database where you can e-mail teachers, so be sure to e-mail them if you have any confusions as well.

5. Have fun!

Don’t feel too stressed about the class. It’s summer! Enjoy yourself. Even though, I was literally the youngest person in my class, I still made a lot of awesome friends. I even went to Chick-fil-A with one of them to celebrate our class coming to an end!

What to Expect

With college, it’s a lot of responsibility. You don’t have a bus to take you to college each day like in high school, so you have to make sure you’re always on time and never tardy. Professors are not going to spoon-feed you. They’re going to give you assignments or projects and expect you to do it. If you don’t do the work, then they cannot do anything for you. Make sure you devote at least an hour or two each day to study.

Also, make sure you retain the information you learn as well. Most likely, you’ll have an exam at the end of the course over everything that you’ve learned.

Why You Should Consider Taking a College Course

1. It’s typically easier during the summer.

I’d say that most likely, taking the class during the summer will actually be easier than taking it during the school year. Sometimes, professors can be a little more lenient. For me, homework assignments and pop quizzes counted towards extra credit for tests.

2. Don’t procrastinate.

During the summer, it’s really easy to waste your time and not do anything. I can attest to that. With a college course, it’ll motivate you to stay active and achieve a lot.

3. Lessen your load during high school.

If you take some classes during the summer, maybe you won’t have to take them in high school. High school can be so stressful, so if you spread some of your classes out, it could be really beneficial.

4. It’s rewarding.

I learned a lot in Psychology about all sorts of concepts. Coming home and getting all those good grades can really make a person proud of him or herself. The information that you learn will stay with you forever.

5. You get college credit!

This is probably one of the most important aspects of taking a college course besides being rewarding. The more college credit you can get before going off the college, the better.

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Deciding to take a college course before going to college shows a lot of initiative, and there are so many perks for taking that leap. If you are able to do so, you definitely should.

I hope this helps!

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