A few years ago I had the pleasure of signing up for a 5 week summer math course. In my mind I thought “how difficult could it be to have one class every day, for 2 and a half hours, for about a month?” In the past I have taken 6 classes, including a math course, and I passed every single class. However, I was not aware of how different a fall semester math course compared to a summer math course could be. Well, I must say I was in for a rude awakening when I started my summer class this past June. Not only was I not prepared for the chilling temperatures in the classroom, but I also was not prepared for the fast pace that we would be learning different concepts.
When I entered the classroom it was freezing cold, which for me is a distraction because cold weather makes me tired. After I sat down and tried to get comfortable, my professor would come in and immediately start with the lecture. The material that we were learning was complex, and at times I found myself lost. I constantly asked my professor questions, and I even went up to her desk a few times for clarity. My efforts to understand were to no avail because I just was not grasping the concepts! As time progressed, I tried to teach myself the material that I didn’t understand. I also went to the learning center and sat with the tutor. The end of the first week of class came and we were to take our first test and I knew that I was not prepared. Although I spent 4-5 hours after class studying and trying to complete homework, I WAS NOT GETTING IT!! I asked other students in my class, and they explained that they were also having difficulties with the material we were covering in class. After the first two weeks, several people dropped the class because they were not satisfied with their grades on the first, and second exam. However I decided I would not give up on myself, I would finish the class.
As the semester started to wind down I realized that taking a math class in a summer session is NOT A GOOD IDEA. (Well not for me anyway!) There just is not enough time to explain each topic in detail!! Even though I spent hours studying, I still found it difficult to remember the topics that I was taught previously throughout the week. Mathematics is a complex subject which requires a lot of time and devotion. I felt that I did not have an adequate amount of time to break down each topic and internalize it. Since I was not able to get a firm grasp on each topic, I was not able to perform to the best of my ability on each exam. I found myself in a very unpleasant state, and I cannot learn when I am not happy! I had to pull myself together and put as much effort as possible into my school work so that I could see improvement in my work. It took me sometime, but I developed a method that allowed me to slowly increase my grades in this course.
My advice to anyone considering taking a summer Mathematics class is to think twice. If you do not like math,the summer definitely is not the right time to take a math course! You may have difficulty absorbing the information if your mind is not open to learning math. There is not enough time in the semester for you to gradually teach yourself the information, and try to understand it, which was my experience. T o really succeed you have to be open to the knowledge and be able to work in a fast paced environment.
As a student you also have to realize, that not all professors will be willing, or have the time to,sit with you, after a 2 and a half hour class to explain to you topics you missed. Another thing to remember is that you will be exhausted every day after class, and you’ll have a heavy workload. If you decide to take up a summer class just be ready for intense class hours and intense study sessions. There may be nights where you do not sleep at all and in order to succeed in a mathematics course you need your rest. You must try and find a balance doing things like taking naps between study sessions, eating well, keeping a positive mindset and getting as much help as possible.
A mathematics course can be difficult in a regular 15 week course and it’s even more difficult in a five week course. If you decide to take this route be prepared to work hard, and devote a significant portion of your time to studying. Hanging out with friends, and having time to relax is out of the question. If you want exceptional grades, you must sacrifice a lot of your time and put in maximum effort into every topic that is covered in class. If you want to enjoy your summer, I would encourage you to Think Twice before taking a Summer Math Course. Who knows, there is always a possibility that you may be a math wiz, and could knock out three math courses in the summer session. If you have ever taken a summer class , leave me a few comments and let me know how the experience was for you.