Friday, April 22, 2005

Planning for Spring/Summer Session

Spring and summer courses work well for some students and not for others. For some the concentration and intensity of six months of coursework jammed into fewer than three months keeps them on track and focused. For others, far too much information and processing required in a short period of time is simply overwhelming. There is also a myth out there that spring courses, because of their short time period, cover less material than the same course taught during the full term. This is not necessarily the case. Students are often expected to read and learn as much in six to twelve weeks as they would in the longer twelve to twenty-four week courses. Procrastination that can be dealt with when assignments are spread out over longer time periods can be disastrous when compacted into a shorter time period.

Planning you schedule

  • Know yourself and how well you function under pressure. If pressure is counter-productive for you, then it is a good idea to consider taking a course that goes for twelve rather than six weeks.
  • Be wary of unrealistic expectations. It is not necessarily do-able to work fulltime and take two to three spring or summer courses. It all looks possible at the beginning of the spring term and much less so when work demands conflict with school demands. This is particularly hard when the turn around time is so short.
Managing your time
  • Start your assignments immediately. This is our advice under any circumstances, but it is particularly important to do this for shorter courses. In most cases you will need to use every week available. A paper assigned at the beginning of class will often be due only two or three weeks later!
  • Do your work everyday. Do not save up assignments, readings, and reviews for the weekend or you will fall behind.
  • Divide your assignments into smaller tasks. That way you can keep working, feel like you are making progress, and avoid that feeling of being overwhelmed by too much work in too little time.
  • Watch for burnout. You have already completed a full year. Burnout happens when you work constantly without a break. Symptoms of burnout are “fatigue, boredom, and stress.” It’s a good idea to schedule time off from school at some time during the year. Doing different things is also good for your brain and your long term success. The fresher we are in the fall term, the better chance we have of doing well.
  • Remember it’s summer and do activities to capitalize on that. You can bike to school, take regular walks around campus (there are some lovely river walks and Kings Park is only 20 minutes away), participate in outdoor sports, study outside, and get to know classmates.

Two useful sites with information on procrastination and time management

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