Caracotsios: Summer classes leave something to be desired

Caracotsios: Summer classes leave something to be desired

Julian Caracotsios, Summer Columnist

This is the second year I have taken classes during Northwestern’s Summer Session. I just finished the final exam for my history class, and linear algebra wraps up in another week, so I’ve been thinking back on my experiences so far. Though there’s no way I can speak for everyone, my feelings toward summer classes are mixed, and not in a good way.

The professors teaching the classes I have taken have been, overall, fair and engaging. I’m not displeased by them per se, but to be honest, the classes I’ve taken seem watered down to some extent. Though the history and math classes I’ve taken have been quite enjoyable, I feel like I could have gotten much more out of them had I been pushed harder. In short, I think that a lot of summer classes are just too easy.

In many ways, this is understandable because summer classes are taken by a wider variety of students – many of them do not regularly attend and some are still in high school – so NU has to accommodate more experiences and levels of background knowledge. Naturally, if pushed too hard, high school students would be strongly discouraged from taking the leap into college-level classes. There’s also the fact that many departments offer far fewer 300-level courses during the summer than they do during the academic year. Obviously, the specialized classes, which often deal with far more in-depth material, have fewer students and might be difficult to fill during the summer.

However, I’ve heard more than a few of my fellow students complain that there seems to be a generally less-than-serious attitude in summer classes, and I’m guilty of the same mentality. I’m no shining paragon of academic virtue, so I – like many of my peers – find it difficult to motivate myself in a less-than-motivating environment where I can get away with scraping things together at the last minute. At the same time, I dropped the third class I was taking this summer after the first lecture. I immediately saw that it would be a joke when the professor told us we’d be graded on a “journal” we were supposed to keep of our reactions to the material, and there would be no exams. What is this, the fifth grade? Considering how expensive classes are, I found that a totally unacceptable waste.

Perhaps I’ve just been unlucky. There are dozens of classes offered over the summer and some, such as the entire three-quarter organic chemistry sequence, must be quite rigorous, so I know that my grievances are certainly not true for everyone. But I can’t shake the feeling that I could have learned more and something could be done better.

Summer columnist Julian Caracotsios is a rising Weinberg senior. He can be reached at [email protected] If you would like to respond publicly to this column, leave a comment or send a letter to the editor to [email protected]