With spring quarter coming to an end, many students eagerly await backpacking trips across Europe or exciting internships. However, a select few are sacrificing their much-needed breaks to spend more time on campus taking courses to get ahead.
As the weather warms and students are still recuperating from spring quarter, it’s important for those taking summer courses to find ways to bolster their motivation and stay focused for a fourth consecutive quarter.
This summer, Western is offering over 500 courses that can be taken on campus, online or abroad.
In order to graduate next spring, junior Lindsay Carnahan, a biocultural anthropology major, will be taking elementary organic chemistry over the course of nine weeks this summer.
Carnahan said she is looking forward to completing the organic chemistry requirement and not having to think about it for the remainder of her college career.
“I can go the easy route and take this one class over the summer and be done with organic chemistry forever,” Carnahan said.
Because courses finish in August, there will be a few weeks for a mental break and time to go home and travel.
The quick turnaround between spring and summer quarter can leave students struggling to feel completely prepared for another six or nine more weeks of intense classes. These students come into the new classes anything but clear-headed and stress free.
Dr. Emily Gibson, the medical director of the Western Student Health Center, said in an email that students who continue their studies through the summer are more likely to exhibit signs of physical stress through symptoms such as sleep-deprivation, headaches, muscle tensions, stomach problems and general anxiety.
“We professors need to be aware of the pressure that the students are under and be willing to make accommodations that summer quarter requires that the regular quarter would not.”
Cathy McDonald, English professor
With less students on campus, Gibson said the Health Center and Counseling Center are less busy, allowing for struggling students to receive support and care more efficiently and effectively.
She said the best way to combat stress is to spend more time outside in the warm summer weather to counteract the stress of the accelerated courses.
“It is good to take frequent breaks to do physical exercise to tire out your body and release the extra adrenalin,” Gibson said.
Last summer, junior Alena Rainsberry, a chemistry major, took the entire organic chemistry series. Rainsberry transferred to Western after her freshman year, causing her to be behind in her major. She said she chose to take the organic chemistry series to get on track to graduate in the spring.
She said she spent all nine weeks studying and rarely got a break to go outside and enjoy the nice weather or give her mind a break.
“It was an extremely intense summer. We had a [test] every single week,” Rainsberry said. “I don’t know if I could rally my work ethic to do it again.”
Rainsberry said she didn’t regret spending her summer only studying because it was what had to be done in order for her to graduate on time.
English professor Cathy McDonald said she often worries about the wellbeing of her students, especially when they take more than one class.
This summer she will teach a six-week writing studies class that focuses on autobiographical compositions. She said her class will be more intense, requiring students to read various autobiographical works every week.
“We professors need to be aware of the pressure that the students are under and be willing to make accommodations that summer quarter requires that the regular quarter would not,” McDonald said.
However, McDonald said the vibe of the classes are more laid back and casual and create a stronger support system and community because most classes meet every day.