April 25, 2019 | 54° F

Accessory semesters create a more concise learning experience

Students who enrolled in a class during a Summer or Winter session had more time to focus on class content

Photo by Flickr |

According to Elizabeth Beasley, director of the Rutgers—New Brunswick Summer and Winter Sessions, students who enrolled in both sections of a two-part course at Rutgers earned one letter grade better than students who took one section at a community college.

This past winter session approximately 1,900 took classes during the Winter Session. Prior to that, 15,346 students enrolled in classes during the summer session — the highest number in University history.

Rutgers surveyed students who take courses outside of the fall and spring semesters and found that many do so to complete degree credits, said Elizabeth Beasley, the director of New Brunswick Winter Session. 

Jenna Rhodes, a sophomore in the School of Arts and Sciences, took a three-week Introduction to Financial Accounting course during the Winter Session.

“I think it is a good idea for students to catch up. Most of the kids in my class were business minors. They were seniors who were graduating this year. A lot of the kids who take winter courses take it because they absolutely have to,” Rhodes said.

She said that she thinks summer session courses are a little more laid back, not as short or rushed as a winter course. Office hours are a lot better during winter and summer courses because professors can offer more personalized attention.

Beasley said that not every course is built for the three-week winter session. Some departments, such as the Department of Math and the Department of Statistics, do not offer classes in the winter because the information offered cannot be condensed into three weeks.

Rhodes said that the amount of homework due everyday was one of the negative aspects of her class.

Beasley said that courses that involve reading extensive, longer novels are not conducive, but short fiction and language classes could be a nice fit. This is due to a shorter session that creates a compressed, intensive learning atmosphere where students are only focused on a single class.

“You’re going to be able to improve your skill set,” Beasley said. “That’s the kind of compressed, intensive schedule that works really well with teaching things like public speaking, or learning a foreign language. So there’s somethings that are really well suited for it.”

Michael Martinez, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said he took an Introduction to Environmental Science course online over the summer.

“Drawbacks are that everything goes by so fast, especially for the winter. The positives are that you really don’t have to focus on much besides the class you are taking, because in summer and winter sessions you usually just take one (class),” Martinez said

Martinez said that he prefers Summer Session over Winter Session, because there is more time to process new information. 

The cost of summer classes at Rutgers can be high, especially when compared to cheaper alternatives at community colleges, he said. The hassle of going through credit transfers might be a reason why students choose to stay on campus during Summer and Winter Session.

Beasley said that the prices for Summer and Winter Session courses are established by the state. It has to first be approved by the board of regions and the state legislature, and the University uses the same per-credit figure that is approved every year.

“My experience has been that you get a different education at different institutions. You know it’s harder to get into Rutgers,” she said.

Beasley said that taking summer or winter courses at Rutgers could be a good alternative because of continuity between faculty, departments and curriculum. This is especially important in classes that have two sections.

She said her office underwent research in 2016 that looked at grade differences between Rutgers students who took the first part of a two-part course at another college over the summer and students who took both parts at Rutgers.

“The average grade among students, in a subsequent course, who took the basic course here was a 'C' … But the average grade in the following course taken at Rutgers among kids who took who took (the first) somewhere else, mostly community colleges, was a 'D,' ” Beasley said.

Since only grades of "C" or better from outside schools are eligible for Rutgers credit, the study looked at students who fit that criteria. They found that those who took both parts of the class on campus performed an entire letter grade better than those who did not.

“Dedicate everything to a winter course, because it goes by fast and its very easy to fall behind,” Rhodes said. “It’s best to just not fall behind the begin with.”

Ryan Stiesi

Samil Tabani

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