Kerianne versus Summer Classes

I elected to take summer classes at Embry-Riddle for the first time this summer. I don’t have any exams this week, so I’m taking the opportunity to catch up on my blogging. My main motivation for taking summer classes was that I’ve reached a point in my classes where I couldn’t take any more courses at a university near my home, and taking classes this summer would mean a less stressful senior year.

I’m taking 6 credit hours this summer with Linear Circuits Analysis and Advanced Engineering Math. This will leave me with 14 and 9 credits for my last two semesters.

So are summer classes easier or harder than classes during the regular semester? Well, the answer is both.

On the one hand, summer classes run at a much more elevated pace than classes during a regular semester. What you would normally learn over 16 weeks is covered in only 6 weeks. So the way you study is different. You have to do your homework every day or you’ll get lost and pretty soon you won’t have any idea what’s going on in your lectures. The positive side of the faster pace is that you are usually fresher on topics for your exam, so it’s a bit of a trade off.

On the other hand, you only have classes 4 days a week and without overloading yourself with classes or extracurricular activities, you have 3 days off a week.

There are some students who do still have extracurricular activities like the Jet Dragster Project, NASA Space Grant Research, or in my case Newspaper. There is a lot of paperwork and organization that needs to be done over the summer to make sure the newspaper runs smoothly the next year, starting with our Orientation issue that has to be organized and printed a week before orientation.

So my weekly schedule is basically as follows:

MTWTh – 2-6 hours of homework, 0-3 hours on Newspaper, and 3.2 hours in class (which usually averages out to 8 hours/day),

FSa – Camping, or hiking, or hanging out with friends,

Su – 5-8 hours of homework/studying, then recovering from FSa

During a regular semester, between a full course load, and extracurricular activities, your average engineer gets very few days off. Once the engineering student reaches their junior and senior years, it is not unreasonable to expect that they will not get one day off for a month or more at the end of the semester, and by the time you’re on Christmas or summer break, you really need it.

From what I’ve experienced and what I’ve heard from other engineering students, it takes about a week for us young college students to recover from our semester, so if you can avoid work for the first weeks of your school breaks, you’re much better off. We were given a week between the end of Spring ’10 finals and the start of Summer A ’10 classes.

Actually having weekends during the summer is an amazing gift for an engineering student. I have taken the opportunity to engage in outdoor activities as often as I can, and it is these activities that will be the focus of my summer blogs.

Here is a glimpse of what my summer schedule and weekends off have looked like so far (detailed blogs to follow for select events):

Last Final of Spring Semester: May 6

Hiking to the top of Granite Mountain: May 7

Seeing friends graduate: May 8

Summer Classes Start: May 13

Camping at White Horse Lake: May 14 – 15

Hiking to Sycamore Canyon: May 15

Going home for my father’s 50th Birthday Celebration: May 20-23

Hiking in Sedona: May 30

Open House for printing company that prints our University paper in Tempe, AZ: June 4

Hiking Bell Trail #13 at Beaver Creek: June 5

Hiking Humphrey’s Peak: June 11

The rest of my summer in Prescott will probably look something like this:

June 18 or 19: ? Hiking to the base of the Grand Canyon, maybe?

June 19 or 20: Recovering from my “grand finale of the summer” hike

June 25-28: Studying for and taking Summer A Final Exams.

June 29: Flying home to Spring, Texas.

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