Five years ago, senior English major Krystle Thompson traveled to
Florence, Italy on a high school spring break vacation. Ever since, she
said she has dreamt of living in the beautiful, historic city.
This fall, Thompson said she will be able to spend the last year of
her college education in Florence, thanks to the availability of the
two summer courses she is now taking.
When Thompson first learned in April about her trip to Florence, she
quickly began searching for a way to finish up her English courses at
‘?If I didn’t take these summer classes, I wouldn’t be able to
graduate when I come back,’ Thompson said. ‘?I’m glad I can finish up
For the rest of the CSUN community, nothing paints a better picture
of the ideal summer vacation than sleeping in, backyard barbecues or
road trips with friends.
But for some CSUN students and professors, summer vacation is
something else entirely:’#8200;a chance for students to take a whole bunch of
classes quickly, even if its a bit overwhelming, and an opportunity for
professors to supplement their regular’ salaries with extra
‘?I’d rather be sleeping in and not have to wake up for class at 8
a.m. every morning,’ said junior child development major Michelle
Beginning June 6, summer students had their choice of five different
sessions that ranged from between five and 11 weeks in duration, with
the last sessions ending Aug. 19.
‘?I like that I have so many options to choose from, because it gives
me more flexibility with work and family obligations,’ said junior
child development major Rachel Mitzman.
Fifteen Weeks Becomes Six Weeks
Shana Hammers, freshman child and adolescent development major, said
she is enrolled in summer classes and is enjoying the advantages of
summer school following her first year.
‘?I love the idea of earning six units in only six weeks, as opposed
to an entire semester,’ Hammers said. ‘?But keeping up with the constant
reading assignments is very difficult to do.’
These constant reading assignments, projects and tests are a common
disadvantage for many summer school students because of the condensed
time most courses are taught in.
As a result of the shortened version of the curricula, students must
complete the standard 15-week workload in as few as 6 weeks in some
‘?The six-week session does pose some problems with teaching, because
it is difficult to convey the same material as in a 15-week semester,’
said Geology Professor Edward Jackiewicz.
If a student misses one day of class during the summer sessions, the
work missed is oftentimes equivalent to more than a week of class
during the regular school semesters, Ghirelli said.
‘?I don’t like (some summer sessions) being only six weeks, because
once you fall behind, it’s too hard to catch up,’ Ghirelli said. ‘?You
have to constantly keep on top of it.’
‘?I can’t believe how much is assigned in these classes,’ Thompson
said.’#8200;Before going to Italy in the fall, she needs to finish taking two
400-level English courses.
‘?However, it wouldn’t be fair for teachers to allow summer students
to earn the same units … without doing the same amount of work as in
the regular semesters,’ Thompson said.
Like Thompson, many students are enrolled in two or more classes
during the summer for various academic and financial reasons.
Felicia Auerbach, sophomore psychology and child and adolescent
development major, said she feels the pressure from her political
science and child development classes.
In between juggling the workload for both classes, she said she
tries to balance working 30 hours a week for Dean Susan Curzon in the
‘?It’s hard when the teachers arrange their summer school classes
exactly as they would their other classes during the regular semester,’
Auerbach said. ‘?(Professors are) not taking into account that there
isn’t enough time. It’s very overwhelming.’
Because the regular semester classes are sometimes condensed nearly
50 percent, some students find difficulty in understanding the large
amount of information provided.
‘?A disadvantage (to students) is that they tend to enroll in too
many courses, like three, thinking that they can handle that many
courses in six weeks,’ said Tom Lee, economics professor.
Some professors said they think summer students bring a certain
academic discipline with them to class.
‘?Students stay engaged in the class (during the summer),’ said Nancy
Tosh, religious studies professor. ‘?I also find that summer students
tend to be more highly motivated and focused on the class.’
Compared with taking a full 12- or 15-unit load during the regular
semester, many students have the advantage of not getting distracted by
‘?Students tend to remember the material from one day to the next,’
said Evelyn McClave, English and linguistics professor.
Whether a student takes one or five classes during the summer depends
on many factors, and for some students, the cost of tuition plays into
that decision-making process.
For students taking between one and six units, tuition is $678. For
students taking more than six units, tuition is $1,167.
In some cases where a student would otherwise pay $678 for just one
class, some have chosen to take two summer classes to ‘?get their moneys
Senior child development major JoAnn Hill said she is paying for her
summer classes herself, and did not want to pay the full tuition for
‘?I needed to take these classes anyways,’ Hill said. ‘?I wanted to
get my moneys worth.’
Auerbach said the tuition setup was a leading factor in her decision
to take two classes during the summer.
‘?When I saw it was the same price for six units, I figured I might
as well not waste money and take another class,’ Auerbach said.
What’s in it for
Many professors elect to teach during the summer term because of the
additional income it provides them on top of their fall and spring
‘?The advantage of the sessions being six weeks is that there is
still time left in the summer to work on my own research and spend more
time with my family,’ said Christopher Shortell, political science
professor. ‘?(The pay) is absolutely the primary reason why I teach
‘?From a salary standpoint, summer provides me with, what for people
in the corporate world (would call), a Christmas bonus, only for me it
is a summer bonus,’ said James Mitchell, political science professor.
‘?I like to travel, so (summer term) funds travel and any other
For many professors, teaching an additional class over the summer
can sometimes help fund their daughter’s college tuition or even help
to support the income of a single mother.
‘?I teach summer session to earn money for my daughter’s college
tuition,’ McClave said.
Like McClave, Tosh also depends on the additional inco
‘?I need a job,’ Tosh said.’ ‘?I’m a single mother and (I) can’t
afford to take summers off.’
Sociology professor Vickie Jenson said that for many professors who
do not get paid as much as they would need or like, teaching summer
session is a way to supplement their incomes.
Whatever the reason, students and teachers are attending and
teaching summer session, and the result of taking additional units is a
closer graduation date for many’ ‘ students.
‘?When people will be complaining about taking another semester of
classes, I’ll just smile because summer school got me to Italy faster,’