While lectures, quizzes and papers are far from the minds of many college students during the summer break, some students at the University of South Dakota are taking advantage of summer courses.
With over 120 courses offered beginning as early as May 13, USD students are finding many reasons to take advantage of the summer school program.
For first-year Harry Han, who has opted to stay in Vermillion instead of going home to China, will be taking summer courses to finish his mandatory science credits.
“I just want to get these classes out of the way,” Han said. “I’ll be homesick, but I’ll go home next summer.”
Steve Ward, director of the Academic Career and Advising Center, said summer courses are an ideal way for students to keep their minds focused whether they be on-campus or online.
“(Summer school) is a good way for students to stay intellectually connected to the university,” Ward said. “A lot of times, students take a course during the summer that won’t take to much time, or even courses they are worried about, and they often take those courses online.”
Ward pointed towards the Fundamentals of Speech class offered online as a course many students often choose to “get out of the way” during the summer.
“Far too many students worry about taking speech here on campus,” Ward said. “So they choose to take it online over the summer.”
Aside from being a time-saving tool, the USD summer school program features a variety of undergraduate and graduate opportunities for those looking to gain a little extra.
“It can certainly help certain students graduate in a smaller amount of time,” Ward said. “And anything that can help students feel like they are staying on a path to graduation I’m all for.”
However, Susan Hackemer, associate director of the USD Honors program, said school courses are not for everyone.
“It’s very dependent on a student’s needs,” Hackner said. “I don’t encourage it for a student who is right on schedule, especially if there is something more important they can do with their summer.”
Hackemer referenced internships, study abroad programs and research programs as things she likes students to pursue during the summer.
As for on-campus courses, Ward said he would like to see that aspect of the summer school be utilized more.
Courses are not the only thing offered to USD students over the summer.
USD Graduate School’s director of programming Gary Girard said there are serveral key audiences the university directs its summer school programming towards.
“Summer school seems to meet the needs of about three or four primary audiences,” Girard said. “Obvioulsy courses are offered at undergraduate and graduate level to help students excel their degrees. Other programs include summer workshops for K-12 teachers, Early Scholars, and departments offer their own separate programs over the summers that students in each program is encouraged to partake in.”
Courses are also offered at Higher Education Centers in Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Sioux City, Iowa.
While off-campus courses are often utilized more than on-campus, Girard said there are benefits to staying in Vermillion over the summer break.
“We want to maintain a vibrant campus all year long so there are definitely benefits to stay on campus,” Girard said. “The class sizes are usually smaller and for students who wish to take certain courses that are more intensive, summer is a good time to take those.”