Summer school can be an exciting time, but knowing what to expect will save you a lot of trouble and ensure a successful study experience. The following tips will help any international student make the best out of his or her summer studies abroad.
1. Set the right goals
Summer courses come in all kinds of different forms and degrees of complexity, so it’s a good idea to decide what exactly you are looking for before applying. If you are looking for an easier summer learning experience, pick a subject familiar to you and study it in greater depth.
For a more challenging approach, choose a new subject or the one you have been struggling with during the past year. Take a single class and focus on it, in order to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed by new information.
Consider how many hours you want to spend in class every day. Generally, the average daily learning duration is 4 hours. Most programs last 1 to 4 weeks. Keep in mind that science modules usually require more contact hours than arts and humanities modules.
2. Keep the schedule
Even if you have picked a less demanding summer course, attending classes is necessary if you want to complete the program successfully. A single missed class may make it difficult to catch up on missed work in the short study duration. As most summer courses include regular tests, skipping classes will reflect in your assessment outcomes.
3. Be prepared for some extra work
Some summer school classes require students to read additional materials before class, while others expect you to conduct extensive reading before the beginning of the course. Teachers suggest articles or book chapters to support classroom discussions. Brush up on your speed-reading and make sure you organise in advance. You may also have to prepare summaries, essays, short presentations, and so on.
Summer courses are shorter than regular academic modules, so teachers will focus on the most important aspects of a subject. This might make your work easier for language or art classes, but technical or science-oriented courses could get intense, as skipping stages makes it more difficult to follow the steps of a logical argument.
For example, Hector School of Engineering and Management provides a wide range of technology summer school courses to select.
4. Prepare for interactive learning
Summer programmes usually have a high level of student-teacher interaction. As class sizes are considerably smaller, teachers can dedicate more time to every student. Feel free to ask questions and share your insights. Practical activities will test your social and group-work skills, and encourage you to share your thoughts with the other students.
You will be engaging in a wide variety of learning activities such as:
- class assignments
- projects documentary screenings
- real life scenarios
- field trips
- group exercises
Some courses will actually take you through a complete research process: beginning with posing a scientific question, gathering data, testing the hypothesis and presenting the findings.
Enjoy your own interactive study experience by picking one of the summer courses offered by the University of Sussex.
5. Take regular assessments
Some summer courses include assessments very similar to the regular academic year classes. Expectations can be high, so don’t underestimate tests. Most teachers conduct weekly assessments.
Depending on the course, criteria of final assessment may include:
- Attendance level
- Participation in class discussions
- Completed assignments
- Exams or workshops
- Written essays
- Completed projects
Exams may consist of multiple-choice questions, data interpretation, a structured written paper or an oral discussion on a given subject.
6. Don’t forget to have fun!
Almost all summer courses provide activities that enable you to get acquainted with the cultural life in the country. Visit museums, attend concerts or participate in local events. Depending on your study location, you can visit the mountains or seaside, explore famous capitals and popular tourist attractions.
Tours in industry relevant companies are not uncommon. You will also be able to enjoy opening ceremonies, sporting activities, barbeques, picnics, movie nights, parties, and more.
Remember that going to a summer school is a lot about making good friends with other students from all over the world. So don’t be shy and stay open for new people and experiences!