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“Just take a summer class” and why it’s not that simple

Last semester, I planned to take a class during the summer.

I researched nearby schools that offered the class I was looking for and came up with a couple of comparable options. After calling each of the schools for extensive details, going through their online course catalogs, messaging the professors and acquiring information on the cost of the class, I figured I was ready to get my summer course approved. I emailed the academic representative at Case Western Reserve University and received a one-sentence email that informed me that the university does not accept web-based courses.

Considering I already had an internship for the summer, I figured an online course would be the easiest to take, but I was still undeterred. I went back online to do more research, finding a couple of courses that I could take in person in my hometown or somewhere close enough to drive to. I ended up on the phone with multiple student offices at different schools and even directly with a couple of the professors to hear about their specific classes. This research took place over several days and took up hours of my time. Once I had finally secured the syllabuses to these in-person courses, I sent them over to the academic representative again for review, and received another one-sentence email: I needed a daily syllabus with the topics that would be covered.

This was surprising to me for two reasons. One, not all professors include daily information on their syllabuses, and two, taking the course at a different school would not even give me a letter grade in the class at CWRU—instead, I would only receive credit if I managed to pass the class with a grade of C or higher

After learning all this, I decided to look into what taking the course at CWRU would be like—and if it would even be beneficial for me to take another class altogether. What I found was shocking: I would have to pay an exorbitant amount of money out-of-pocket in order to take any summer classes at all. For the summer of 2023, the price per credit hour was $1,272 for courses numbered 100 to 399. This is the 50%-reduced rate, yet for a single four-credit class, this already puts a student at $5,088. This doesn’t even cover the on-campus costs for room and board if you were to stay at school over the summer. You would have to pay for your living arrangements and food

During summer 2023, there were no meal plan options for on-campus students. Additionally, the dining hall hours were significantly reduced, with most places opening around 8 a.m. and closing around 2 p.m. A friend of mine mentioned having to get food via delivery or by paying a rideshare fee to grab groceries because she doesn’t have a car. Moreover, the retail shuttle that runs on the weekend during the school year wasn’t in service during the summer, a great disservice to students who stayed on campus.

One of the biggest problems associated with taking summer classes is the cost. Many professors seem oblivious to the high cost of this school, often telling my classmates to take an online class during the summer if they were unable to get the class they wanted during the regular academic terms—even if they were behind schedule in their studies and needed the course for their major.

A friend of mine recently shared an email one of her professors sent her after she voiced, in detail, her concerns about not being able to take a class she needs in order to graduate. The professor callously told her she should just take the class during the summer because, after all, the rates would be reduced anyway. I don’t know who these professors think we are or what kind of money we have, but 47% of CWRU students are on financial aid. Sure, we can take summer classes, but that means we’ll graduate with mountains of debt. Heaping on extra money and time instead of working with students individually to create an accurate—and attainable—four-year plan should not be the way our school promotes education.

Additionally, I don’t know many people who want to spend their summers taking classes that they need in order to graduate school in the traditional four-year time span. Summers are supposed to be spent gaining real-world exposure. While college is incredibly important in allowing students to gain knowledge and experience away from the family and friend bubbles established in middle school and high school, it lacks some of the integral parts of experience in a certain career path that only an internship or job can provide. How are we supposed to use the summer to gain experience that we can apply to our future careers if we’re playing catchup with summer classes we can’t afford?

Older adults in established career paths love to say, “Enjoy your life now before you have a nine-to-five. Enjoy your summers before you join the workforce permanently and find out what having a real job is like.” But let’s be serious: Overloading on college credits during the summer or being forced to remain on campus to take a class stops students from enjoying this supposed “young-adulthood freedom” that we’re expected to be so grateful for.

No student should have to take a summer course because there weren’t enough seats during registration for them to get a course necessary for their major. No student should have to take a summer course on campus when they only see their family and hometown friends two to three times a year. No student should have to spend an exorbitant amount of money to take classes at inconvenient times at an already overpriced university—and no student should be thwarted time and time again when they try to take classes elsewhere and have them transferred over.

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About the Contributor
Hannah Johnson
Hannah Johnson, Copy Editor

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