By Stephanie Marcus
Gone are the days of high school, when summer classes meant punishment for a year’s worth of slacking off. Students taking spring and summer courses through the Chang School of Continuing Education see it as more of a GPA booster than a drain on their vacation.
Most programs at Ryerson require students to take five classes each semester with a mix of program mandates and liberal electives. This can be a difficult juggling act for many students, like second-year architecture student Reuben Lopez. He says he is thankful he took summer courses last year to alleviate the stress of multiple essays and exams.
“Taking an elective in the summer made this year so much easier. I have friends taking five classes, and they have seven assignments due in a week and a half, including some major final tests.”
Lopez said he found his summer classes to be easier because he had more time to focus. In order to make next fall less hectic, he is taking another upper level liberal arts this spring.
Classes taken in the spring and summer semesters count toward a student’s GPA the same way they would if they were taken in the fall or winter, Desmond Glynn, program director of arts courses for the Chang School said.
Course outlines are the same regardless of what semester they are taken in, adds Alana Butler, an instructor at Ryerson who is teaching a liberal elective this spring.
But why are students who have taken summer continuing education courses say they’re easier?
The Chang School’s marketing of the spring and summer course selection gives off a fun-loving vibe. The course listings for spring and summer 2007 are bound with a bright yellow cover with a blue flip-flop sandal on it.
The fact that this might send the message summer classes are a vacation “never even crossed our minds,” said Janet Hercz, director of marketing and communications at the Chang School, whose department is responsible for the design. “We just tied the calendar to the theme of the season, like when we used an umbrella in the fall.”
Hercz said that while her department has yet to research student attitudes toward summer classes, she said that she has never heard of students assuming spring and summer courses to be less challenging.
Butler argues that the compressed classes, which run only seven weeks, can actually make courses tougher.
“You often have mid-terms coming up in week three and papers due in week four. It can be difficult having that many assignments,” she says.
Trellaney Opara agrees the time constraints do add stress to the classes. Opara, a third-year business student, is enrolled in three courses this spring and another in the summer, getting all her electives out of the way.
“I’ve heard that before, that if you are going to take anything difficult, take it in the summer if you can. I don’t know if it’s true, but that’s what everyone thinks. Maybe professors mark a little easier, because it’s summer, but there is no way to really tell,” Opara said. Glynn says there is absolutely no difference in teaching or marking between semesters.
“Most of the instructors who teach in the spring also teach that same course in the fall. And most of the instructors have taught at Ryerson for on average at least three of four years. We bring the same standards, regardless of the semester.”
This was echoed by Butler who said instructors take summer classes just as seriously. The season doesn’t change how they are marking.