Summer. These two fleeting months have long been eagerly anticipated by students anxious to escape the stuffy classroom and soak up the sun. In past generations, students typically spent these months lounging at the community pool, playing sports or perhaps working a summer job.
Not so today. Increasingly, keen students are opting to take summer classes—sacrificing freedom and leisure for the academic benefits of getting a head start on next year’s learning.
Of course, “summer school” has always been a rite of passage for the student who needed remediation to recover a credit. The trend has definitely shifted, however, in favour of students voluntarily completing credits over the summer to gain an academic edge.
Becky is one of those students. The fifteen-year-old from Toronto is just weeks away from finishing her first year of high school but is already planning on taking Grade 10 English in July to strengthen her writing skills. “I had a great teacher last year,” she says, “but with almost thirty students in my class, I didn’t get as much feedback as I would have liked on the drafts of my essays. Summer school classes are usually a lot smaller, so you get more focused attention from the teacher.”
Seventeen-year-old Ahmed agrees. He will begin his final year of high school in September and chose to take Grade 12 Advanced Functions this summer for the additional support that students enjoy in smaller summer classes. “I’m pretty strong in math, but I need to complete both Advanced Functions and Calculus and Vectors for Queen’s Commerce. There’s no way that I could earn top marks taking both courses next year, especially since my school isn’t semestered, so I would have to take both classes at the same time. This way, I can focus on Advanced Functions this summer, do really well and then ease my course work for next year.”
These kinds of strategic choices are increasingly necessary to gain admission to fiercely competitive university programs. Queen’s Bachelor of Commerce, Ahmed’s first choice, receives over 7 0000 applications every year for less than 500 available spots in its first-year class. Other coveted programs in business, science and engineering at universities in Ontario and across Canada are equally competitive and often demand marks in the high 80s and even into the 90s.
In this hyper-competitive climate, summer school offers definite advantages. Smaller classes allow for more interaction and support from the teacher, which tends to bolster confidence and performance. The condensed timeline of a summer course can also offer an immersive and more rewarding learning experience. Finally, a summer course can help to lighten next year’s course load, reducing stress and focusing academic energies on the courses that matter most for university admission.
For those interested in earning a credit this summer, Forest Hill Tutoring offers secondary school credit courses through individual and small-group instruction. Each July and August, dozens of students take advantage of the flexibility and instructional benefits of our Academy courses. Give us a call to discuss your summer learning goals!