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My Summer School Experience: The Verdict

Girl reading book on the grass

I chose to do summer school simply because I had nothing planned for the holidays and didn’t want to waste another three months being unproductive. I took two subjects, and together the units ran from the end of November until mid-February.

Prior to my last minute decision, I’d already booked a weeklong holiday, so I missed out on a week of lectures, which I discovered is equivalent to missing three weeks of lectures in a standard semester time. I also work part-time as a barista, and summer is our busiest period, so I was rostered on for full time hours. During summer school, my typical day looked a bit like this...

5am – wake up and stumble around

6am – start work with droopy eyes

8am – burn self with milk steamer

9am – drop something

12pm – finish work, get changed and run to the train station

1:20pm – arrive at university

1:30pm – lecture starts

1:50pm – why is time moving so slow

2pm – fall asleep

3pm – get picked to answer a question mid-yawn

4pm – laptop battery getting low

5:30pm – leave lecture with 5% laptop battery left and head home to have dinner and take a great big nap

Rinse and repeat.

In late January, work eased up and I began to actually enjoy having structure to my life while all my friends were lazing around and forgetting what day of the week it was. I missed out on an opportunity to work at a law firm because I had unrecorded lectures on the days they wanted me to work. I also missed out on an all-expenses paid 5-day trip in Japan, courtesy of mum’s generous work because my last exam was the day after the flight was scheduled to leave. However, I did manage to complete my optional assignments and get good marks on both, which gave me a much-needed confidence boost.

I know a lot of my friends were surprised upon hearing that I was taking two summer units, and often asked my opinion on whether it was a good idea. After my experience this year, I made a list of pros and cons:


  • You get rid of a subject, so…

  • In a few years you’ll love yourself for taking that subject

  • I found that cramming the classes intensively helped me with understanding how the concepts fit together

  • Lecturers are generally sympathetic of the fact that you’re taking a summer unit

  • Classes are smaller


  • 4 hour lectures mean that it’s easier to get distracted, miss out on key information, and if you’re a laptop user, your primary note-taking device may not last through the lecture

  • There was one horrid 40-degree day where the air conditioning broke down and our group sat in darkness, sweating and trying to concentrate on family law.

  • Trying to find motivation to go to class while everyone’s at the beach

It wasn’t always easy going to class when everyone else is on holidays, but the next time summer rolls around, I’d definitely recommend studying a summer school unit.

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