Credit: Annabelle Zhang

WSPN’s Katya Luzarraga and Kally Proctor discuss the pros and cons of summer classes.

Two-sided opinion: Summer classes

June 11, 2022

In this side-by-side opinion piece, Editor Katya Luzarraga and WSPN’s Kally Proctor share their opinions about the benefits and disadvantages to summer classes. Click here to learn more about summer break at WHS.

Explore your passions: Take summer classes

Summer break is a time for students to relax and have fun, but also an opportunity to explore subjects that they’re actually passionate about and help prepare for the year ahead. And what better way to do that than with summer classes?

Now, you may be thinking, “Why would I want to take classes during summer break after a whole school year of learning, homework and tests?” However, many students actually choose to take optional courses during the summer for a variety of reasons, including to learn more about a subject they’re interested in, to get a head start on the next school year or just for fun.

While I, as well as many other students, may not enjoy all of their classes, most kids will have one or two subjects that they’re really interested in. For many, summer break presents an opportunity to dive deeper into subjects students are passionate about and work on things that they might not have gotten the chance to during the school year.

Whether it’s a different language, a specific science course or yes, even a math class, summer classes can provide students with a relatively low-stress way to learn about something they want to know more about. I still remember the many creative writing courses I took over the course of summer break when I was younger. For me, as well as other students, these classes were different from the ones you take in school because you got to choose what area you wanted to learn about.

In addition, summer classes allow you to pursue your passions without the long hours, heavy workload and stress that school classes involve. During the school year, many students don’t get the chance to pursue other passions due to a lack of free time. When you’re an adult, there’s often even less time to explore your interests. The older you get, the more responsibilities you have and the less free time you have, so it’s important to take the chance to explore the things you’re interested in now.

Another big reason students want to take summer classes is to prepare for the year ahead. I find it beneficial to start working on some of the things I know I’ll learn next school year. Whether I just want to get a head start in a particular subject, or I want to prepare myself for a subject I know that I might struggle with later on, taking summer classes actually helps me feel less stressed during the school year.

Many students, myself included, often describe themselves as feeling stressed or burnt out during the school year, especially by the end of it. However, by taking summer courses on certain subjects, I’ve actually been able to reduce that feeling during the school year. Because I already know some of the topics, I’m not having to learn that information for the first time while also dealing with a fast-paced, stressful schedule.

Of course, summer courses are completely optional! You can choose what courses you want to take based on what appeals to you the most, or even just on what subjects seem fun. Some might think that summer classes bring the same kind of strain and rigid structure as those in the school year, the exact opposite of how most people want to spend their summer break. However, summer classes are generally much more flexible.

As opposed to classes during the school year, summer classes often have a lighter workload, take up a lot less time and are generally more carefree. There are often options for classes that take place later in the afternoon so that students on summer break can still sleep in, which, of course, is a major plus of summer vacation. Because the classes generally only focus on one subject, they can be as short as an hour or less, leaving you plenty of time to participate in other activities.

Many summer classes are similar to camps. Students can take these classes to have fun and make new friends while bonding over a shared interest. These courses give students the opportunity to branch out, connect with other students and find people who are passionate about the same subjects they are.

Summer classes are certainly a great way to pursue topics of interest, especially those that students may not be able to take part in during the school year. While students are crammed with information over the school year, summer classes can offer an easier way to learn and help kids get ahead in their upcoming school year. With all the benefits that summer classes provide, why not take advantage of that?

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The well-deserved summer break preserves students’ sanity

The sun is shining down on your pale, vitamin D deprived skin as you lounge by the pool with your friends. Sleeping in until 11 o’clock in the morning is the new normal, and why shouldn’t it be since you’re on summer vacation? You’re finally able to get rid of the unrealistic expectations which have been so meticulously built up on you throughout the school year. Summer is a time to breathe, think and unwind in the fresh air. No matter how “high-performing” our teachers and parents may think we are, we deserve the two short months allotted to us in the summer to get our sanity back.

Even though there are so many activities to do during the summer, many students choose to squander their free time by taking summer classes. We learn enough during the year, so we definitely don’t need to take more subjects during our “off-season” from school.

School used to be a place that felt creative and exciting, but the older you get, the more you realize that school is taxing, to say the least. What happened to getting a gold star for turning in your homework on time, or even simply writing your name on your homework? When you’re that young, you don’t realize how valuable summer vacation is.

Throughout the school year, students have burnt themselves out trying to complete a copious amount of homework assignments. Forced to complete these assignments in a certain amount of time, students are subconsciously copying textbook answers or rushing through their work, not able to fully absorb what they are learning.

Teachers have consistently preached the power of hard work and dedication. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way that dedication has simmered down into defeat. There has not been a moment in the last two years where I haven’t wanted to throw my hands up and admit that I’m tired.

I may be speaking for myself at this moment, but I can bet that many of my peers are feeling just as mentally exhausted as I am. This is one of the many symptoms of student burnout. It’s naive to believe that our bodies and our brains can function all year-round without any repercussions, and that is precisely why we deserve a break in the summer. If you overwork your brain, you are causing more harm to yourself, even if you give yourself credit for “pushing through.”

Summer vacation should be a guaranteed break for students to look forward to. In the elementary levels, recreational camps during the summer provide a chance for younger students to continue expanding their world knowledge without being confined to the classroom. This is crucial, as their brains are still developing and soaking up everything around them.

For older students, we have been expected to try our hardest our entire high school career, and we need a break. As the workload increases, so does the looming stress and anxiety regarding college applications, jobs and entering the real world. Without summer vacation, our connection to each other would falter and our priorities would shift towards academic achievement which, ultimately, is not where our priorities should be.

Students learn so much throughout the school year, from trigonometry to conjugating foreign languages. There is no shortage of information that is taught, and each year, teachers continue to pile up the information until we are grown adults. It’s valid to assume that not all of this information is absorbed at once when teachers expect us to. During the summer, we have time to process what has been taught to us, and apply this knowledge when we stumble upon something we are unsure of.

All of our pent-up stress is released right as summer break begins. We are able to sleep in later and wake up later, making us feel more well-rested. The opportunity to choose how to spend your day is one of the best perks of summer, and that wouldn’t be possible if you were taking summer classes.

Late-nights at the beach with friends or whole family dinners are such treasured memories, and cutting those experiences short to wake up for summer class the next day is not worth it.

When you look back on your childhood, you’re not going to remember the tests that you flunked or how late you stayed up to finish a project. You are going to remember the friends who stood by you through every unflattering phase in your life, jumping over waves that are taller than you and the pure serenity of talking with your loved ones late into the night.

While summer classes may allow you to pursue your passions without the time commitment that school classes involve, isn’t that what the rest of your life is for? When you are an adult, there isn’t an allotted time where you can just “take a break for the summer.” The older you get, the more society demands of you. So, while you have the chance, you need to prioritize your mental health and happiness by taking time to relax with the people you love.

Summer break simply makes sense. When it’s warm outside, the natural reaction is to want to spend time outside and soak up the elusive New England sun. These serotonin-laced moments cannot be taught by teachers who shove tests down your throat. The thrill of summer vacation needs to be experienced firsthand in your youth while you still have time. Summer is when you can escape your problems, not solve them with a number two pencil.

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