Make the Most of a Graduate School Summer Semester

Dr. Lyne Ssebikindu
Dr. Lyne Ssebikindu
Retired elementary school principal; Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction
An older student sits in a lecture hall, taking notes.

Taking Advantage of the Summer Semester

As a Student

A graduate school summer semester help support and engage students in their learning. Summertime allows these graduate students to close the gap that might have been created during the spring and fall semester.

Most students looking to attend grad school in summer, whether for a master’s degree or doctoral degree, are motivated by career advancement or a desire to change careers. The new report released by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows an increase in college graduates in 2020-21 academic year (Weissman, 2022).

As an Institution

The pandemic allowed us to re-examine how we address our graduate students; it is extremely important for the future of higher education to prepare for enrichment summer school. Higher education institutions must also address the needs of their new graduate students.

The best time to address those needs are during the summer when most educators have more of a break. Many graduate students, regardless of concentration, are first-generation college students, adult learners, or students with disabilities. If universities need to focus on written and oral communication skills, the best time to do this is during the summer semester.

Summer programs can be promoted through organic marketing efforts, emails, and social media. Individuals can begin to share the program with their contacts, resulting in many more contacts. Our focus should be on the student to facilitate summer learning. As more and more students seek graduate degrees and grad school, universities need to focus more on methods that apply to academics.

Colleges and universities must frame efforts to address barriers to teaching and learning. An effective and sustainable collaborative infrastructure should exist between the university and the student. If this happens, there would be a great deal of student satisfaction.

Benefits of the Summer Semester

More Availability

Summertime is an excellent time to do graduate studies; most of the time graduate students use the summer semester to catch up on their studies. Students use this time for professional development, writing their thesis, and analyzing data. Beginner grad students use summer programs to get used to their coursework.

During the summer, meetings and classes slow down at work for teachers specifically, so this is a good time to catch up on your courses if you are one. Summer allows students and instructors to recover from the spring and fall semesters. For example, most teachers are free during the summer; this gives these participants much more flexibility to do their education grad school coursework. They can watch and participate in their lessons through YouTube, Academic Central, and other platforms.

The pandemic deeply affected students’ ability to work in groups. During the summer semester, students get more of a chance to work in study groups. This is a good way to increase student motivation. Students benefit from more interactions because they have more time.

Professional Development Opportunities

Summertime is a good time to slot in professional development alongside your graduate courses. There are several free workshops you can attend with no pressure. Also, there are several training institutes students can attend for free or a minimum fee.

Some of the professional development being offered during the summer are:

  • Intensive seminars
  • Supervised research
  • Study courses

Research Time

Graduate students can use summertime to write their thesis or dissertation. They can plan their study, contact their advisor, and do a lot of reading. Students can use this time to catch up on the latest articles in their study area. Summer courses are sometimes shorter and smaller than those taught in spring or fall.

This is also a great time to collaborate with your peers. There are several programs offered during the summer. These include summer enrichment programs, research, mentoring programs, and service-learning opportunities in the community.

Personal Wellness and Self-Care

The best way to prepare for your summer is to have a plan. Write down what tasks you need to accomplish and have a deadline for each task. In your summer schedule, make sure you designate time for self-care alongside your classes.

We need to consider that students of all ages, including graduate students, are dealing with personal stress, domestic issues, mental health concerns, aging parents, their children, or other concerns. This can be a threat to our education system at all levels.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we live, from our work life to our home life. The pandemic created a lot of problems we had never encountered. Two years later, we still need to practice self-care. When we take care of our personal needs, we can be more productive. Self-care includes finding activities that promotes your emotional and mental health well-being.

Summertime is a great time to travel, visit friends, and try new hobbies to promote good mental health. There is a lot of recent research on self-care, especially for educators, and avoiding teacher burnout. This is a good time to take care of your own needs as you also work to advance your career.

Some self-care strategies include the following:

Exercise

Attend Zumba, dance workouts, or gym classes. Exercise releases endorphins, increase energy, and help you to focus.

Creativity

Doing something creative can make you feel good. You can come up with projects like cooking, painting, writing, reading, and more.

Diet

Limit your intake of junk food. Instead, try to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Improving your eating habits will tremendously help how you feel in general!

Adequate Breaks

Summertime can reduce or boost productivity. During summertime your brain needs a break, so take time to relax and enjoy yourself even if grinding away at another degree.

Interested in a graduate degree? Explore 190+ available masters, doctorates, endorsements, and certifications to advance your career today!

References
Silvia, P.J.(2007). How to write a lot: A practical guide to productive academic writing. Washington, D.C. American Psychological Association.
Weissman,S.(2022). New Report Says College Graduates Increased in 2020-21. Inside Higher Education.
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