First, don’t let me mislead anyone, summer classes are alive and well at your Salem Community College. We encourage graduating high school seniors to take a course with us before going away to school. Perhaps that college Algebra class you are dreading, or maybe the Western Civilization course you thought would require more dedicated time, and maybe, if you are adventurous, that American Lit course you thought would be intriguing. Similarly, if you are home for the summer from a four-year college, take advantage of this window of opportunity.
When we hit the summer months, which unofficially starts with Memorial Day weekend, there is a tendency to mentally revert to being a third grader embracing the summer as a time of unbridled freedom, with free play the only requisite. Summers were always that window to do all the things the school inhibited you from doing during the year. There is something magical about the summer months.
Have you ever taken a course during the summer? There is definitely a different air to it, a different texture to the work you do, and a more engaged and relaxed classroom. It’s not that the course objectives are any different, or the syllabi requirements are altered. The simple truth is that we have a different mindset. With daylight lasting into night, or seemingly so, we tend to allocate the hours differently. In the summer, there is always time to get things done. However, because it’s summer, we usually don’t want to do them.
If you aren’t taking any summer courses, just read. There is nothing more educationally substantive than reading a book. Make it something you don’t normally pursue. If you love romance novels, pick out a biography on a past president or major political figure. If you have a tendency to enjoy historical fiction, particularly Civil War literature, pick up a non-fiction work about science. For me, I am about to endeavor The Guns of August which is a treatment of World War I, a milestone historical event with which I am only “sophomore-in-high-school” familiar. It is unlikely I will become a scholar on the Ottoman Empire as a result of this reading, but I will be more knowledgeable than I am today. Perhaps some of the world’s turmoil will make more sense to me as a result.
Summer is a great time to read, learn, and prepare for the year ahead. And you get to do it under your own terms (for the most part). I urge everyone to take time to learn something new this summer. Explore, expand your horizons, and immerse yourself in your own education.