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Opinion State of our Education

Opinion: Summer Courses Allow Students to Discover Passions

As summer rapidly approaches, M-A students, especially incoming upperclassmen, should view the break from school as a way to continue learning and exploring possible pursuits beyond high school. By no means does this mean that a student’s schedule must be filled up with academic programs throughout the two and a half months of summer; rather, students should consider supplementing their high school education with summer courses to gain a sense of what they are interested in outside of school.

One course offered at M-A during the whole month of June is Calculus AB, which students use to skip from Pre-Calculus directly to Calculus BC. Incoming juniors and seniors have the option of coming to school from 8-12 a.m. for another four weeks after school ends in order to learn the Calculus AB curriculum in a fast-paced rigorous class. A few current sophomores expressed their motives behind enrolling in the class despite losing some of their summer.

Rising junior Jake Quinn said, “I am taking Calculus AB over the summer because I heard it was a fun course and that you learn a lot. I also heard that the teachers were good and many of my friends are in the course.” For Quinn, the summer program is not only a way to increase his knowledge, but also an opportunity to put himself in an enjoyable learning environment because of his friends and his enthusiasm to continue learning. By focusing on the positive aspects of the class rather than the negatives, namely losing summer time for vacation or other activities, Quinn can get the best results out of the course, instead of having regrets about using his time unwisely.

Another incoming junior, Sajel Galhotra, plans to take the Calculus AB summer program as well as a supplementary statistics course outside of M-A. Galhotra voiced similar reasons for enrolling in the class including, “staying with [her] friends and getting to Multivariable Calculus.” In regards to the statistics course, she said, “I think it will help me to learn and practice skills for the SAT, and statistics may be a possible career path for me.”

In Galhotra’s case, the statistics class allows her to explore her interests as she “may want to pursue a career with statistics.” Although she recognized that the Calculus AB course would consume the first month of her summer, Galhotra said, “I considered taking calculus online instead so that I could travel. However, I decided against it because I heard often times people don’t learn as much from online courses.” After weighing the pros and cons of each decision, Galhotra elected to take the class in the best interest of her education.

Max Gerber, also a future junior, provided an interesting perspective on the Calculus AB summer course, having taken the class last summer: “By advancing in math through the summer course, it allows me to go further in math in high school and work on college classes.” The summer program benefited Gerber because it allowed him to work on more advanced classes that relate to his possible career interests. On why he has taken summer classes, Gerber said, “Because they are interesting and I like math.” He added, “I want to go into something with engineering, so any math classes are beneficial to this goal.”

For Gerber, the math classes he took over the summer helped both to hone his focus on his college and career interests, and to free up his summer this year for activities like the Global Leaders Guatemala trip.

Quinn and Galhotra both experienced some disappointment when they learned that the Calculus AB program would conflict with much of their summer, however they both deemed taking the class worthwhile for their education. Quinn said, “[The Calculus AB course] interferes with the Florio trip to Europe which would have been fun to go on. Additionally the class interferes with my running schedule [for cross country] and pushes it later in the day. It is slightly annoying and will make summer a struggle for the first month but it should be worth it because I will be able to expand my knowledge of math and it will help me in my search for something I am interested in.”

Overall, while summer courses may take away vacation time from students, they understand the benefits to their future beyond high school. More students should be encouraged to explore summer programs to discover where their interests lie. One problem in advertising these courses in the past has been a focus on how the classes will benefit a student’s résumé. Rather, schools should promote summer classes by emphasizing the opportunity they give students to discover a career focus.

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