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Students home from college take summer courses at W&M

  • Summer classes
    Summer classes  Each year, dozens of university students who are home for the summer take advantage of William and Mary's summer courses, which are offered in two five-week sessions.  
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Each year, dozens of university students who are home for the summer take advantage of William and Mary’s summer courses, which are offered in two five-week sessions. The first session begins May 29. Classes range from microeconomics and general physics to elementary Spanish and playwriting.

This summer, with a tight job market and fewer summer internships available, it can make a lot of sense for college students to plug in courses needed for their majors – or try something completely new.

“Summer school courses offer students the chance to take small, focused classes with lots of personal attention from and interaction with professors,” said Summer School Coordinator Giulia Pacini. “The credits taken here will transfer pretty much anywhere.”

Last summer, for example, biology major Harrison Kyte faced a heavy course load at Lynchburg College.

“To get into optometry school, Harrison needed to get a good grade in organic chemistry,” said Kyte's mom, Debbi. “By taking the class last summer at William and Mary, he was able to concentrate his full attention on this harder course without needing to worry about other classes at the same time. For Harrison, summer school offered a great combination of getting needed coursework done while still having time to work and enjoy the summer.”

Toby Eisenberg, a chemistry major at Duke University, took Organic Chemistry 2 and Calculus 2 last summer and found the coursework to be on par with what she’d done the previous semester at Duke.

“I wanted to continue to take my science requirements without having a break, and I wanted to get these courses out of the way,” she said. “It turned out to be the best of both worlds. I could focus on the courses in the morning and still have time to enjoy being home with my friends and family in the afternoon.”

Eisenberg said her parents were glad to have her home – and pay in-state tuition rather than private school rates. Debbi Kyte was also happy with the financial advantages.

“With so many classes and labs, it can be a challenge to complete the science requirements in four years,” she said. “Taking one or two classes over the summer is better than paying another semester to complete the degree, especially since we were just paying tuition and not room and board.”

While some summer students take courses to fulfill college requirements, others choose to use the opportunity to try something new.

“Public speaking and history courses, as well as foreign language and creative writing courses are all popular,” said Pacini. “Students sometimes sign up to work in our archaeological field schools, and also offer some innovative interdisciplinary classes. ‘Emergent Dialogues,’ for example, brings together art and complex systems theory. Students actually create sculptures that interact with the Lake Matoaka Woods. Occasionally, area high school students take Math 103 and 106 to get a jump on college courses.”

Emma Clarke, an English literature major at Wheaton College in Illinois, decided to attend summer school to make up some missing credits after a college transfer.

“Being local, I always wanted to take a class at William and Mary,” said Clarke, who took American literature last summer. “It was a great experience. I was impressed with how knowledgeable the instructor was and the personal attention I received. The professor was always willing to stay after class to answer questions. Taking the class helped me graduate on time.”

Clarke said she would certainly recommend William and Mary’s summer school to others.

“Just do it. It makes a lot of sense. It is worth the time, and it is really very affordable,” she said.

Eisenberg agreed, “It was one of the best decisions I made all summer. I just recommended the idea to a friend, who is going to take a course this summer.”

For more information on courses offered this summer and how to register, visit: