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The Squirrel’s guide to surviving summer school

I have more summer terms under my belt than I imagine the average U of T student does. Even so, I still couldn’t tell you whether I consider the session to be better or equal to the fall and winter sessions —academically of course. Still, the experience is different and also bears the ability to set a new ‘norm’ that will carry you through the session, and the rest of your degree as a whole.  Here are my tips:

  1. Take courses you LIKE

I know you’ve heard that the shortness of the summer session make it the perfect time to take the courses you want to get over with. Wrong! I’d bet that the courses you hate are not the courses you’re the best at. For the sake of your GPA — and a pleasant summer — pick courses that you enjoy.

  1. Switch things up! 

Do not study at home! I can’t stress this enough. The most intelligent people I’ve met at U of T will tell you not to study in your room. It’s nice out, so be smart and take advantage of the weather to explore new coffee shops and study spaces.

  1. Set a routine

When speaking to first-time summer school attendees, the speed of the courses seems to entice more people than it scares away. Don’t get me wrong; I was the same.  I remember asking myself, “But will they really make us cover all the same topics as the fall and winter sessions?”

The answer? I don’t know, but I’ll tell you that it’s no walk in the park. You’ll have a lot to balance in a very short amount of time, including the obligatory summer fun activities. You’re going to need a routine and learn to budget your time effectively.

  1. Get enough sleep

In the age of self-love, care, and help, it surprises me that sleep consistently gets the short end of the stick in our attempts to balance wellness, school, and a social life. With the livelihood of the Toronto summer nights, the temptation to cut down on sleep to keep up with school and friends is amplified. Sleep is not optional. Caffeine is not ‘sleep.’

  1. Make friends

Missing a lecture in the summer does not equate to missing a lecture in during the regular year — courses are covering more and going a lot faster in each lecture. You will need someone to fill you in, even if the slides are posted on Quercus. So get to know people in your lecture, because they will save you in your time of need.

Also, I’ve found making new friends in summer school is easier because, well, you’re all in the same boat, and there are fewer faces in lecture and campus as a whole.

  1. Get ALL of your textbooks

I know, I know — why spend hundreds of dollars on a 6-week course? You guessed my answer to this one: everything rushed. Not everything will be covered in lecture in depth in lecture, and you’re expected to come out of these courses with a knowledge comparable to those having taken the course in the fall and winter sessions. This means that instruction is brief, but exams are just as thick, and just as challenging.

My final tip doubles as the conclusion and the most important of them all: have fun. I don’t mean like the Canada Wonderland type of fun, but I mean contentment — not even a 4.0 GPA at U of T is worth your mental health. My final tip for survival is to promise to be good to yourself. It is the summer, after all.