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Summer offers a chance to get ahead

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Childhood/early childhood education majors Mackenzie Moss, left, and Kayla Gehm walk to class together Wednesday on the SUNY Cortland campus. The college has begun summer session and Tompkins Cortland Community College will begin summer courses on May 31.

As summer months draw near, warm weather and sunny days mean school is the last thing on many minds. For some people, summer isn’t a break from school at all.

Summer courses at SUNY Cortland began Wednesday. Running for five weeks, the classes offer students a chance to catch up or take an extra course to lighten the load later on.

Mackenzie Moss knew when she embarked on her childhood/early childhood education master’s program through SUNY Cortland that summer courses would be part of the deal.

So every Monday and Wednesday, she wakes up early to make the commute from Binghamton to Cortland, where she is in classes until 2:30 before driving back home.

Moss says the summer season may make it a little easier to get distracted by nice weather, but the lighter courseload makes it easier to focus.

Moss looks to graduate in May of 2018, so she is taking two classes during the first half of the summer and will take two more in the second part of the summer then 16 credits next fall.

She never really gets a break from school, but she said the fact the program will be done in a year makes it worth it.

Summer courses at Tompkins Cortland Community College begin May 31, said Larry Chase, who teaches business administration courses during the summer.

TC3 students who use the summer program fall into three categories, Chase said:
* Students from Central and South America in the Global Program: Most hail from two colleges in the Dominican Republic, as well as a college in Honduras. Most of these students are in international business programs.

* TC3 students — These students are looking to get ahead for the fall semester, taking course work in all sorts of subject areas.

* Local students from out of town colleges — These students are also looking to catch up for the fall semester at the college’s or universities they attend elsewhere.

Chase said the summer students tend to be more engaged or focused than the typical student during the year for a variety of reasons.

“Students that have made mistakes in a previous semester, this is something they need to do to get back on track,” Chase said.

Also, summer courses are not funded by financial aid, so the students pay cash for the experience. They also take fewer credits, typically three to six, allowing them to focus more.

The students who are part of the Global Program are an exception to this, often taking 12 to 15 credits over a 10-week period, Chase said. “These are the best and the brightest out of the Dominican Republic and Honduras, as well as a few from Colombia,” Chase said.

At SUNY Cortland, Director of Extended Learning Camilla Morgan said the college has promoted summer courses as a way to stay on track to graduate on time. She reported an uptick in enrollment, but had no specific numbers beyond that 1,700 typically enroll, 1,100 undergraduate and 600 graduate.

Graduate students typically take sports management and education courses while undergraduate students often take exercise science and business courses, she said.

Reasons to take summer courses vary also.

“On the undergrad level it’s usually some way to remain on track for graduation,” Morgan said. “They may need to catch up and earn credits or for others it’s a way to get ahead … and graduate earlier.”

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