While many of my friends went home for the summer, I decided to commute from my home in Maryland to GW to take summer classes.
It is daunting to take fast-paced, six- week-long summer classes, but enrolling in fewer summer courses allows me to focus on the quality of learning rather than the quantity. I also have more time to talk with my professor because he is juggling fewer students, and there is much more time to manage a heavy workload, even with an internship on my plate and a bucket list of activities I would like to do in D.C.
While class registration for GW’s first session of summer classes has closed, there is another opportunity toward the end of the summer for students to weigh taking a class. Students who want a smaller, more intimate class that does not take up too much free time should enroll in a summer course.
As a student studying English and pre-medicine, enrolling in a couple of summer courses within my major has left room for fall and spring electives in topics of interest. Last summer, I took Organic Chemistry 2, a challenging prerequisite for medical school. I could go through chemistry problems step-by-step with my professor because fewer students were rushing to office hours over the summer. The individual attention from the professor helped me better understand the material and prepared me for exams and assignments.
But summer classes do not need to be about getting major requirements out of the way. I am also taking anthropology and digital humanities, which allows me to explore courses outside my major with some extra time on my hands.
Summer classes also give me the opportunity to study with new people from around the globe. I have visiting classmates from different countries like Dubai and Qatar who are participating in the GW Summer Program, which brings international students to campus for the summer semester. In an already small class, the international students offer diverse perspectives during discussions. Some of them are also just visiting the city for the first time, so I can show them around D.C. during our free time.
But taking summer classes is not affordable for everyone. A summer credit at GW costs $1,575, and GW accepts only nine credits from classes at local community colleges or public institutions, limiting students in the number of credits they can take off campus.
Despite the financial burden, there are opportunities GW offers to offset the cost of summer housing and class. The Columbian College of Arts and Sciences offers CCAS students a summer scholarship if they submitted the Free Application for Student Federal Aid, have financial aid and are taking CCAS courses. Summer staffing positions for GW Housing and jobs assisting the pre-college program for high school students also comes with a free housing bonus. These opportunities can help mitigate the cost of living in the District, especially for students who do not have the luxury of commuting to and from school.
Some students might not want to stay at school over the summer, but in my experience there is plenty to do in the District. Although I enjoy taking classes and learning, I also use time to decompress and focus on self-care. D.C. offers several cultural events during the summer, like Smorgasburg – a popular food market from Brooklyn, N.Y. – a Sesame Street Festival and extended summer hours at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Students can take advantage of these opportunities they might not get with a full course load during a busy academic year.
Summer classes in D.C. may sound boring and expensive, but there are ways to mitigate the cost and spend time relaxing and enjoying D.C. Students should take advantage of small class sizes and more time with professors during summer classes for a break from the packed school year. Foggy Bottom may be quiet because many students are not on campus, but it is still busy with visiting students and interns you can meet during your summer class.
Jina Park, a junior majoring in English, is an opinions writer.