Every major consists of course requirements whose CTECs alone fill students with dread. For Weinberg junior Daniel Liu, Economics 310-2 was that class. Luckily for him, he was able to soften the blow by enrolling during the summer.
Whereas high school students view summer school as a threat, many Northwestern students embrace the chance to spend a summer on campus and either catch up or get ahead on their courses. More than 2,300 students elect to stay in Evanston for summer courses each year, which is roughly a quarter of the undergraduate population.
"It was just a decision based on the fact that I switched majors kind of late in the game, and I didn't want a crazy school year," Liu says. "It was easier to get more out of [my courses] in the summer because I got a chance to really understand the material better."
As an economics and RTVF double major, Liu found that taking Economic 310-2 and Foundations of Screenwriting helped him fulfill prerequisites and ultimately gave him more leniency in the following academic year.
"For a lot of students, it's a really great time to be able to focus without the pressure to complete work in other courses," says Stephanie Tererycz, director of Summer Session and Special Programs. "If you want to just be able to focus on a particular area of study, summer is a great time to do that."
The University offers more than 300 courses over the summer, including intensive language and science sequences, which condense three quarters worth of material into a single, nine-week course.
After finding out that his position working in a lab on campus would only be part-tome last summer, Weinberg sophomore Jack Armstrong figured he might as well take a course too. By enrolling in the second-year French sequence, he was able to advance to the 200-level classes during the next academic year.
"It was academically productive and also fun to spend a summer living with my friends and going into Chicago on weekends," Armstrong says.
But the academic benefits of Summer Session come at a cost that not all students are able to meet, making the decision to enroll difficult. Undergraduate tuition for one credit comes to $3,903 for Summer Quarter 2015, and students must be enrolled in at least two courses to be eligible for financial aid.
"If a student is awarded Northwestern funding for the summer, it will count as one of their 12 quarters of institutional eligibility," says Angela Yang, director of financial aid operations. "Summer funding is limited and requires a separate application. And as it is the final quarter of the academic year, a student may have exhausted any government or outside resources."
Financial aid for the summer is limited and thus granted on a priority basis. Precedence is given to those graduating in August, seeking to participate in programs offered exclusively during the summer or making up for a prior quarter of non-enrollment.
Although she referred to summer as "Northwestern's fourth quarter," Teterycz says the financial opportunities, or lack thereof, reflect view of Summer Session as an "add-on."
Teterycz added that the issue of access to Summer Quarter is "part of a conversation that needs to happen more broadly across the University in terms of the way that it conceives of an undergraduate's academic experience."