Should I Take a Summer Prep Class?
I don’t have a strong background in mathematics.
In my undergraduate studies, I took the required math courses and didn’t look back until I had to, which was when I was faced with taking a graduate-level course.
As I made the transition to graduate school, I began to wish I had taken a prep course for the rigorous mathematics I wasn’t accustomed to. Like my classmates, I used the resources available to me to help me through the class. I used a tutor, I went to the professor during office hours and reviewed the homework after it had been graded with other classmates. I, however, had to work a little harder than my classmates who were more familiar with the material because of their previous professional and educational experiences.
If I had planned ahead, I probably could have saved myself time and stress by taking prep course over the summer. I wouldn’t have felt left behind, and I wouldn’t have been frustrated that it took me longer than everyone else to do the coursework.
Prep courses, even if they are remedial, are a good way to brush up on subjects where you need help. Before starting college, consider the following things to aid you in your freshman year.
Have you taken a class in this discipline before?
Consider your previous experience in the subject. Did you take a similar class in high school, and, if so, what grade did you receive? Did you feel so challenged throughout the course that it left you frustrated and tired? If this is an advanced class in a topic new to you, taking a prep course is the right move.
How comfortable do you feel looking at the material?
If you can see previous homework, quizzes or tests from someone who has already taken a class you’re worried about, do it. Is the material familiar to you or will you struggle to understand it? Use the free time you have now to prepare for the class.
Can you afford an extra class?
Sometimes you simply can’t afford the extra expense. If you can’t find funding for an extra class, don’t stress trying to make it happen. Make sure you can pay for the semester ahead of you.
Do you have time for an extra class?
Some students don’t have to work and have breezy schedules. Taking a prep class is easy for them. If your summer is booked and you have little room for an additional class, don’t waste your time or money.
Will there be additional resources to help you throughout the semester?
If you’re only slightly worried about taking an advanced class in the fall, you’re probably fine. Think about the resources your college offers and what will work best for your learning style. Remember, at the end of the day what’s most important is what makes you comfortable and will help you reach your goals.
Olivia Lewis is a Cappex freelancer and journalist. She is currently pursing her master’s degree in the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.