5 Tips to be successful in a summer course
By Julie Barrows
With over 25 online courses to earn credit and explore new subjects, VHS Learning’s summer courses are a smart choice for high school students in grades 7-12. Every year, we get lots of questions from students and parents who want to understand the program and how it works. Here are 5 tips that can help you succeed in a summer school course:
- Set a schedule
VHS Learning’s online courses are asynchronous, meaning you can log on at any time of day. This is a major benefit for busy students with summer plans but may present challenges for others. Setting a beginning and end of class time can help you stay focused and pace your work throughout the week. You should expect to spend 90 minutes every weekday (Monday-Friday) in your VHS Learning summer course completing assignments, working with classmates on projects, and contributing to discussions. Former students have shared the most important lesson they learned from taking an online class and almost every student gives the same advice: Do not leave all your work until the last day of the week!
- Make a “classroom”
Summer school can be anytime, anywhere! If you often get distracted by your environment, build yourself a designated workspace where you minimize distractions—it can be a table in a quiet(er) room, your local library, or even outside if your computer is able. If noise is a concern, use headphones to help you concentrate. Otherwise, silence your phone and turn it upside down or leave it in a different room. Find a place that you are motivated to go, and that can help you work.
- Stay organized
Some students may have trouble staying focused and disciplined outside of a school environment. That’s okay – summer school is one of the best ways to practice and develop these life skills. Most VHS Learning classes provide a weekly checklist to help you keep track of the assignments you’ve completed and still have to do. It also helps you visualize, divide, and plan the amount of work ahead. In her advice to fellow students, Alyssa Colon wrote “The best advice I can tell anyone who wants to take a VHS Learning course is that keeping track of assignments is the best possible thing to do. Whether it’s with the checklist provided, or with any other type of planning one would like to use, is helpful. . . On the checklist, I wrote down each day of the week. Then, I scheduled an assignment or two each day. It helped me stay organized, and also give myself brain breaks in between each assignment if I stayed on schedule.”
- Plan around vacation time
Have summer plans? You can absolutely still be successful in a VHS Learning summer course! As long as you have internet, you can access your course. Going to day camp? You can log on in the evening. Do you have a summer job? You can log in at the time of day that’s best for you. Going on vacation? If you have wifi, you can still log in. VHS Learning’s asynchronous model lets you complete your work at the time most convenient for you.
- Communicate with your teacher
If you know you will be away from internet access and unable to attend class—for instance you are going on a day trip with your family—you can contact the teacher directly using the ‘Private Topic’ tool within your course. Always plan ahead and communicate issues as soon as they arrive; your teacher and fellow classmates can be anywhere around the world, so they might take time to respond. Often your teacher will be accommodating, but it is difficult after you have been absent. Teachers will check into their online classroom each weekday (Monday-Friday) to assess students’ work, respond to questions, and update the course assignments.
These 5 tips will help you get the most out of your VHS Learning experience, whether you are earning credit to matriculate to the next grade, exploring a new and fun elective, or gaining valuable exposure to online classes. Remember, VHS Learning’s teachers and staff are always here for support, so communicate and ask questions often. You can visit our Summer School FAQs page or give us a call at 978.897.1900.
To see our summer course options and register, visit our Summer School page here.