An accelerated learning program might be just what you’re looking for!

what-is-maymester-and-is-it-worth-it

You made it -- you’re in the home stretch! There’s just a few more weeks to go, so chances are you’re ready to hit summer break hard. But before you start packing, start thinking about how you want to spend your final month of college after the close of the spring semester. Many universities offer students something called “Maymester,” an intensive pre-summer session offered to current students right before summer break begins.

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What is a Maymester?

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Getting coursework done in an efficient way

Taking on a Maymester may mean big things for you, even if you have to delay your beach vacay or summer job for an extra week or two. Maymesters are different at every school that offers them, including what courses are offered, when the sessions start and end, and how credits are assessed. Most are offered at the end of the spring session, and can last for one, two, or three weeks.  Maymesters offer students the chance to take additional courses that they  may not have room in their schedule to take during the academic year. A bio major or an English major both have different requirements to complete towards their degrees each year-- and a class such as the History of European Portraiture, while interesting, just wouldn't fit into their tight schedule. But a Maymester can make that happen!

Universities have started to offer Maymesters in the hopes of giving students a chance to expand their horizons past what their studies concentrate on. It’s a great way to help students become exposed to different ideas and experiences, making them into a more aware and engaged person. Maymesters offer students the chance to take on courses that may not fit with their regular academic schedule, while at the same time, not require them to enroll for an entire summer session at the school. By offering the chance to learn in an academic environment, with qualified professors, and without the commitment or the cost of an entire summer, students have the opportunity to do some serious learning while keeping finances in check..

Depending on your major’s requirements, you can get some required courses out of the way without staying on for a full summer session.

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What kind of programs are offered?

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Depending on your interests or requirements, there are all kinds of interesting Maymester courses waiting

Although it is a great opportunity to gain new perspectives, or challenge yourself to learn something out of your comfort zone, a Maymester isn’t for the faint at heart or those who slack off to the last minute. Typically the courses are condensed, because the class is not operating along the normal semester timeline.  Because one course is crammed into the space of just a couple of weeks, there isn’t much time to procrastinate or to fall behind. Some students don’t like that the longer classes mean it can be hard to concentrate at times. Each lecture in a Maymester needs to cover a large scope of material, so the classes themselves have to be longer. Another typical concern is that tests start right away, which can be challenging for students who might need more time or the aid of a study group to really soak up the information. 

However, other students find that having the material and the tests closer together made it easier-- the information was always fresh in their heads. Some professors also choose to split up the longer class sessions-- offering time for breaks-- which is key to focus and engaging with all the new material presented.

Many schools like to offer Maymesters as a chance for students to branch out and explore what other classes are out there besides what’s required of them. You could be spending your May learning how to cook French food, play guitar, or throw on the pottery wheel! This experience is all about fun, immersion, and taking a break from the grind, so if the longer class sessions, the shorter time period, and the quicker testing of material don’t seem to bother you, a Maymester might be right up your alley.

Girl reading book near water
A Maymester is a great way to try new courses and learn about skills you may have not even known you  had!

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Why a Maymester Might be Right For You

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Get out there and explore!

There are so many reasons why you should try out a Maymester, but the best and most important reason is that it may save you money on tuition! Many Maymesters are great at getting you into classes that you may not be able to fit into your schedule, such as a writing course or a lecture on American history required to graduate. Instead of extending your time at school to another semester, you can get these classes done and over with in just a few short weeks. It is also a great way for freshmen or sophomores to get some of their early required courses out of the way, as well as an opportunity to get credit for any additional electives they’re required to take. Maymesters have classes available in all kinds of subjects, and more and more colleges and universities are signing on. They’re recognizing that this is a fantastic way to allow students more flexibility when it comes to how they choose to spend their time on campus, and when they want to take their courses.

Counted credits and a GPA boost

Maymesters can also be a great GPA booster if the courses are applied as credits. Maymester courses typically are the same amount of credits that would be offered during the fall, spring, or summer semesters-- so making up the same amount of credits over a couple of weeks just makes sense. Most schools have Maymester classes apply equally to GPAs, which is perfect if you’re looking to get yourself back to the Dean’s List or make up for a less-than-great Spring semester. 

It’s a smart way to make sure your GPA is where it needs to be without commiting to staying at school for another couple of months. If you can get your GPA up the first couple of weeks of the summer, then you’re free to enjoy any internship, summer job, or even a great vacation without worrying and stressing about your grades all summer long.

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Offered on campus, and beyond!

Many Maymesters also offer short term study abroad opportunities. Classes can be offered on campus, or depending on the class, anywhere in the world. Imagine taking a Modern Art course in New York City, studying marine life on Catalina Island, or taking in the architecture of Greece? Maymesters offer the perfect opportunity to explore, and learn, at the same time. 

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you want to spend a whole semester or year abroad, trying out a Maymester is a good way to see if that type of program is right for you. With a Maymester, you can get the same kind of experience in a shorter time (and for a lower price). This is perfect for those just about to graduate or juniors taking an internship their senior year.

Although the lectures are longer, the classes are smaller, giving you more interaction and learning with your professor and fellow students.

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Smaller classes

Sometimes university classes can overwhelming due to how many students are in the class-- especially at larger institutions. It leaves you feeling more like a number, who just shows up to take notes and complete exams. If you’d rather have a more personalized experience, a Maymester might be right for you. Because the program is shorter, the class sizes are much smaller than typical lectures. This leaves more time for student/professor interaction, and it also increases the chance the students will engage and learn with each other. Having classes that aren’t completely in the classroom and seeing what you’re learning in action is important as well, and that type of experience is priceless.

Also, keep in mind that the teachers that stay to teach Maymesters are taking time out of their summer and placing vacation, other courses, or even their publications on hold to teach an intensive course. That means they must be incredibly passionate about what they do, and want to share their experiences and knowledge with you. Just think, maybe you could end up with an amazing professor similar to what Robin Williams portrayed in Dead Poets Society!

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Preparing yourself for job or internship

The summer after your junior or senior year might be the time where you decide to take on an internship or even have a job in your field waiting after senior year. Both of those can be a little intimidating, especially if it’s with a company that you could see yourself working for longterm. Taking a Maymester offered in conjunction with a specific company is a fantastic way to prepare for your internship or job later that year. 

You see firsthand how the company operates, and what someone in your field will be doing. You can walk away from a Maymester confident that you know that not only is this the right major for you, but once you get out in the real world, you are completely qualified to be working in your field!

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A break away from the grind

Finally, many Maymesters are great at giving you classes that are a little out of the box. For example, you may take a film class that studies the psychology of your favorite science fiction movie or a library course that tours the famous libraries in your city. Normally you wouldn’t have the time-- or maybe even the funds-- to take a different kind of class that doesn’t fit into your requirements. The classes that make us think a little differently push the boundaries of learning in a way that is immersive and fun all at the same time.

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When to save a Maymester for another time

Although the Maymester sounds like an amazing idea, it’s really only beneficial if you’re the type of student who likes learning and digesting a lot of information at one time. The quicker pace of the course ensures that you have a lot of learning-- and testing-- to do before the weeks are up. You might not want to put that type of stress on yourself, and that’s completely okay! Also, if you think you have a harder time learning in a different environment such as another country or city, consider taking a Maymester course at your school instead.

If your school offers a Maymester, take advantage of what they have to offer! While it most likely will be taxing, a short mini-semester can benefit your GPA and help you expand your horizons all at the same time.

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Posted 
Dec 5, 2019
 in 
Lifestyle
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