The Summer School Connection

How a UNC summer impacted my friendships and my Carolina experience

Photo of Simone and friends
In summer school, I felt like I had plenty of time to relax with my friends.

How are you spending your summer this year? I bet summer school is the last thing on your mind. It was certainly the last thing on my mind after my freshman year, but I decided to take the advice of my peers and see what a summer at Carolina was all about.

After my first year at Carolina was wrapping up, the campus was buzzing with excitement for summer school. It never occurred to me that summer sessions could be fun, so I decided to give it a try. I signed up for both sessions and braced myself for the summer ahead!

Finding friends

I was only acquainted with my summer roommate prior to moving in, but over the course of the summer, we became extremely tight. I also met some great people along the way who I now consider to be some of my closest friends.

For both summer sessions, I lived in summer school housing in Aycock in Lower Quad. Those dorms are hall-style, so you share a bathroom with your entire hall—you’d be surprised how many people you meet while brushing your teeth! When everyone lives in the same area, it’s fairly simple to join in on a volleyball game or meet people who you pass by every day in the hall.

That summer, I met some of my closest friends that I think I’ll have forever. Summer school is a condensed version of the school year, so you have people there to talk to and study with 24/7, but without the time commitments of clubs or organizations, you really get to know people quickly. Making the decision to spend my summer at Carolina, especially when I didn’t know anyone, taught me a lot about myself, my likes, and my dislikes; and it strengthened my work ethic. My blood definitely runs a little Carolina bluer after that experience!

photo of Simone and roommate
My roommate and I became really tight after spending a summer together.

Exploring majors

I took ECON 101, STOR 155,  MATH 152, and SOCI 273. At that point, I was an ambitious pre-Business major. I wanted to do as many business prerequisites that summer as possible, so I took the maximum number of hours (12) to complete the majority of them. However, by the end of the summer, I realized Business may not be for me. I was so thankful I took the time to explore the courses of my intended major before my sophomore year.

The course load

There is always some debate over whether summer classes are “easier” or “harder” than during the regular school year. I will say that many summer school courses are taught by graduate students whom students may find it easier to relate to and discuss the course with. The workload is similar, but since you learn a new concept basically every day, each thing you learn builds upon the previous class—how you handle this depends upon how you learn. For me, material that is fresh in my mind prepares me for the next day, as opposed to learning blocks of information with several days in between.

Fun outside the classroom

I was surprised at how much fun a summer in Chapel Hill could be. Summer school always carried a negative connotation to me, but the upperclassmen I met throughout the year insisted it would be a good time, and it was! There are still fun outdoor events, movie nights, and activities to do while you’re not in class.

Would I do it again?

Absolutely. The more time you spend here, the more you love it. The beauty of summer sessions is that there are three options: Maymester, Summer Session I, and Summer Session II, so you can tailor your academic summer around vacations, study abroad, and internships. Also, the more people you know, the more exciting it is to share the experience and meet even more new friends.

Whether you want to pick up a few credits, boost your GPA, or just make new friends, you will never regret spending your summer at Carolina. The possibilities of fun are endless, and you will always meet other students who are academically ambitious, whose energy you can feed off of if classes ever get to be too much.

Bottom line:  Summer school changed my Carolina experience for the better, and I believe it can for you, too. Feel free to leave comments and questions below, I’d be happy to answer them!

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