Academia has long-perceived summer school as a dreaded purgatory where failing students toil away their precious summertime months.
So the fact that any student would choose to spend his or her summer vacation in the classroom may come as a surprise.
But that’s exactly what many high-achieving students have started to do as high schoolers, predominantly in competitive areas like New York City and the Bay Area, realise the benefit for their GPAs, The New York Times’ reported.
At the Hun School, for example, a Princeton, New Jersey-based boarding school, summer school enrollment increased 16% since 2014, The Times reported.
Students choose to take classes as a “preview” with the intent of retaking the course during the regular school year to achieve higher scores the second time around. Others, however, decide to take summer classes for “forward credit,” skipping lower-level classes to rack up more Advanced Placement courses, which can count toward college, the following year.
In fact, taking summer classes has become so pervasive that some schools have to turn students away.
“It’s so popular, we run it as a lottery,” Caroline Bartels, the summer school director at Horace Mann, an elite New York City private school, told The Times.
Some of the push to continue schooling during the summer is undoubtedly due to increasingly difficult college admission cycles.
Driven by the so-called admissions arms race where colleges are incentivized to push acceptance rates lower, students face fierce competition from their peers.
Stanford’s class of 2020, for example, accepted a mere
4.69% of applicants. That, coupled with stories of students with perfect SAT scores and stellar GPAs who fail to gain entry into their top choices, encourage students to go to incredible lengths for a leg up on classmates.
Critics worry, however, that very drive may exacerbate gaps between wealthy and low-income students in college admissions, as affluent children are less likely to need to work during the summer.
Still, the push to continue classroom work after the school year finishes seems part of the larger trend where schools have realised the benefit of shortening summer breaks.
Across the nation, summer vacations have started to end sooner than ever to avoid “summer brain drain,” the period during which students backslide on mastering the content they learned the year before.
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