By Apurav Maggu:
The summer break is here and the cold war to better our CV has just begun. Many people think I should add more experience to my CV or refine myself academically by attending a summer school. My attempt to compare the two would defeat the purpose. It would just start a long conversation and a debate. Hence, the real reason to write is to help select the best summer school possible.
I have written this article to help students from various colleges and walks of life to make informed choices. Personally, I have tried not to include my experience. The reason is simple that the article could digress and my personal biases from my experience could arrive at conclusions, which may be wrong or untrue. Therefore, I have attempted to recount the experience of many of my friends and attempted to draw some rules in order to arrive at a logical choice. (Yes, I do want to give it a ‘fight club’ type feeling)
Rule number 1. They are expensive
Always remember that summer course is one huge hole to your purse and especially to the middle-income class. So, analyze and reanalyze the cost benefit ratio before applying for any summer school.
Rule number 2. Analyze your aims
After establishing rule number one, it would be fair to ask yourself that what are the aims that you want to achieve with the course. It may happen that you don’t have a clear picture of our aims and goals. However, even a largely unclear idea could help to make better and informed decision.
Personally speaking, I am a hardcore International Relations and Politics junkie. Therefore, doing a course like ‘credit-risk management in small MNC’Â will not help me. I may try to establish ‘5 degrees of separation’ by justifying it one way or the other. But, Hello! Rule number one.
Rule number 3. Prepare to feel not satisfied
This rule stems from the way summer courses are taught. The courses are extensive and a lot of information is given in the smallest amount of time. In all probability, there is a chance where significant portion of the course is skimmed through in a very light manner and in the shortest time possible.
If you are expecting a moment of intellectual epiphany or that ‘aha’ moment, the straight message is ‘don’t get your hopes too high, son’. High chances of dejection from the course and the feeling of not being satisfied economically and academically are not uncommon.
Rule Number 4. Look for possible alternatives too
People like the whole process of visiting the ‘viliayat’, so much so that we get swayed by the exotic mysticism of the foreign lands. I must admit that even I was swayed away by my desire to visit a certain nation and wanted to enroll for the summer school. However, in retrospect, my personal advice is to keep looking for other alternatives as well.
Certain websites like coursera, iversity and edX offer amazing specialized courses (paid and unpaid). I can personally vouch for certain courses where I did feel a moment of ‘aha!’ and happiness when I did them. e.g. ‘Constitutional struggles in the Muslim world’ course personally was a revelation for me. So, always remember, that there are better, cheaper and unglamorous ways to get your education and academic environment.
Rule Number 5: All generalizations are false, including this one
One can complain that I have reduced students to uneducated and indecisive chimpanzees who cannot think for their own good. Partly, this is true except that I made this generalization in much more respectable words. However, by not generalizing I will not be able to move forward in my attempt to formulate this article.
Rule number five suggests that one must not reduce a summer school to just an academic experience. There could be other reasons too for e.g. a need for an overall good experience or experiencing things other than studies, and trying something different altogether etc. Hence, rule number two for all you peeps.