Summer Classes Work For this Night Owl Bitten by the Travel Bug

Sophia smiles at the camera with her hand on her hip.

Today, we feature Sophia Lombardo (she/her), a junior commuter student from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sophia is a Music Industry major with a Business Concentration, a Modern Languages & Linguistics major with Spanish and Italian Concentrations, Entrepreneurship & International Studies minor, and a CUGS in Entrepreneurial and Independent Media. She is here today to describe her experience with summer classes through Rowan University and community college.

Sophia stands with arms crossed in front of a burnt orange color wall, which makes her tattoos on her arms pop.

What inspired you to choose the major that you are pursuing?

I’ve always had a passion for music, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue a career in the field for a while. Eventually, I determined that what I wanted was to work in a creative environment, but not do a creative job myself, so I looked into programs in New Jersey that offered a Music Business program, so I could stay close to home and give it a try. I did attempt college twice before coming to Rowan, so I was unsure about whether I would really go through to the end with it this time, but Rowan has been really great for me as an environment and I’m happy I stuck with it! After about a year and a half of being here, I had tested out of a few Spanish courses and taken some Italian and French classes as well, and I had already made decent progress towards the Modern Languages & Linguistics major. I also really wanted to study abroad, which would fulfill most of the remaining requirements for the program. Ultimately, it would add some time for me here, but I would get the experience of studying abroad and a second degree in a subject that I also really enjoy!

What summer classes are you taking?

I’m taking Intercultural Communication and Elementary French II at Camden County College, both of which will transfer for my MLL major. At Rowan I’m taking Journalistic Writing (Course: JRN 02210) and Entrepreneurship & Innovation (Course: ENT 06240 / 06505) which are both for my Music Industry major.

What has your experience been like with your classes?

Only one of the classes, Intercultural Communication, has begun at this point, but it has been so interesting so far! I love the course content and I’m happy that it counts towards my major. I took three summer courses last year, all at Rowan, and that was a great experience overall.

Sophia Lombardo sitting with her computer.

What are the benefits of taking summer classes?

I enjoy taking summer courses, specifically condensed online courses, because of the packed content and the flexibility. Most summer classes I’ve taken have ranged from 6-8 weeks, which does mean that they go faster, but that works really well for me and my learning style. I am much better with just cranking it out, getting it done, and moving on than I am with drawing it out for months on end.

What kind of flexibility does taking summer classes offer?

Like I said earlier, I love traveling and try to do so as much as possible during the summer and any other academic breaks I have. Taking online classes allows me to do so, as long as I sit down and get everything done on time, which also gives me a great sense of self discipline and accomplishment. Last summer, I spent two months traveling across eight countries in Europe while taking three condensed courses. I’d be lying if I said it was easy, and I did have to give up a few activities while on my trip to focus on work, but I did make the most of my trip and made progress toward my degrees in the meantime. Just last week I came back from a road trip where I went to Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis, and Louisville, right after my first class started. Similarly, I was able to make the most of my trip as long as I took the time to get my stuff done.

What are the main differences between taking classes during a fall or spring semester compared to the summer?

Definitely the pace. For me, the sped up condensed classes work really well, and I’m pretty sure most summer classes that are offered operate that way. But it’s also helpful when it’s asynchronous so you can just dedicate what normally would be class time to homework.

Sophia Lombardo sitting with her computer.

How have summer classes helped you as a student and your academic career?

Summer classes have definitely helped me with time management and discipline. It really does directly translate to the regular fall and spring semester classes. Also, I would love to work a remote job that gives me a lot of location independence, and taking the asynchronous online classes gives me a lot of the skills necessary to excel in those kinds of jobs.

What kind of class do you recommend students take over the summer? (Rowan Core, Major Classes, Rowan Experience)

I personally am a woman of many interests, so I have had a lot of fun taking my Rowan Core and Rowan Experience classes in person and during the regular semester. Because of my double major, I don’t have a lot of space in my schedule for free electives, so I try to take classes for those gen ed requirements that function as free electives for me. For example, I took Intro to Philosophy for the Writing Intensive requirement, and Vampire Literature for the Broad-Based Literature requirement. Even though these weren’t exactly elective classes for me, they’re non-major classes that I have had the opportunity to take that did count for something for me. That being said, I think what you choose to take over the summer will heavily depend on your major, courseload, and what you have left to take. If you have no interest in taking any non-major classes and just want to get them over with, you definitely have the opportunity to do so over the summer. The list of offered courses is also much smaller than what you can normally find during a semester, so for me choosing summer courses was more about taking whatever was available that actually counted for me and my course of study.

Sophia stands on campus with the wetlands surrounding Engineering Hall around her.

Do you have any advice for students interested in taking summer classes?

Definitely just stay on top of it. It’s difficult a lot of the time, but it’s worth it, especially since you’re paying more for it if you normally get financial aid and scholarships and such. Even just taking one or two really can help you get ahead in the long-term!

Anything else?

When I was in Europe taking summer classes online, it still had everything due in EST, so when something was due at midnight, I actually had until 6 am to do it, which was perfect for me since I’m a night owl. I would stay up super late at my boyfriend’s house in the Netherlands doing work until 5 am once a week, and nothing was ever late which was perfect for me!!

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Written by: Sophia Lombardo, junior music industry major
Edited by: Jordyn Dauter, junior dance & elementary education double major
Photos by: Sai Naveen Sudanagunta, cybersecurity graduate student

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