CU Denver student on campus during the summer session
CU Denver students enjoy many advantages during summer semester.

“A quiet, peaceful atmosphere.” “Insightful conversations.” “Productive projects and goals completed.”

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That’s how five students and recent graduates of CU Denver described their summers. They weren’t remembering vacations or home improvement projects, but the classes they took during the eight-week summer semester.

During the summer, undergraduates and graduate students can choose from three ways to take classes: in person, online or a hybrid combination of the two. Support systems, such as the Writing Center, are open to assist students, and, with fewer cars on campus, parking is a breeze.

And if that’s not enough to persuade you to enroll in summer semester, just listen to five students who used summer classes to graduate faster, learn skills inside and outside of their majors and keep the momentum going all year.

Navy Vet channeled excess energy into a degree

Charmaine Cassie
Charmaine Cassie

After serving in the U.S. Navy for nine years, Charmaine Cassie was nervous about returning to school and embarking on a new “mission.” She enrolled in summer classes in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) to jump-start her education after her military service—and discovered that she loved the small class sizes and fast pace at CU Denver.

Cassie, a Reisher Scholarship recipient, took at least two courses every summer until she graduated with a Communication degree in 2016. “The length of the summer semester was what I liked best,” she said. “The condensed format reminded me of a fast-paced job.”

While summer courses helped Cassie graduate faster, they also kept her busy, something the vet appreciated. “School was my outlet from memories of war—studying, taking tests, and participating in class was a healthier form of “stress,” Cassie said. “I expanded my social network, regained confidence on a greater scale and met my current business partner.”

First-generation undergrad explored courses outside of major

Yoana Martinez-Salazar
Yoana Martinez-Salazar

Yoana Martinez-Salazar, a first-gen student and a Reisher Scholarship recipient in the School of Education & Human Development, is busy completing a degree in Human Development and Family Relations, with a minor in Sociology. In summer 2016, Martinez-Salazar took two online classes because the flexibility allowed her to work more hours, complete coursework on her schedule, and stay on track to graduate in fall 2017. “Without summer classes, I probably would not be graduating on time,” she said.

Martinez-Salazar describes the photography course she took last summer as fun and challenging. “Taking that class was a great opportunity to explore outside my major, and it gave me the tools and experience I need to bring back some great pictures from my semester abroad,” she said.

Future police officer completes BA at lightning speed

Spencer Nesladek
Spencer Nesladek

Spenser Nesladek first learned about summer classes from his School of Public Affairs adviser, Nora Scanlon, who thought summer classes would be a good fit for his goals: Nesladek wanted to graduate quickly and apply to be a police officer.

He transferred to CU Denver bringing 30 credits with him. In May 2017, he will complete a BA in Criminal Justice in less than two years. One real key to his success was summer semester 2016, when he earned 15 credits. “The only way I was able to complete my degree so quickly was because of summer classes,” he said.

Nesladek enjoyed the quiet, peaceful atmosphere on campus in the summer, including personal assistance from instructors. “Summer courses were a great opportunity,” he said. “If someone wants to complete their degree faster, it’s great they have this option.”

Dual major student streamlined her path to graduation

Elizabeth Nylander
Elizabeth Nylander

Elizabeth Nylander, who dual-majored in Psychology and Communication, took her first psychology class during the summer semester and learned that she liked the momentum of taking classes year-round.

“I loved the productive, insightful small-class discussions,” she said. “After that experience, I made summer classes part of my graduation plan to ensure that I stayed on track.”

Nylander credits taking classes each summer semester with helping her graduate on time in 2014. Despite a heavy course load, she was able to complete her dual major in four years, while working part-time on campus. “Taking courses over the summer balanced my course load in the spring and fall semesters and streamlined my path to graduation,” she said.

Graduate student prefers condensed core classes

Jessica Killian
Jessica Killian

The opportunity to take required classes in a condensed format appealed to Jessica Killian, a grad student who is completing her Master of Engineering in Construction Engineering and Management. She prefers taking required classes over the summer to lighten her load during spring and fall semesters.

“The summer semester is a great way to get core or elective classes you are missing,” she said. “They are quicker and more focused.”

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