This summer, I was granted the privilege of attending a seasonal extension of the mandatory nationwide scholarly curriculum known as school. In other words, more school. The summer school program is an opportunity to acquire lacking credit in certain courses, a.k.a. getting ahead academically. More often than not, in a community like Irvine, summer school is the expeditious way of exterminating graduation credit requirements rather than negating failed or missing courses. In the long run, how beneficial is such an opportunity for high school students?

The more popular of summer school courses include the favorites, Health and Physical Education. Unsurprisingly, these lessons with little academic weight are those on which most students opt to spend their summer. What utility is there in taking such condensed courses? Do students really learn as much as they should from 4 weeks compared to 4 months?

My personal experience with both Health and PE this past summer obliges me to admit the futility of both. I have taken away nothing from Health except a major skin cancer scare that frightens me into using sunscreen more often, and while PE made me healthy for a month, it has made me healthy for only a month. I have engaged in little physical activity since I acquired the credit for that class, so I have probably lost whatever physical improvements I had achieved in 4 weeks.

Ashley Zhao, a sophomore from University High School, echoes similar sentiments. Unlike most other students that simply lack the will, Ashley opted to take 2 sessions of PE per day during the summer, meaning a year’s worth of physical activity condensed into a month. “PE during summer isn't fun,” she admitted. “Some days I did question why I wanted to torture myself so much.” However, she has acknowledged that her choice was ultimately for the better, and speaks rather appreciatively for the summer school opportunity. “I can now take one more elective, orchestra, which I couldn’t fit into my schedule last year. Besides, that’s no more PE until I graduate!”

Anushi Patel, another sophomore from University High School, disagrees with her friend. Anushi opted for 1 session of Health in the summer, which she originally did reluctantly, because she wanted a more enjoyable vacation from school. “I simply can’t force myself to take PE in the summer. Health is less intense, so I can handle that. I don’t mind taking PE for another year in school.” When asked about her thoughts on Health, Anushi replied that it “didn’t prove much use, because most of what [her] teacher taught could be gathered from common sense.”

What about students who actually had to compensate for missing or failed credit? What did they think of summer school? Yasaman Kalantari, a student from University High School, had to take 2 sessions of Global Perspectives in the summer. “I moved from another school to Uni in the middle of the year, and there wasn’t a history course in freshman year at that school. In Uni it’s mandatory. I couldn’t join a class at Uni because I had missed so much content, so I had to take summer school to make up for the missing credit.” She admits that she has been very grateful for summer school because it has allowed her to catch up with classmates, but at the same time she says it was not her greatest summer memory. “History everyday for a month…not what I wanted to be doing. I was also learning two semesters at once, so the time periods kept jumping around. Getting tested on WWI and WWII simultaneously gets confusing!”

While my summer has been neither particularly meaningful nor enjoyable, I appreciate that I have room for more electives I have been wanting for quite some time. From an educational outlook, however, I still contend that summer school is unfruitful.

Would I take summer school again? I still need a year’s worth of PE to graduate, so I wouldn’t rule out the possibility.