Notes from the President

Chris Gray, Ph.D. | Founding President, Erie County Community College of Pennsylvania 

With its warm temperatures and sunny weather, summer feels far away right now.  As April showers and cool spring temperatures pervade Erie, it feels a little premature to start thinking about our second summer as a college.  Yet, that’s where this blog finds me.  Coming short on the heels of graduation, our summer classes at EC3 will begin Tuesday, June 20th, and we are offering a robust array of courses again this year!   

So why offer summer classes at all? The short answer is that summer courses serve several broad student needs and are often pivotal to student success. 

First, many students choose to take summer courses to earn transfer credits. It’s common to see students from four-year institutions return (or sometimes attend their local community college for the first time) to take courses that they will need for their degree; taking them here with us offers these students the same material at a significantly reduced cost. We refer to these students as “reverse transfers” since they are joining us after doing work at a four-year school.  Because our general education curriculum courses then transfer back to these institutions to fulfill needed requirements, reverse-transfer students earn credits with us that they transfer back to their “home” institution after the semester ends. In addition to the compounded room and board savings and decreased tuition costs, our course schedule offers students the chance to take courses online or at times that accommodate their summer employment schedule. So, there is definitely a financial component to the decision to take summer courses as a reverse-transfer student. 

Another popular reason that students choose summer courses is to stay on track to complete their program; taking a course or two in the summer affords students the opportunity to lighten their course load for the coming academic year and, perhaps, finish their degree or certificate that much sooner. Taking summer courses for two years in a row, for example, can shave off a semester if time is of the essence. Summer also gives students a bit of a cushion in cases where their schedules change such that they are no longer able to enroll in a course during the regular school year as planned. I like to think of it as providing a bit of insurance, just in case.

Additionally, there’s just a different vibe during the summer. The campus is quieter because fewer students are around.  There are generally fewer distractions on campus as a result, and this can create a quieter and more focused environment for students who are taking courses.  Some students find the atmosphere more intimate and enjoy the fact that summer classes tend to be smaller in size as well.   

Finally, there are times when students actually need summer classes because of a misstep in a previous semester. Unfortunately, not everyone is successful in all classes the first time, and the summer offers a chance to retake courses to improve grades or attain a better mastery of concepts. In cases like these, summer courses offer students a chance to stay caught up rather than fall behind. For programs in which one course serves as the prerequisite for another, the ability to take a summer course can be crucial to student success.   

As ever, our goal at EC3 is to provide courses that will fulfill student needs, and we are excited to start planning for our next semester. The list of classes offered can be found here, and registration is open.  And of course, be on the lookout for our fall courses soon as well. 

We’d love to have you join us!