Brianna Baxter, Kinesiology major, works on her online class at SF State’s J. Paul Leonard Library on June 12, 2023. (Tam Vu / Golden Gate Xpress) (Ta)
Brianna Baxter, Kinesiology major, works on her online class at SF State’s J. Paul Leonard Library on June 12, 2023. (Tam Vu / Golden Gate Xpress)


SF State summer classes accelerated with a five-week structure

June 15, 2023

With their shortened time frame of five weeks as opposed to the regular 16-week semester, summer classes place significant pressure on students and limit the opportunity for professors to actively engage with their classes.

San Francisco State University offers over 600 undergraduate and graduate courses through in-person, online in-synchronous and asynchronous formats during the summer. However, students and professors may feel that the pacing of their classes is too much to handle and not worth the price, given that a normal semester consists of 16 weeks with more free time in between assignments.

Most of the workload in courses offered this summer is structured in a way that students have to complete multiple modules in a week. Summer courses are structured to fit 16 weeks of lectures, assignments and exams into five weeks. This not only puts a strain on students but also on professors who have to teach and grade these courses.

While fall and spring semester classes of oral communication meet in person for three to five hours a week, online summer classes only give them two hours a week to discuss assignments, expectations and also to present lectures.

Suzanne Pullen, a professor at San Francisco State in communications studies, graduated from the university in 1992 and has been teaching on campus since 2015.

“I only meet with students for two hours a week and so I can’t really do any activities, have one-on-ones or work collaboratively,” Pullen said. “My biggest concern is that students will take the class and not realize until after the drop deadline that they can’t manage this workload.”

Pullen believes a minimum of six weeks could suffice for both students and faculty during the summer to relieve some stress. This would at least give the students and professors more time to build a relationship and allow themselves to be integrated into the class and not solely focused on turning in assignments.

“Not only is it hard for students, but it’s hard for the faculty. If we do a class that’s scaffolded there’s lots of building blocks and a lot of grading to do in a very short period of time,” Pullen said. “It’s already hard enough to teach a class that has public speaking, so in a short period of time it’s really hard to build up the trust and connection between your classmates in order to be able to take more risks with each other.”

With the way the SF State summer semester system is set up, most students enroll in the minimum number of six units to be eligible for financial aid. Students may be taking summer classes to either retake a class, get ahead on units or complete a prerequisite course for their majors.

“I wanted to do summer classes to be able to graduate on time but it is hard because it’s online,” said Brianna Baxter, a kinesiology major entering their fourth year. “The downsides to taking summer classes would be that it’s really expensive, compared to the tuition during the school year.”

At SF State, classes can range between $3000-$5,000 for five weeks of in-person courses, $6,000-$9,500 for 10 weeks of in-person courses, or almost $400 per unit for fully online courses. Baxter is enrolled in six units for online classes. However, she did not qualify due to her parents’ occupational income thus denying her financial aid, resulting in her owing almost $2,500 to the university.

Melaine Hernandez, also a kinesiology major entering their fourth year, enrolled in two classes worth four units, which do not meet the requirement of six units to qualify. She is currently enrolled in research methods and kinesiology and a human biology lab.

“I have to take a research methods class in order for my other major core classes to open up,” Hernandez said. “If I didn’t take this class, that would have put me a semester behind. I don’t want that so I decided to take it to stay on track and graduate on time.”

Most majors on campus require certain courses to be passed as a prerequisite before being eligible to enroll in upper-division courses. According to the University’s undergraduate graduation requirements, all majors have at least one GWAR course, a graduation writing assessment requirement, that is required to graduate and to enroll in certain upper-division courses.

“I have to read 21 chapters, read two articles, take a quiz and write two pages for each article I read,” Hernandez said. “I feel something like that would be better spread out throughout a month, not in a week.”

The second week of summer classes is already in motion, and students may have already begun preparing for exams. July 7 is the last day of summer classes and the fall semester begins a couple weeks after on Aug. 21.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Bryan Chavez
Bryan Chavez, Multimedia Editor
Bryan Chavez (he/him) is a reporter for SF State’s Golden Gate Xpress. He is a senior pursuing a major in Journalism with a minor in Sociology. As a lifelong resident of the Bay Area, Bryan aspires to become a beat writer for the Golden State Warriors or any other major league sports team in the region. Beyond his journalistic pursuits, he enjoys engaging in hobbies such as hiking, painting, and building with Legos during his free time.

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