The one thing most people can agree on about 2020 is that it was a many-flavored disaster. The delicate balancing act of families with kids—all at once—in school, in band, in soccer and baseball and scouting fell dramatically apart. Everything stopped. Business. Socializing. And, tragically, learning.
From a parents, students, and teachers perspective, 2020 was a perfect storm of academic challenges the effects of which are still being felt today. Realistically, they will echo throughout most of our lives for years to come. When the pandemic hit in spring of 2020, 48 states completely closed schools through the end of the school year. A staggering 214 million children worldwide have missed more than three-quarters of their in-person learning.
Students forced to stay away from brick and mortar schools found the academic landscape bleak. School districts, unprepared for the sudden global need for distance education, hastily formulated “remote learning solutions” that more often than not amounted to Zoom-casts of classroom lectures. Students used to being a live audience to a classroom performance were suddenly struggling with poor audio and fuzzy video of those same teachers, now in miniature on Chromebook screens. For many kids, sleep was more appealing. Or surreptitious video gaming. It is hard to argue that either might have been more rewarding.
Education was at its lowest. And so was student morale. And grades.
In places where schools opened, students who returned found an entirely different learning environment from the one they had left. Half-empty classrooms peopled with masked classmates who, any day, might be whisked away due to a contact traced connection with an ill relative or that kid in Geometry class with the dry but persistent cough.
Today, most schools in most places are open, albeit often with a skeleton crew of students and teachers. Learning while re-breathing CO2 in a mask has been uniformly reported as difficult at best.
American families have had to come to grips with the reality that the status quo of education pre-COVID has vanished. In its place, for any number of reasons ranging from political to medical to financial, is a system that has largely failed and a generation of school kids with uninspiring GPAs and even more uninspired aspirations for learning.
As the 2020/2021 school year winds down there are still very few certainties about what the future of education holds. But, there is one thing that is certain: as many as 50% of American students and parents, from Kindergarten to grad school, will be eyeing summer school as a way to take some small measure of control of their academic careers.
Here are five ways students can use Summer 2021 to bounce back from the COVID pandemic:
- Credit recovery. Historically, one of the most popular summer school pursuit is credit recovery. With so many changes, difficulties, and imperfections in online—and even in-person education—many students experienced extremely poor grades in 2020/2021. In summer school, students can retake coursework in which they did poorly in the regular school year. It’s a good strategy. Taking a summer course can effectively erase a bad grade from the regular school year. Core courses and electives are all fair game, and a regionally accredited school (like Citizens High School) can provide top-shelf courses that are 100% acceptable by secondary schools nationwide. (Find out more here.)
- Getting ahead. Just because the school year ended doesn’t mean students are necessarily stuck in whatever grade they just finished. In many schools, courses are available strictly according to grade level, and the most popular courses are hard to get in. Not so with an online education course! Taking a summer course in an elective or a core area can be a great way to get ahead and open up doors and possibilities for study in the future. Take a language course or a core English or math class during the summer to leapfrog ahead of the strict confines of the brick-and-mortar school. Take it in the summer so you don’t have to do it during the school year. (Learn more about getting ahead here.)
- Learn some technology. There is nothing more important as a worker or student in America than having a firm grasp of information technologies (IT). Whether a student’s interest lies in programming, graphic design or business applications, or animation, summer school can offer high-quality, professionally developed IT courses. If you plan to attend college, certification in Microsoft programs can be a great help. If you plan to be a creative professional, Adobe certification is available. Anyone interested in e-commerce or digital marketing would want google certifications in Analytics. Some brick-and-mortar schools do not offer these programs, so the only way to get them is by going on your own and tracking down a resource. (And you have: Citizens High School has a full list of IT subjects in its IT Academy.)
- Test preparation. For college-bound students, the SAT and ACT tests are unavoidably important. Test prep takes a lot of time—to do it right, anyway—and the summer is a perfect time to work on the strategies and background leaning that will help students get a top score! Taking the practice tests alone takes hours at a stretch. For most students, those hours are hard to carve out of already jam packed schedules. The best part about summer test prep is that the pace is slower and students can focus on laying a strong foundation based on their target test(s) and build study schedules on it.
- Have some fun! Nobody says school has to be boring. You can take fun courses that will earn high school credit while departing from the typical high school coursework. Learn to fly a drone! Turn your passion for social movements into a blog and be an activist—for credit! Sing! Be a musician, learn to mix and produce music, or be part of an online choir. The possibilities are endless. And fun.