Courses, aid should be summer priorities

    In 2006, UCSD could receive state funding for a full summer quarter similar to those at UCLA UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis and UC Berkeley. But before concert acts are booked and popcorn machines rented, let us not forget the plight of the average UCSD student. Nevermind the already questionable on-campus social life; basic needs must come first — course selection, financial aid, housing and transportation.

    Summer session has been a way to relax, catch up on classes and experiment with subjects that one would hesitate to touch during the rigors of the regular school year. Expanded course selection, and the ability to pay for it, would help accelerate the race to a degree. If students had more opportunities to take those much-needed GEs or important prerequisites, there would be less anxiety in terms of scheduling and class availability.

    Of course, summer session isn’t solely geared for returning students. Local college-bound students return home to San Diego, gasp over flagging GPAs and graduation requirements, and flock to the nearest university for credit. Additional funds for the summer would contribute to a larger course variety and more instructors, which would pacify not only desperate UCSD students, but also these outside samplers.

    Financial aid, which is the first priority for many students, keeps classes affordable and accessible not only by making them cheaper, but by providing funds for housing and sustenance. Total scholarship money awarded to UCSD summer school students in 1999 amounted to approximately $25,523, a paltry sum when compared to actual summer school fees, which have been rising steadily (currently $126 per unit according to the summer session Web site).

    The shuttle system is also needed by off-campus students who cannot afford to wait for the city buses that come every half hour. Anyone who has waited for the 34 early in the morning when there was no shuttle helping with the load will attest that the city bus system is often unable to accommodate frantic students, and that the crowded stops nearest campus are sometimes skipped entirely due to lack of space. Summer school students need transportation, especially when on-campus housing is limited and expensive.

    Also, because students are not always able to find summer housing on campus, let alone afford it, programs such as concerts and dances, would do little to help school spirit as there would be a small percentage of UCSD students on campus to enjoy the privileges.

    The university should also resist the urge to make summer quarter 10 weeks long; not only would this kill the point of taking summer school courses, but it also would take away the acceleration factor that appeals to so many when looking into courses. For instance, UCSD students can currently take up to 20 units during the summer sessions.

    More funding to improve UCSD’s summer sessions would be more than welcome. Hopefully, the school will devote that money to the things that really matter, like course selection, financial aid and transportation, instead of frittering it away on sparsely attended concerts and dances.

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