Preparing for High School Summer School: Tips for Teenagers and Adult Learners

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Preparing for High School Summer School: Tips for Teenagers and Adult Learners

As the school year winds down, not all students are leaving the classroom. For many teenagers and adult learners, summer school offers opportunities for enrichment, remediation, and everything in-between. Whether utilizing summer school to stay ahead with new courses or to improve previous grades, our online and in-person tutoring team are here to provide guidance. We understand firsthand that summer school credits differ from traditional full-year courses and are here to share our tips and tricks to help students prepare and succeed. In this blog post, we'll explore practical strategies and tips designed to maximize the summer school experience for teenagers and adult learners, including in-person and online summer tutoring. Whether embarking on a summer of learning to get ahead in coursework or to fill in knowledge gaps, let's dive into how to prepare effectively to thrive in summer school.

Although summer school serves students of various ages and for different reasons, this column will specifically focus on earning secondary school credits. Last summer, our very own Principal Judy shared her valuable advice on How to Thrive in Summer School: 8 Tips from a Principal’s Perspective. We highly recommend reviewing her insights. Building on its popularity, Teachers on Call’s online and in-person tutoring service is offering more tips and tricks this year to help secondary students prepare effectively to excel with in-person and remote credits, and credit recovery programs. Students will set themselves up for success in summer school by understanding benefits, clarifying expectations and being prepared. A proactive approach will empower students to achieve their summer learning goals with confidence and ease. Read on for our 12 educational tips (one of which is dedicated to online and in-person summer tutoring, of course!).

Here are 12 tips for teens and adult learners to master summer school:

Check course is still confirmed to start.

Make sure to check that your course is confirmed to take place. School boards and independent schools reserve the right to cancel a course due to low enrollment. Often a list of cancelled courses will be posted online by a set deadline. It's a good idea to stay updated with communications from your school or program to avoid any last-minute changes to your summer school plans.

Verify if there is an orientation session.

It’s always good to check if your program has an orientation session scheduled prior to the start of the course. It may also be a compulsory requirement. If there is an orientation, parents and guardians are usually invited to attend. This provides a good opportunity for students (and the adults who love them) to meet with a curriculum teacher face-to-face in advance of the course to ask questions and understand course expectations. 

Know the course requirements.

Obtain a syllabus or course outline beforehand if available. Understand what topics will be covered and any assignments or projects that may be required. The more prepared, the better!

Review previous material.

If the summer school course builds on knowledge from a previous class, take some time to review relevant material. This could include reviewing textbooks, notes, or assignments from the previous semester.

Understand the difference between credit recovery and accelerated courses.

Credit recovery summer school courses are for a duration of two weeks. This is meant for students who have taken the same course and level (within the previous two school years prior to summer school) and have achieved a mark between 35% and 49%. In comparison, accelerated summer school courses take place over four weeks. This is designed for students who are either taking the credit for the first time or have passed the course previously with a mark of 50% or higher and would like the opportunity to improve on this mark.

Be prepared to attend daily.

Attendance and punctuality is mandatory for both in-person and online credit courses in public and private systems.  Summer school attendance is compulsory to receive the course credit by attending the in-person classroom or logging into virtual sessions. We recommend that you check your attendance policy. However, students are typically permitted to be absent two to three days at most. It’s important to remember this as absence for personal activities or vacation will not be accepted. Yet, attending virtual classes daily from the cottage is permitted (just ensure you have strong internet connection). Regardless, students will want to stay present due to the accelerated speed of summer school courses (see next tip!).

Expect the fast pace of summer school courses.

Summer school courses cover an entire year's work in a compressed period of time. A credit course runs for 5.5 hours per day for 20 days (i.e., the requisite 110 hours to offer a credit).  Two-week sessions for credit recovery (i.e., 55 hours) are open to students who have already attempted the same course during the academic year and are working towards a passing grade. It’s important to note that one day of summer school is equivalent to more than one week of instruction in the regular school year. If you wait two weeks to ask for help, it is compared to waiting until November in a traditional course.

Ask for help early from a teacher or in-person / online summer tutor.

Summer school is a big commitment so it’s important to set students up for success to ensure their time is well spent.  These credits represent a full year course packed into four weeks.  What that means is that students will cover a full week’s curriculum every single day. When material is not understood, it is important to proactively ask for help from the course teacher or professional summer tutor. Engaging an in-person or online summer tutor who is fully knowledgeable in the subject specific curriculum can be immensely helpful keeping up with the speed of material covered, as well as reducing feelings of anxiety. This is especially true for core secondary subjects like Englishmath and science.

Organize your schedule.

Summer school has a condensed timeline, so it's important to manage your time effectively. Create a schedule that includes dedicated study time, breaks, and time for other activities to maintain a healthy balance.

Make time to complete homework and prepare for tests!

In order to succeed, students must be prepared to allocate significant time to work at home every day in addition to attending in-person or logging in for remote courses. The summer school day does not end when the bell rings, similarly to traditional full-year school. 

Ensure summer school is the main priority.

Part-time jobs or student volunteer commitments are not recommended during the summer course. Many school boards advise on their website that given the intense time commitment of summer school and coursework, a part-time daily summer job or volunteer commitment is not recommended during the same time as academic courses.

Keep a positive mindset.

Summer school can be intense, but staying positive and persistent will help students overcome challenges and achieve academic success. Celebrate small victories along the way to stay motivated, get help when needed and remember to have fun. Similar to the school year, summer school provides a chance to strengthen friendships and enjoy social interactions.


At Teachers on Call, we are always here to help students achieve their goals. On behalf of our in-person and online tutors, we wish all students success in their summer school courses!

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