As an engineering student, we have the great privilege of taking 130+ units for our majors. I am an environmental engineer, and I have a cute 136 units to complete for my degree. While I love what I’m doing and am excited to move into the future semesters of my degree, I do want to take some of the more fun classes USC has to offer that aren’t just my GEs. There are a few avenues to do this, including the Academic Achievement Award and Exceptional Funding, but over 20 units a semester didn’t seem like an appealing prospect. So I chose the route of taking a summer class to free up my schedule a little more. I took Physics 152 over the summer: what was that like?
Summer classes are expected to be rigorous and fast-paced, with long lectures and frequent homeworks and labs in order to fit a semester of content into a few weeks. PHYS152 was no different: we had two-hour lectures Monday through Thursday and labs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays were off! My class was also online: I was very fortunate to have this option as I was working a full time job at the time. I ended up watching all of the lectures in the evening when I got home from work, followed by lab or homework. The lab being online was interesting. We were all mailed a lab kit full of electrical supplies, including a breadboard, wires, batteries, a switch, capacitors, resistors, inductors, and more. The labs were held online with a TA who was there to help us, but since I was working, I would watch these recordings after the labs. This was the worst part of the course because I had never done electrical work before, and learning to do it with little to no help after a 9 hour day of teaching kids at work was pretty frustrating. However, the TA was receptive to malfunctioning equipment and my circumstances and helped me a lot through the labs. The professor was also very understanding and a great lecturer.
Something I also wasn’t aware of before taking my class was that the summer is split into two sections: one section from May to mid-June, and one from the end of June through the beginning of August. When I registered for PHYS152 over the summer, I wasn’t aware that my class would be one semester crammed into a little over 5 weeks; I thought I had the whole summer. This is definitely something to keep in mind. Additionally, there was no curve, which was tough but doable.
Overall, the experience was definitely what I expected, if not more rigorous, but I would definitely choose this option over taking more than 18 units any day. Now, I can take more electives and reorganize my schedule for more flexibility. Ultimately, I learned a lot in PHYS152, and ended with a B+!