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Summer School, Diet Coke and Red Bull

Summer School, Diet Coke and Red Bull

Written by Jim Larkin and Jack Powers

For some, the very term “summer school” is an oxymoron. However, for those interested in forging ahead of the pack in their education, it can be a fantastic opportunity. And if you understand how your personality type affects your learning preferences, the dog days of summer may turn out to be the most productive of the school year.


School “Plus”

If a normal semester is Diet Coke®, summer school is Red Bull. The classes are longer, subject matter is much more condensed. Also, the scope is much more focused — rather than taking 4-5 courses, you may only be taking 2 classes. Your learning approach, therefore, needs to be adjusted to the dynamics of a much more high speed, intense experience.

Let’s start by taking a look at the Judging (J)/Perceiving (P) preference, which influences how people relate to the outer world, whether it be through structure and organization (J) or through adaptability and new experiences (P).

Stick to a schedule, lest the schedule stick ye

We’ve talked before about what your preference for either Judging or Perceiving says about how you schedule your study time. If you’re a J, we probably don’t have to tell you to stick to a calendar. You’ll likely do this naturally. While this behavior pays off in a regular semester, it becomes even more important in summer school, where the shortened course duration leaves much less wiggle room, so to speak.

iStock_Student eating apple

For P’s, this is a good time to practice flexing your type preferences. As someone who enjoys spontaneity, following a study calendar may not be your first choice. But when you’re taking in such an enormous amount of information so quickly, if you don’t give some structure to your studying you’ll soon find yourself buried in a massive pile of notes (assuming of course that you take notes — if you don’t, your problems are beyond the scope of this blog!).

So for P’s, the benefits of staying on top of things will far outweigh the discomfort of flexing your type preference. And, believe us, the unpleasantness of trying to cram for summer school finals will be much worse than that of adhering to a schedule.

There is no “tomorrow”

This isn’t to say that it’s all flexing for P’s, or that J’s don’t have to flex too. As a group P’s value change, are open to new information, and like adapting to events. The fast pace and in-depth subject-matter immersion of summer school can be a very energizing experience. In fact, P’s, with their impulsive, high energy work habits may in fact be very well suited for “do it and do it now” ethos of summer school.

And for a group that’s motivated by deadlines to finish projects, the shortened course duration may be just what the doctor ordered. While a regular semester may tempt you to procrastinate, the summer school “half-semester” that leaves you with only a few weeks to complete a project may give you that burst of energy and sense of urgency that you need to buckle down and get things done.

Young reading student with a deadlineConversely, J’s may need to check some of their need to plan work well in advance at the door — there’s not really any such thing as “well in advance” when the course is only six weeks. Similarly, the frenetic pace of the course may rub against your need for order and structure, and some courses are likely to feel like one surprise after another.

Chances are you’ll have to flex your preferences by cutting some of your planning and calendaring time short and diving in a little quicker than you might normally feel comfortable. But if you can step outside your comfort zone, while yet retaining expression of your innate desire to maintain order in the process, you too will have a rewarding, energizing experience.

Next time we’ll discuss how your preference for Extraversion, Introversion, Sensing and Intuition may play into your summer school experience. Until then, enjoy!


Diet Coke is a registered trademark of the Coca-Cola Company.

One Comment

  1. As we head into the summer block semester, I’ll definitely be using this with my students. I really appreciate the advice for J’s to dive in a little quicker. I sometimes forget that Js in all their color-coded scheduling glory need a little guidance now and again.

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