For many students, the arrival of summer means going back home, finding work and taking a break from the books.

Western's 2008 Summer Session offers other options, from staying in Bellingham and picking up more credits to camping on the Olympic Peninsula or studying abroad in South Africa and Japan.

“It's a great opportunity for current students to take classes, either in their major or another field of interest, that they couldn't fit into their schedules otherwise,” said Kathy Bailey, program coordinator for Extended Education and Summer Programs.

According to Bailey, about 3,000 students attend Summer Session every year, in addition to community members and students from other schools. Senior Brian Vines attended Summer Session last year and will take another summer course this year.

“I'm working on two degrees in Marketing and Operations Management,” Vines said. “I'm finished with Marketing, but I still need one more course in Operations Management to graduate.”

Summer quarter classes are held in either the six-week session (from June 24 to Aug. 1) or the nine-week session (June 24 to Aug. 22). Because quarters during the academic year are 11 weeks long, summer classes are often offered in a more concentrated form.

“Since they're a little shorter, summer classes can sometimes be intense,” Bailey said.

Vines said that while the summer classes he's taken have been challenging, he's also glad he took part in Summer Session.

“The classes were a bit accelerated because we only had six weeks instead of a full quarter, but they were also a lot of fun,” Vines said.

Besides conventional classes, students can also opt for education with a twist of adventure. Advanced Studies in Field Science, a five-credit Fairhaven class, includes two classroom sessions and a week-long camping trip on the Olympic Peninsula, during which students can visit old-growth rainforests and inter-tidal zones and hike on Hurricane Ridge, among other activities.

Summer Session also offers study abroad opportunities, with a Rainforest Immersion and Conservation Action course in Costa Rica, a political science travel course in South Africa and an art history course in Japan.

While the application deadlines for these trips have already passed, there might still be room for additional students to go on the South Africa or Japan trips, Bailey said. For more information, interested students can check the Summer Session Web site at http://www.wwu.edu/~summer.

In addition, the Sociology department will host the eight-week Summer Undergraduate Program in Population, Health and Aging. According to the Summer Session Web site, students who take part in this program will work in research teams with faculty and heath care professionals to create solutions to problems in population and health. An application for this program is available at the Summer Session Web site.

Summer Session registration started May 6 and ends June 23. According to Bailey, currently matriculated Western students who would like to register for summer classes can do so through Web4U, just as they would for any other quarter.

“There's been some confusion because we have a Summer Session application on our Web site, but that application is only for community members or non-Western students,” Bailey said. “If you're a current student, it isn't necessary to do anything extra.”