CCC students sweat through fast-paced summer coursework

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo April Fischer, 34, decided to take beginning algebra during the eight-week summer semester at Clovis Community College but, despite warnings, wasn’t prepared for how fast-paced the class would be.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

After being out of school for 16 years, April Fischer was nervous to return in the spring.

The nerves came back full force when she signed up for a summer eight-week beginning algebra class at Clovis Community College.

“They told me it would be fast-paced,” the 34-year-old said. “But I didn’t expect it.”

Fischer, a mother of three and a teacher’s aid at the Texas Migrant School, decided to go back to school to get her degree in early childhood education. After working for the migrant school for three years, she said she finally decided what she wanted to do.

“I always wanted to go to college,” she said. “But I never knew what I wanted to do. I know now that I want to work with kids.”

Fischer said the algebra class is the first summer class she’s ever taken, and it’s definitely taking a toll.

“I felt very comfortable with math, so I decided to give it a try. But it’s crazy,” Fischer said. “There doesn’t seem like there’s enough time to really absorb the information.”

Fischer’s teacher, Donna Pharies, said she finds students are more successful in short summer semesters than in longer spring or fall semesters.

The beginning algebra class is held 8:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays.

Pharies said students sometimes struggle getting all their homework done between Monday and Wednesday. But the concentration of work tends to lead to success.

“If they have the time to focus on it, they tend to do better,” Pharies said. “I don’t like math once week, like it is during long semesters. In summer, it’s twice a week and gives them more time to focus on it.

“I think, as a general rule, summer students are less likely to drop a class. They’re there to get it done,” Pharies said.

Fischer said even though the time frame of the class is hard, she’s determined to keep up her 4.0 grade-point average.

“My kids know when mom’s doing homework that they need to let me do it. They know how important it is for me. And they get excited when I get my grades. So it makes it even better when they see me doing it, they know they can too,” Fischer said.