Washington State University Summer Session has become an essential component of university life, providing students with valuable opportunities to continue their education and explore new subjects outside the traditional academic year.
Summer Session has evolved over time, adapting to the changing needs and interests of students. The roots can be traced back to June 25, 1900, when the campus hosted the first session.
Initially, WSU Summer Session primarily catered to students who needed to make up for failed courses or those seeking to accelerate their academic progress. It offered them a chance to catch up or get ahead without the constraints of the regular school year.
Today, the program has been modified to be both flexible and cost-effective for students to get the most out of their summer. Over 1,000 classes are offered in locations all over the state on various WSU campuses, as well as online.
Over the years, Summer Session expanded beyond remedial or accelerated learning. On June 1, 1988, the first Summer Orientation Program was introduced, aiming to welcome new students and their parents to campus. This program provided valuable insights into university life, helping freshmen acclimatize to their new environment and fostering a sense of belonging from the start.
Now called New Coug Orientation, the program is hosted throughout the summer, allowing many students who take summer classes to have jobs as orientation counselors and Cougar Connectors on campus. Cougar Connectors work as hosts in promoting WSU by distributing information and sharing their personal experiences. This not only gives new students a better sense of campus and community, but it also allows students to share their Cougar pride.
“Meeting potential new students was an incredibly rewarding experience; their curiosity and excitement to find the school for them lit a spark in me. I was able to share memories from my sorority as well as stories I heard from my sister that made me love WSU. I also shared my personal experiences navigating dorms and dining halls, but really I focused on the community that drew me to WSU, the tailgates, Greek life, and Cougar love,” said Aly Wittman, a WSU senior and a former Cougar Connector.
Cougs help Cougs; it is a well-known phrase that summarizes the community found in Pullman. Summer is a time where campus is a little calmer, and many students can explore what could be their future home for the next four years.
Another side of summer life at WSU is the sight of athletes working to train or students who work closely with athletes in the nutrition department, camps, or gyms.
“Every day I eat my lunch up at the top of Terrell Library by the skylight dome. It gives a great view of the mall as well as the rolling hills, and of course the football practice field,” said Katie Watkins, a junior pursuing a kinesiology degree who works in sports nutrition. She decided to stay in Pullman over the summer to take advantage of the Summer Session offerings.
Watkins emphasized the peaceful and conducive environment the library provides, stating, “I start the day utilizing the quiet surroundings of the library before my labs on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.” Her experience is not unique, as she works with athletes who are required to be in Pullman for summer workouts and training and take advantage of this time to enroll in summer courses and study in the library.
The library also creates displays for holidays over the summer such as Juneteenth, hosts scavenger hunts for incoming students, and offers a cold place to escape the heat, as well as a calm environment to study.
In early August, a rush of students comes to prepare early for fraternity and sorority formal recruitment. Although some positions stay over the summer, most of them flood in at the same time.
Parastu Hariri, a sorority member involved in formal recruitment, remembers her previous summer before recruitment when she utilized the library at night for her summer math course. “Living with over 50 girls is super fun, but sometimes I need to be able to focus, and the library is a short walk away,” she said.
While Pullman may be a small town, it bustles with activity during the summer. The library serves as a sanctuary for students who need to concentrate on their studies. It becomes a place where they can accomplish their academic goals and subsequently savor the warmth of summer while reuniting with college friends.
Today, Summer Session has transformed into a thriving and vibrant part of campus life. It offers a diverse range of courses and programs, allowing students to explore new subjects, fulfill degree requirements, or take specialized courses not available during the regular semester. Summer Session has become an integral component of the educational experience, accommodating the various needs and aspirations of WSU students.
As campuses continue to evolve, programs like WSU Summer Session will undoubtedly adapt to meet students’ changing demands. Whether it’s catching up on credits, delving into a passion, or preparing for the future, students taking summer courses can expand their knowledge and grow academically, all while enjoying the unique charm of the summer season.
Photos by Francesca Beer
Photos from the start of Summer Session, featured in the Daily Evergreen.