Robert Sisk

Robert Sisk checks his notes in the Falcon Center after a summer class at Fairmont State University where he is studying biology and chemistry.

FAIRMONT – Robert Sisk’s potential aspirations include attending medical school or going for a master’s degree.

Either way, the junior at Fairmont State University has to keep up with his current school work to get to the point of moving on. Because he is pursuing a double major in chemistry and biology, he needs some extra school time.

“I did have a lot of classes yet to take because I’m a double major,” Sisk said. “I wanted to try to keep my graduation date close so I figured I would knock out a few courses.”

Because of his double major, Sisk said that taking summer classes is practically a must if he wants to ensure he graduates on time and can pursue his further education. However, the other 615 undergraduate students and 109 graduate students taking summer classes this year may have other reasons for their summer enrollment, whether it be to keep up or catch up.

“They’re primarily general education courses to allow students to either get ahead on their schedule of courses or perhaps catch up,” said Richard Harvey, provost for Fairmont State University. “That has kind of been the traditional role of summer; very limited offerings, and just kind of serving that purpose.”

According to Harvey, the university is offering 84 undergraduate courses and 19 graduate courses this summer, which are broken up into two accelerated semesters. Harvey also said that the model for the summer terms is likely to change for next year’s, morphing into a plan that more resembles the regular fall and spring semesters.

“This is probably the last summer we’re going to follow the traditional summer school model,” Harvey said. “I’m trying to move the institution to a much more robust summer term. We’re going to try to make the summer term more roughly equivalent to summer and spring, so students can go more or less full time like they do.”

Harvey said that with a remodeled summer semester, Fairmont State will be better equipped to allow students to be full-time all year round, meaning they can graduate and complete their programs in a shorter amount of time.

As it is now, there are two terms in the summer, so students can either go early or late in the summer. Sisk, for example, is taking physics 1 this summer term, and will go right into physics 2 when the next term begins June 24.

“Summer classes are accelerated,” Sisk said. “They do move a little faster, but if you catch on pretty quick there are a lot of advantages, like you’re here less time.”

While Sisk takes his classes on campus, Harvey said that most students enrolled in summer courses take them completely online. Online courses allow for students to save on time and travel, so they are able to partake in other summer endeavors such as jobs and internships.

“Probably 90 percent of them are online,” Harvey said. “We have very few face to face courses because students just could not accommodate the traditional summer school model.”

Sisk, however, has to accommodate his school work because of how engrossed he is with his physics classes, seeing as how much time and work the lessons require. He said he is hoping to graduate in spring of 2021, so the benefits of summer classes are so far worth it to him.

“Honestly I do work a little but physics dominates my time,” Sisk said. “We were in class from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and I get two or three hours of homework every night so it’s like a full-time job on it’s own."

Email Eddie Trizzino at and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.

News Reporter

Eddie Trizzino has been a reporter with the Times West Virginian since August of 2017, covering the entertainment, business and health beats. He spends most of his time listening to records, going to the movies and strolling through the town.