Summer Classes: To Enroll or Not to Enroll, That is the Question
After the last papers are handed in and finals week is over, many students look forward to a summer of work, internships, and vacation. Others, however, choose to stick around campus and take summer courses.
While high school students fear summer classes, those in college find summer sessions to be a valuable opportunity to get ahead. Before you enroll, consider both the benefits and disadvantages of summer courses so you can get the most out of your summer.
Summer classes put students on the fast track. Taking summer courses allows students to earn credits “off-season,” which may allow them to graduate a semester (or year) early, saving money on tuition. These credits can also lighten a student’s course load during the fall and springs semesters, allowing them to better focus on challenging classes the following year. Students can use summer sessions to fulfill requirements they’re less than enthusiastic about or take a prerequisite course so that they can dive into a subject at a higher level come the fall. It may be easier for students to get into popular courses during the summer, a perfect time to dabble in subjects of personal interest or introductory classes for possible majors.
Summer sessions may provide an optimal learning environment. Some students may find that they learn better in summer courses. Class sizes tend to be smaller, guaranteeing more personal attention and interaction with the professor and other students. Because summer courses generally start within a few weeks of the end of the spring semester, students are able to stay in the studying frame of mind and may have an easier transition back to college in the fall. It is generally advised that students only take 1-2 summer courses at a time, as they are much faster and meet more frequently than typical college classes. Additionally, the summer often promotes a more informal, relaxed environment for students that may be preferable to the rigorous tensions of the rest of the year.
Keep In Mind: Summer courses may not be right for everyone. Summer classes tend to be more expensive than courses taken during traditional semesters, because there are fewer students but similar overhead costs. Students should also be aware that many financial aid packages do not cover summer classes. As mentioned previously, summer courses generally move faster than other classes because there is less time to cover the same amount of material. Most summer courses meet between 3-5 days a week for several hours over the course of 3-6 weeks. This can limit a student’s ability to get a job or internship during the summer, an ideal time to make money and build resumes, and can keep a student from enjoying well-deserved vacation.
The summer provides a great opportunity for students to get ahead in their coursework with better focus and increased attention from their professors. It is important to recognize that summer classes are not for everyone, and their value is largely determined by personal preference and learning style.
If you do decide to enroll in summer courses, be sure to also include the classes you’ll be taking in your fall schedule so that if you are unable to complete your summer coursework you don’t lose your spot in that class. If you enroll in summer classes at a local university or community college, first get approval from the university you attend to ensure that credits and grades will transfer. Some universities only accept credits from summer classes; in this case it’s important to note that performance in summer courses will not affect your GPA. Once you have clearance from your dean regarding credit transfers and have created a feasible schedule, you’re ready to take on summer classes. Happy summer!