Now that you’ve (hopefully) finished your spring semester, I’m sure the last thing that you want to hear about is summer school. After all, why would you want to sacrifice any of your freedom to take more classes? However, summer classes can be a great opportunity to earn credits in a relatively short period of time. Here are some pros and cons to taking summer classes.
- Shorter Classes: Depending on your school’s summer schedule, you can complete a semester’s worth of work in eight, five, or even three weeks. To compare, a regular semester generally lasts 16-18 weeks. On top of that, you will likely only be taking 1-2 classes at a time instead of four or more. Taking only one class is practically a vacation, right?
- It is a great way to complete gen eds: -If you’ve been putting off a class that you need in order to graduate (but is not related to your major), taking it during the summer could be a great option for you. Not only will you not be stuck in that class for the full semester, but it can also open up your schedule to take classes that you are interested in during the school year. And on top of that, you might even graduate earlier!
- You might save money: If you are attending a four-year college or a private college, you may have the option to take classes at a community college during the summer and transfer the credits (be sure to confirm your class selections with your advisor!). Community colleges often offer the same types of classes as a four-year college or university at a fraction of the cost. This could mean paying hundreds of dollars less out of pocket, and possibly even lowering your future student loan debt.
- Smaller Class Sizes: If you are intimidated by large lecture classes, you may want to consider taking summer classes. Depending on which class you take, you may be looking at class sizes of 20-50 at most. You will get the opportunity to connect more with your classmates and your professor, despite being in the class for only a few weeks.
- Summer classes can be intense: Remember how excited you were that you would only be in class eight weeks instead of 16 weeks? Well you’ll still need to be in the classroom approximately the same number of hours to get your credits. A shorter class session means that you’ll likely have longer class periods and/or more days per week in the classroom. And while this class model is preferable to some people, you need to consider the difficulty of your class, the possible homework and studying that will be involved, and your other time commitments over the summer (work, vacation, time with family, etc.). When I took a three week summer class, I was in the classroom three hours a day every weekday, not including homework or study time. If that time commitment sounds like too much for you, maybe opt for a five-or eight-week class instead.
- Burnout: Take a moment to think of how exhausted you are at the end of each semester. Now imagine that you have no significant break to look forward to between May and December. Summer classes, though very useful, can definitely cut into some much-needed relaxation. Try to schedule your summer classes so that you have at least one session free. You may not think that you need a break, but you’ll be begging for one by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.
- It may affect your financial aid and/or work study: If you are considering summer classes, make sure you research how a summer session will affect your financial aid. For example, some of your scholarships may not provide funding during the summer. You may also find that you are unable to keep your work- study position over the summer due to lack of funds. Be sure to check with your scholarship providers and the financial aid office at your school to confirm that you are able to afford your summer classes.
- Smaller selection of classes: Colleges often cut down course availability during the summer to account for fewer students and fewer professors on campus. You will likely be able to take just about any class that has several sections available during the school year, but if you’re looking for a high-level class specific to your major, you may be out of luck. Make sure to speak with your academic advisor about your options.
Summer classes are not for everyone, but you may be surprised to discover how helpful (and fun) they can be. Do you have any tips or information about summer classes? Leave them in the comments below!