After a semester loaded with classes, term papers, exams and stress galore, the summer months are the perfect time for relaxation, vacations, summer jobs and internships … unless you decide to enroll in a college summer school program!
There are definitely some advantages to taking classes during your summer break, but you have to decide if they outweigh the potentially negative factors. Here are 10 important things to take into consideration when making your decision:
1. You can get core classes or prerequisites out of the way. Every college student must take a set of basic core classes in subjects like English, math and science. Most classes within a particular major have prerequisites, which are classes that must be satisfactorily completed before moving on to more advanced classes. Summer is a great time to get core classes and prerequisites taken care of.
2. You can earn college credit in just a few weeks. Summer sessions are generally much shorter than traditional college semesters or even quarters, depending on the type of academic calendar your school follows. You can still earn the same amount of credit you would earn during the school year, but you will earn it much faster.
3. Summer classes often have far fewer students than classes during the school year. Most college students take the term “summer break” literally and take a break from school. This means that there are a lot less students on campus and far fewer students in each class. If you appreciate one-on-one attention from your instructors, you will probably benefit from the smaller class sizes.
4. You will only have to concentrate on one or two classes at a time. Because summer classes cover a semester or quarter’s worth of material in just a few weeks, it’s advisable to take just one or two courses at a time. Each course will seem much more intensive, but you won’t have four or five other classes to study for and worry about.
5. You can get the tough or boring classes over with. If you know that math or one of your other required core classes isn’t your strong suit or you must take something that doesn’t interest you whatsoever in order to graduate, why not get it out of the way in just a few weeks rather than drag it out?
1. You will be spending more money on school. Depending on your unique financial aid situation, you may have to pay out of pocket or set up a tuition payment plan to go to summer school. At some colleges and universities, summer courses cost slightly more per credit than “traditional” school-year classes.
2. Fewer courses are offered during the summer. Your choices will be limited during the summer—there aren’t as many students or professors on campus during the break, so fewer courses are taught! If you’re able to find something that you need, great. Otherwise, you may be out of luck.
3. Classes might be taught by adjunct professors rather than full-time faculty members. Adjunct professors, who have the appropriate degrees and credentials to teach yet are not full-time employees of the college or university, are often hired as instructors during the summer months. Some students feel funny paying full-price for a “part-time” instructor and adjuncts often get a bad reputation, even though most are qualified professors.
4. You might feel rushed. Wrapping up a class in a shorter period of time means that you’ll be covering a lot of information quickly. You might sit in class for four or five hours per day, four or five days per week, as opposed to the usual three or four hours per week that you’re used to spending during the fall and spring.
5. You may not have time to work or hang out with your friends as much as you would like. If you generally get a job or hang out with friends during breaks from school, you might be in for a rude awakening. Summer classes will take up a large chunk of your time. If you’re able to work at all, you might have to put in far fewer hours than you’d like. Your friends might get annoyed when you’re not able to spend as much time with them as you usually do.
These are just a few of the pros and cons of going to summer school. You should weigh all of your options carefully before making a decision one way or the other to prevent possible problems—some people love the intensity of shorter classes but others get stressed out and earn lower grades than they would like.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.