Why You Should Take Summer Classes
Okay, so spending summer in a classroom is basically the nightmare of every elementary, middle, and high school student. “Summer school” is more like a term of punishment rather than an enthusiastic suggestion. What makes college any different? You might still miss out on all that beach time, sleeping in, and generally not thinking about school, right?
Not necessarily. The pros of taking classes during summer while in college definitely outweigh the cons. When I was an undergrad, I actually hated the summer. It meant I had to move back home and be away from campus—a place I really loved—and also from a lot of my friends who lived locally. It meant getting a full time, boring summer job (uh, hello, sweating profusely while serving ice cream cones at Disney World). And it meant having to turn off my brain for months at a time. As someone who really enjoys school and the act of learning, summer felt like pure brain rot, no matter how hard I tried to stay connected.
So, maybe you don’t feel the same—maybe your summers really do mean endless beach days and sleeping in (and if so, tell me your secrets). But, I’m still here to tell you that staying at school over the summer and taking a few classes might be one of the best summer break decisions you could make. Here’s why.
You usually get smaller classes.
The selection of courses offered in the summer is generally smaller, and so are the class sizes. Supply, and demand: there are usually far fewer students signing up for courses in the summer, hence fewer and smaller classes. For anyone who has ever been crammed into an auditorium with 200 other people in a lecture, a small class might feel like a refreshing change. You get more one-on-one attention, making for an enhanced learning experience.
There are less people on campus.
I have taught summer courses for the last 3 years, and by the time April rolls around, I can’t wait for summer session to start and spring to end. I never have trouble finding parking on campus in the summer, there is never a line at the library Starbucks, and I never struggle to find a table outside my classroom building when I have a break to enjoy the summer weather. The rec center is a ghost town, and normally busy offices like financial aid and the registrar have no lines when I need paperwork done or questions answered. Campus is quiet, calm, and enjoyable in the summer.
You can spend less time on a certain class.
I teach first year composition in the summers as well as the normal academic year. In the summer, it’s the same course material, just done in a smaller amount of time. Most universities will have multiple summer sessions of varying lengths. So, if there is a class you have to take but are particularly dreading, you might be able to get it done in an accelerated amount of time, rather than drag it out over a whole semester. In that same light, some classes might be more challenging when on an accelerated time frame, so keep that in mind when choosing what to take over the summer.
You can graduate faster.
Summer sessions are like mini-semesters in which you take courses you want to get out of the way, and ultimately finish your degree faster. With more and more universities urging students to finish in four years or less, there is no harm in getting a head start on meeting that goal. If you rely on federal aid, for example, then you might get cut off after a certain amount of credit hour attempts. Cut down on credit hours overall and streamline your path to graduation.
You can stay local.
If you are like I was as an undergrad, summer time means going home, which can be a drag. If you take summer classes, you will have a reason to stay local to campus, and to your friends and normal social activities. You won’t have to only seek out “seasonal” employment, either, since you won’t be coming and going with the summer.
You can do a summer internship for credit.
Internships are essential to some majors, and sometimes, it can be difficult to land a good one in the primetime of fall and spring semesters. If you decide to do an internship in the summer instead, you might have an easier time landing the internship you want, and be able to do it without all the normal stress that comes along with the hectic academic year.
You can keep your brain active and busy.
I don’t know about you, but after summer break, getting back to work at school felt overwhelming. I had trouble getting back into the groove of tests, papers, and studying. But, when I stay in school over the summer, it makes that transition back into the academic year much easier. Studies have shown that students tested better at the start of summer vacation than at the end, essentially due to the loss in learning that can happen over long breaks. So, stay for summer, and keep your brain happy.
You are less likely to be distracted.
Because there are fewer people on campus during summer, the party life tends to die down as well. Many students go home and leave town, so that urge to stray from your schoolwork to go party or have fun is minimized. Sure, it is summer, and there will be time for fun after summer session ends, but imagine having an entire semester of studies without the mountain of distractions that often come with the normal academic year—you could kick that semester’s butt.
So, sure, you might want to spend those warm summer months lazily lounging on a beach—but why not spend them lounging on a beach with a book between classes, and finishing your degree early? Sounds like a fair tradeoff to me.