The Pros and Cons of Taking Summer Classes
Beating the summer heat by hitting the books.
Whether you're earning a four year degree, or going for an associate's or certificate in a trade, and whether you're at a community college or University, you will have the option to take courses during the Summer, and there's pros and cons to both. As a tutor, I see firsthand the types of students that take classes during the Summer, and what can generally be expected, so I hope to paint a picture of what it's like, so you can decide if summer classes are right for you!
Pro: A better deal
While this may be subtle, as technically the cost of tuition per credit hour will be the same, you are ultimately paying the same amount for a course that you can complete in half the time or less. This in turn will free up space in your Fall schedule to take your next set of required courses, and will ultimately allow you the possibility of finishing a semester early. Just imagine the savings there! As far as concrete savings, most student fees are less in the summer, if they are incurred at all. Some students from universities take summer savings even further by enrolling in a local community college to take the same course they would have at their university at a fraction of the price.
Con: More Work
As alluded to earlier, A summer term is typically half the length of fall or spring. While you'll be able to complete summer courses sooner, it is still the same amount of material as it would be if those courses were taken in the other semesters. With summer classes, you must be more disciplined, and have the time necessary to stay on top of your school work, and essentially complete the same amount of work in half the time.
Pro: Core courses, and convenient scheduling
Most courses offered in the summer are going to be core courses that almost every student needs, regardless of their major—things like your standard English, Math, or Communications courses. It is a good opportunity to get those courses out of the way, so you can devote more time in the fall and spring to the courses in your chosen major. It's also a great second chance to take one of these courses over, and improve your GPA if you had to drop it previously, or received a failing grade.
More online courses are typically offered in the summer, and this can be very appealing if you work part time, or have other obligations. You can work through the material at your own pace, and don't have to physically be on campus. Even if you prefer face to face classes, there are summer courses offered in person, and they may meet every day of the week due to the short semester. This can help you get into a rhythm and routine.
Cons: Limited courses, and inconvenient scheduling
While the summer term offers the generic courses needed, you may be out of luck when searching for a specific course required in your major, especially if you attend a smaller school. The fact remains that summers aren't as busy, and schools have to arrange their budgets, and what's offered accordingly. Even if you do see that course you want or need, it may not be offered at a time convenient to you. Even with core classes, fewer sections are offered in the summer, and you have to be aware of when these classes take place to see if they can work with your schedule.
Pro: Maintaining Momentum
I believe the power of momentum is a real thing, and if you take summer classes you'll be able to maintain your study habits, and keep your mind sharp. Once you've gone near three months without sitting through a lecture, writing a paper, or solving a problem, it can be difficult to get back in the swing of things, but taking summer classes can prevent this academic rust.
Con: The Campus is dead, and your Summer plans could be too.
If you're looking to get or stay involved with clubs, events, or other extra-curricular activities during the summer, you may be met with tumbleweeds. Even the largest of colleges see a sharp decline in the number of students enrolled during the summer, and there's simply not many people around, or a lot going on. Taking classes could dampen your personal summer plans too, as you have to focus on courses that will probably take time away from any vacations you may want to plan, or other fun summer activities.
In the end, deciding whether or not to enroll in summer courses will depend on the individual, but at least know that you always have the option!