College is a time of decisions great and small. One dilemma that you face as you start planning the school year ahead is whether or not to take summer classes. Make no mistake, it’s no small choice…there are definite advantages to picking up a summer course or two, but it’s not the route for everyone, and wading through the benefits and drawbacks may be overwhelming to you as you juggle your other school-related responsibilities.
No need to sweat your decision. Here you’ll find a list of summer course pros and cons to get you started, so you can decide whether you should take a break or be a year-round student.
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Pro: Class Sizes
One big benefit to summer classes is that they’re typically smaller because—let’s face it— most people would rather have the vacation time. But this can actually be very helpful, especially if you’re the type of person who learns better with one-on-one attention. With the freedom to ask more questions and interact with your professors, you can improve your overall learning experience and retain information better.
In addition, most teachers foster a more casual learning environment during the summer months, which relieves some of the pressure on students and encourages more dialogue.
Con: Course Options
One drawback to summer classes is the limited amount of course options. As previously mentioned, summer enrollment in most schools is pretty low, which puts some constraints on how many and what types of courses can be offered.
This means you really have to plan out the rest of your year so you only take classes that aren’t available to you during summer sessions, leaving you to take the classes you didn’t take in the fall and winter during the summer. But hey, part of being a college student is learning to be flexible, right?
Pro: Get Focused and Get Ahead
Summer courses allow you to get ahead of the curve. You can shorten the entirety of your college years a significant amount by taking courses year-round, putting you ahead in your curriculum and allowing you to graduate early.
Or, if you are the type who likes to focus deeply on each of your classes, you can take smaller loads each semester and take classes in the summer to keep you on track to graduate. This is a great option for those who want to concentrate on getting high grades, because it allows you to put more time into each class in order to ensure you know the material.
Whether you want to speed up your college experience or are just trying to do it as thoroughly as possible, summer classes are a good option to meet both of these goals.
Con: Financial Considerations
Some people prefer not to take summer courses since it does limit how much time you can put into working a job. For those who are paying for their own education and are trying to do it without taking out any student loans, summer courses may not be a great option due to financial reasons.
Instead, it may be better to spend your summer working to make sure you can cover all of your school-year costs. However, if you plan on taking out loans and paying them back after you finish your degree, you can receive aid even in the summer to help you with your educational goals.
Pro: Stay in Your Groove
When you take your fall and spring classes, you quickly develop the study habits and routines that you need in order to get your work done in the time frame allotted. However, we all know how easy it is to slip into lazy routines when you have had a whole summer to do whatever it is you want. Summer classes allow you to keep up the habits you started during the school year so you never really fall out of your groove. After all, it is much easier to maintain good habits than it is to re-learn them!
Pro or Con? Shorter Classes
Typically, summer courses are accelerated to get you through the material more quickly. This can either be a pro or a con depending on what kind of person you are. Summer classes are often two hours or more and only last for a few weeks, and you’ll be getting loads of information to process. For some people, this is a lot of work as well as a lot of stress, so it may not be the ideal way to go, especially considering the fact that many college students suffer from anxiety related to the stress of school. However, if you perform well under pressure, an accelerated class might suit you well.
As with anything, summer courses have benefits and drawbacks. If you prefer discipline, are highly motivated, and want to move ahead, summer courses are a fantastic option. If you need downtime or want to take your time during school to work and explore, then give yourself the summer off.
Whatever you choose, go at your own pace and enjoy the ride.