Fast-tracked academic goals, lower tuition, and no nerds in sight
So classes are out, the sun is high in the sky, and college students everywhere are making plans to chill with their posses for three whole months. Well, actually, not quite. A growing number of those students are opting to hit the books instead of the beach this summer.
There was a time when summer school called up images of nerdy kids, remedial class work, and guaranteed membership in your school’s Hall of Shame. But today taking summer classes is part of a positive and growing trend towards year-round education. “More students,” said one educator, “are using summer simply as another semester.’’
Here are eight reasons why:
- Fast-tracked academic goals. If you want to finish your undergrad work in less than four years, or you plan on taking a double major, summer session is a great time to get a jump on your academic goals. Get basic courses or prerequisites out of the way, enroll in hard-to-get classes, or catch up on interdisciplinary courses.
- Lower tuition. At most schools – major universities as well as community colleges – the tuition for summer classes can be less than half the cost of classes held during the regular school year. Many schools also offer special summer grants, tuition discounts, and work/study programs to help you chip away at the cost of your higher education.
- Smaller classes and a richer learning experience. Summer classes are often smaller than classes held during the regular school year. Benefits to you: More personal attention from profs, more lively and meaningful class discussion, and a whole lot less stress.
- More efficient use of time. Shorter summer sessions usually mean that you can complete courses in half the time it would take during a regular semester – another big benefit if you hope to graduate early or plan on taking a double major. (We hate to say it, but summer is also a great time to take classes that you’re not looking forward to, since the time you’ll spend sitting through them is much shorter.)
- Reduced course load during the regular school year. If you know you’re going to have a heavy course load starting in the fall, nail a couple of classes over the summer to make your schedule more manageable come September. Summer session is also a great time to tackle harder courses or those that require a lot of extra effort – you’ll find it easier to do well when there aren’t so many other demands on your time.
- Expanded social circle. There’s something about the compressed schedule and relaxed pace of summer sessions that seems to encourage forming new friendships. If you’re taking summer classes, count on adding new friends to your already amazing group of buds. Transitioning to a new school, or from high school to college? You could start the fall with a ready-made group of friends.
- Convenience of anytime, anywhere online study. There’s been a huge increase in the number of summer classes that are offered online. The result? In just five years, the number of summer-session students taking classes online has risen from roughly 6% to nearly 30%. So whether you’re going home for the summer, traveling, or simply need a flexible class schedule because you’re working, chances are you’ll find a summer class you want online.
- The fun of trying something new just for the heck of it. Summer can be a great time to try something new just because you can. Take a risk. Step outside your comfort zone. Sign up for something silly (a friend’s trapeze lessons come to mind). If your chosen discipline doesn’t make your heart sing, experiment with other areas that interest you. If your chosen major feeds your intellect but not your passion for making a difference in the world, try taking a class or two that point to a different path.
Taking summer classes might not be your idea of the perfect way to spend the next three months, but if you choose to do it, we’re betting that in the long run you’ll be happy you did.