You've seen in your local newspaper that summer classes are starting up soon. There are even a few that fit into your intended major. So now you're beginning to wonder if you should sign up and get a few extra credits done before you go back to school. Still, you're not quite sure if it's the right decision for you. It's true that there are ups and downs to summer classes, and it's important to consider both before you make your choice.
Getting General Education Courses Out of the Way
General Education Courses, or Gen Eds, are the basic courses that give students a wide breadth of background knowledge. Also, they're usually pre-requisites for classes directly related to your major. Whether you see them as an interesting window into different disciplines or an uninteresting detour from your major, summer classes give you the chance to take them in less time. This means you can dive into classes directly related to your major sooner, or even graduate early!
Sticking to the Routine
During the school year, it's pretty easy to fall into a sort of rhythm. You'll hit your stride and be able to keep momentum and work ethic up. But after a lengthy summer break, you might notice that you've lost your rhythm when school time comes back around. If you don't stop working, that work ethic doesn't go away. So by taking summer classes you'll already be fully in the swing of things by the time you get back to school.
Just about every school has some sort of credit minimum for graduation. Summer classes can help you reach that minimum. If you can find classes that help you in your major, you can work towards your degree in both credit amount as well as major requirements. This means that during the year you'll be able to take less of a packed course-load, which means more time to focus on the more difficult classes, or napping.
If you pick a class that you really don't want to take but have to, there is at least one thing to look forward to. Summer classes run at a very accelerated pace. In a much shorter time than during the school year, you'll be done. You won't have to put up with a subject or teacher you hate for very long, and once you've finished you'll probably still have a chunk of summer left. Some students actually excel at the shorter programs, so if you're one of those students then summer classes are probably right for you.
Summer, to many, is about relieving school anxiety and cutting loose for a while. Instead of freaking out over homework and tests, you can see friends from your hometown, party, and just let all that stress go. Doing another class would just maintain that high stress level and no one in college wants to hit that burnout point if they can help it. After all, once you hit the working world, you don't get a summer break anymore. Might as well live it up while you can, right?
Harder to Get a Summer Job
Sometimes people use summer to get job experience and make a little extra cash. It can really set you ahead for future resumes and make school life more financially comfortable next semester. If you're taking summer classes, it makes your schedule a little more hectic. Some places you would rather work at might not even hire you because of your inability to work certain hours.
At college, you might find a huge selection of classes. If you don't want to study European history, you can study ancient Asian civilizations instead! With summer classes you probably won't get that kind of selection. You'll have to take whatever is available with whatever teachers are available. Even though you won't have to be in the class for very long, it can still be a drag if you're studying something you have no interest in.
This was already listed as a pro, but it can also be a con. With no time for study groups, reviewing tests and asking teachers for help, you'll be forced to adapt or risk failing. The material also comes at you so fast that if you're not clear on an initial concept, you probably won't understand the later related concepts. If you're the kind of student who can't easily deal with a fast paced class that has no time for review, then summer classes probably aren't the best choice for you.
If you think summer courses might not be for you, or you're still on the fence, there is another option. Study.com offers a wide variety of college credit courses that you can take online. Taking courses online lets you choose when you want to study, meaning you can still spend time with your friends or accept that awesome internship. Check out our full list of college credit courses to see if online studying is for you.