At the end of a busy semester of study, you may not be thinking ahead to summer school. That’s to be expected. Many students view summer as their chance for a break, not a chance to continue their studies.
Yet summer school can have quite a few benefits that are worth considering. If you are on the path toward completing a degree, don’t discount this option to do so a little faster. By weighing the pros and cons of summer school, you can make the choice that best fits your educational goals.
Pro: Lighten up Your Fall and Spring Semester Load
If you consider summer school as a third semester, you might be able to take fewer classes during the fall and spring semesters. If you are nearing the end of your degree and find that the coursework is getting harder, pushing some courses to summer school lets you take a more bearable load in the fall and spring semesters. If you find that your semesters are just getting too hard, and don’t want to graduate later, then consider this strategy.
Con: Summer School Courses Move Quickly
When you take a course in summer school, you often have to complete a full semester of study in four to six weeks. This means your professors have to pack more into each day than they would during the spring and fall semesters. Sometimes the classes are longer, and other times the homework is more intense. You will have tests and quizzes with more regularity. Make sure you’re ready for this level of intensity. Make sure you use the right strategies to stay focused on your studies if you take a summer school course.
Pro: You Can Graduate Early
College is expensive, and the more time you spend in college, the longer it will take to fully launch your career. When you take some classes in summer school, you often will be able to graduate early. Graduating early also means you won’t be competing with all of the classmates in your major. If you are living on campus, early graduation also lets you save some money on room and board.
Con: Summer School Can Cost More
Sometimes summer school costs more than schooling during the regular semester. If you are on a scholarship, check the terms of the scholarship carefully. It may not cover summer courses. Similarly, if you have funds through a work-study program, your work position may not be available during the summer. You’ll may also have to pay for your room and board during the summer if you stay on campus.
One way to get around some of these added costs is to take these courses online from home or at your local community college, then transfer them to your university. If you choose this route, always check first to see if they will transfer.
Pro: Online Courses Give Flexibility
The rise in online education makes summer college classes more attainable in many programs. Students can study online during the summer term and still go home to work jobs and get paid for their efforts. If you are able to take advantage of online courses, this can make summer school affordable and flexible.
Con: Class Options May Be Limited
Summer school class options may be limited. First, professors, like students, enjoy summer break, so they may not offer as many courses during this term. Second, summer school is very popular, and so classes that are offered may fill quickly. If you decide that summer school helps you reach your graduation goals, sign up for the classes you need early.
Pro: Get Those General Education Classes out of the Way
General education—the English, math, and history classes that everyone takes, regardless of their major—can be a bit of a drag during college, especially when you want to focus on the classes in your major that teach what you’re passionate about. Summer school gives you the ability to get those gen ed classes out of the way in a streamlined manner. By finishing these mandatory classes in summer school, you can spend your semesters focusing on learning the things that drive your passion.
Con: Summer School Can Create Burnout
College life is intense. You spend many hours of the day studying and researching. Sometimes, you just need a break. When you stick with the grind, even in the summer, you may be more prone to burnout.
Pro: Summer Works Well for Internships
If you find yourself on the verge of burnout, don’t discount the thought of using summer to complete some educational requirement. Instead of coursework, consider the summer term as the chance to complete a required internship. You can gain valuable on-the-job training, without demanding academics, and still check off some requirements for your degree. Scoring a summer internship can be one of the most valuable parts of your education experience.
Con: Summer School Means Less Opportunity to Work
Many students use the summer months to work and raise money for the coming semester. If you take a full load of classes during the summer, and those classes are more academically intense because of their shortened nature, you may not have as much time as you need to work. If you need the income from a summer job to pay for your tuition in the fall semester, and you have a good job opportunity available, consider carefully if adding the demands of summer school is wise. That said, online courses and programs can give you the flexibility to work a job while attending summer school, so options exist that can help you do both.
Pro: Less Risk of “Summer Slide”
All students, from elementary school through grad school, who take a significant chunk of time off of their studies are at risk for what educators call the “summer slide.” This happens when they lose valuable learning or study skills over the summer break. When you take summer school, your brain stays engaged with your learning and this risk lessens.
Con: Your Teachers May Not Be the Same
During summer school, courses are often taught by adjunct professors, not the full-time faculty you spend time with during the school year. These teachers are usually qualified for their position, but they may not have the teaching experience of full-time instructors. This could impact the quality of your summer education.
So, what’s the bottom line? Summer college classes can be a great way to get some of your courses out of the way, graduate early, and enjoy a less intense fall and spring schedule, but they can get in the way of rest and jobs. In the end, each student will need to weigh these pros and cons and consider their overall goals for education before deciding to take summer classes. University of the Cumberlands offers flexible online courses and on-campus courses that can help you achieve your education goals.