As summer is coming to an end, I thought I would talk about my experience taking summer college classes.
Personally, I decided to start college in the summer instead of in the fall because I have already taken a gap year ‘break’ from school. I wouldn’t have taken summer classes if I were coming to college straight after school; I like to spend my summers doing something different, or enhancing my skills in a non-academic context.
However, I love the experience that I gained from this academic summer session, and if you are considering doing it too, here’s a list of pros and cons for you to consider: (Note that this is solely based on my experience!)
benefits of taking summer college classes
You can move ahead in your major or explore other courses that may be too filled up during the year.
This is particularly so if you’re in a large school and have to ‘fight’ for courses during the academic year. The population at my university is huge, so enrollment for classes is always very stressful. For summer, however, I was able to enroll in the classes that I wanted without worrying about not getting in.
If you’re an out-of-state student attending a public school, summer classes tuition will be ‘cheaper’ for you, as you’ll pay the same as someone who is in-state.
I am an out-of-country student, so tuition is definitely more expensive for me during the academic year. But my summer fees are the same as that of an in-state student, so it’s a ‘win’ for me.
There are not as many distractions.
During the summer, most extracurricular activities are on a pause, so you’ll be able to focus better on your academics. You’ll be able to start exploring campus before all the chaos of the academic year kicks in – and that’s a pretty cool and different way to transition into college.
disadvantages of taking summer college classes
Summers should be spent doing something different.
Even if you’re not doing something to build up your resume, e.g. volunteering or interning, you can still use this time to work on yourself. Time is valuable, but so are you.
I feel that the hardest aspect of college is not studying – everyone can buckle down and study (or cram) if they are under pressure. The difficult thing is in understanding why you take the classes that you do, what you can do with your education, and what your priorities are. You can only do this if you actually take time off the system and think about it.
So, go out, explore, and discover.
It’s harder to get an internship and/or work on other side projects.
If you are hoping to get an internship at the career that you’re intending to follow, or hoping to work on any other projects, summer classes might ruin this for you. At least half of your time will be spent attending classes and studying/working for them – which is not too much, but you will be left with less energy to work on other things.
Classes are very fast-paced.
There’s only 2 months (or less) to learn all the material that you would normally learn in a semester or quarter system. This means that you have to be ready to condense a lot of knowledge and information in half the time. This should be doable as you’ll be taking no more than half the classes that you would during an academic year, e.g. a normal semester workload is 4 classes; for the summer, it’s 2 classes.
You won’t be able to move around or travel too much.
If you’re hoping to travel or go on adventures, your possibilities will be limited if you’re physically taking classes at some college. However, this won’t be that big of a deal if you’re not from the area, or if you prioritize your academics over travel.
alternatives to taking summer college classes
Spend the summer abroad.
If you do this through your college, it can allow you to do two things at once: intern/take classes and explore the new country. It’s a perfect combination, and it’s a great and enriching way to spend your summer.
Take online classes.
Though online classes are not as much fun, it will give you more flexibility to manage your routine and accomplish other things, including traveling and working/living somewhere else. I would recommend this for a class that you are not looking forward to, as you’ll be able to get it out of the way quickly in the summer.
If you attend a 4-year college, you can take 1-2 classes at a nearby community college.
If there are classes that you need to satisfy, you don’t necessarily need to do so at your (expensive) college – you could check out which community colleges can satisfy these requirements for you. The perks of this are cheaper tuition and cheaper classes. However, you will also need to find housing near the college, which may be a nuisance if you don’t know the area really well.
Personally, I am really happy with my decision to start college in the summer. Because orientation doesn’t start until fall, I had to explore my college campus by myself (or with friends), which helped me become more college-independent. As an international student, I also love having used this time to get used to the new environment, explore the area, and plan for my upcoming semester with the campus at my reach.