With the spring semester quickly drawing to a close, most college students are focused on studying for their final exams. After all, once finals week ends, there is nothing left to do but enjoy the summer.
However, certain college students choose to continue taking classes for all or part of the summer. In recent years, summer terms have become an increasingly popular academic option for students who are looking to remain productive even after the standard collegiate year concludes.
Summer courses usually cover the same amount of material discussed in a standard college semester, but in a shortened period of time. Most schools divide the summer into two sessions — one beginning at the end of May and ending in early July, and the other starting in early July and ending in mid-August. The typical summer class is approximately six weeks in length, but some schools offer shortened four-week sessions and/or extended eight- to ten-week sessions.
Besides going to class while most of your friends are headed to the beach, there are several other challenges associated with summer courses. With a typical semester’s class material squeezed into less than half the time, some students may have trouble keeping up. In addition, summer course offerings are more limited in selection than those offered during the standard fall and spring semesters.
Despite the challenges of taking summer college classes, there are also some advantages. If you find one or two summer courses you’d like to take, and think that you can handle their accelerated format, consider registering for the term. Here are three major benefits of doing so:
1. ABILITY TO CATCH UP OR MOVE AHEAD IN YOUR CURRICULUM
Before the summer term begins, review your school’s course offerings. Look for any classes that you still need to complete in order to fulfill your degree. If you’re currently behind in your program of study, taking summer courses is a great way to catch up. Most colleges predominantly offer high-demand classes during the summer – the same classes that you may have had to forego during the fall or spring semester because they were full.
Summer courses are a great idea even if you are on schedule to graduate. If you would like to work ahead or lighten your standard semester load, taking one or more summer college classes can help you do so. For instance, many prerequisite or general education courses are commonly offered during the summer term.
2. SMALLER CLASS SIZES
Summer courses are typically smaller in size than classes available during the traditional academic year. (This is due to lower summer enrollment numbers). Thus, one benefit of the summer term is its increased student-professor interaction.
With a smaller class size, your professor can give you more personal attention. This can be quite beneficial, especially if you initially find it difficult to adjust to the accelerated pace of a summer session course and require help. The more intimate learning environment may just help you excel, especially in more challenging classes.
3. FEWER DISTRACTIONS
During the summer term, you will likely be limited in the number of credits you can take. With a reduced course load, you will be able to focus more on the class or classes you’re enrolled in. This can be especially useful if you hope to ace a notoriously difficult course, like organic chemistry or calculus.
Erica Cirino is a contributing writer forVarsity Tutors, a technology platform for private academic tutoring and test prep designed to help students at all levels of education achieve academic excellence.
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