How to Take Advantage of Summer Courses in College

8 Tips to Use Summer Classes to Your Advantage

With the warm summer sun right on the horizon, many of us are ready to take a well-deserved break from school. Whether you're planning a vacation, prepping for an internship, securing your summer work schedule, or just sleeping straight up until the fall semester, take a step back and consider fitting just a few classes into your plans for the next couple of months. Summer school may have a bad reputation from our elementary school days, but taking advantage of summer courses in college can be one of the smartest choices in your academic (and potentially, professional) career. Here are some tips and reasons why you should consider taking classes in the summer.

1. Get ahead

Advancing quickly in your college career was mentioned earlier, but it's important to stress how beneficial it can really be. It is especially useful for students that plan on continuing on to pursue higher-level degrees. Spending less time in college means spending less money, and having more time to enjoy your career. This, similarly, applies to those who plan on taking entrance exams such as the MCAT or LSAT the following year. Decreasing the amount of time you spend doing classwork during the school year increases the amount of free time you have to plan and prepare for these exams. It also gives you more time to work on applications. For seniors who plan on seeking jobs upon graduation, this can help make more room for spring interviews and job fairs. And for all of us, the less time you spend in college, the less you have to pay for. If you are paying any amount of your educational expenses out of pocket, summer classes are a great way to lessen your financial burdens by thousands of dollars.

2. Take prerequisites

Prerequisites are the gatekeepers of your academic career. Make sure they don't trip you up by going through your list of required classes, and signing up for the ones that are offered in the summer. This is a great way to stay on track to graduate, or even get ahead.

3. Retake classes

This seems like a no-brainer, but it's more important than you may think. If you find yourself in a position where you did not pass a class, putting off retaking the class until the next semester can delay graduation, which can end up costing you thousands of dollars in the long run. Since you're already familiar with the course, you have the advantage of being able to call material back from your memory instead of trying to ingest it all from scratch. Use your past notes and mistakes to help you improve the second go-around. Plus, summer classes are usually smaller, so you might be able to get more help from your professor to make things click this time around.

4. Take easier classes

Even though summer sessions are significantly shorter than a regular semester, you're trying to learn the same course material in a fraction of the time. That means that taking on extremely challenging, labor-intensive, and high-level courses is probably not the best idea. At best, you memorize enough to get a decent grade, but don't retain the material long-term. At worst, you set yourself up for failure and your GPA takes a hit. Avoid this trade-off by signing up for low-level or general education classes. This also frees up time for you to focus on your more difficult classes during the fall or spring term.


5. Take classes that are worth fewer credits

This is another way to lessen the scarcity of your time during the regular school year. Getting one or two-credit classes out of the way during the summer will help free up space for you to dedicate to other classes and studying during the normal school year.

6. Take that elective you just could never fit into your schedule

If there's a particular class that just doesn't fit in your schedule, but you still feel would be beneficial, or a class that just piques your interest but doesn't make sense practically, consider taking it over the summer. Without all the stress and distractions during the school year, you'll be able to dedicate yourself to learning something new and enjoying it.

7. Not staying near campus during the summer?

Look for other universities (with transferable credits!) This definitely takes some planning in advance. But for those who are going home or traveling for a job opportunity, look into the programs offered at colleges near where you'll be staying. Then speak with a faculty member at your school to see if the credits are transferable. If they are, this is a great way to ensure that you don't sacrifice your summer plans for a few extra credits.

8. Are you worried about managing summer jobs with summer classes?

Take online college courses or work part-time hours. This tip is good for busy students who are okay with multitasking. Many colleges have a credit limit for semesters and summer sessions. Try signing up for half the limit or less if you want or need to keep working through the summer, you'll thank yourself for the smaller course load. This also is a perfect compromise for students that live far away from campus.

While college is definitely a time to be cherished, you should always be seeking ways to maximize your experience. Whether that's just taking more classes for the sake of learning, or strategically planning to meet personal and professional goals, make sure that you're always workin

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