I love summer classes, and no, I’m not crazy. Sure, it’s true that playing outside, swimming, going to the movies, and of course, no school, are all the harbingers of summer that we looked forward to as kids. That break is great when you’re growing up, but luckily it’s not a necessity for adults. Yes, luckily, college gives us the opportunity and encourages us to take advantage of this extra time in the year.
Most of my college summers involved taking classes either in an in-person, hybrid, or online setting, and I don’t regret it for a second. In fact, there are a couple of reasons why I love and recommend summer classes for every college student.
The Immediate Picture: Flexing Your Brain
College classes are more demanding than high school. Regardless of age, everyone needs a break and time to recharge. However with all of the other responsibilities we grown-ups have, it can be hard to get back into our good study habits after three months.
I don’t know about you, but that first day of the fall semester always felt like I was dusting cobwebs off of my brain if I didn’t take any summer classes. Actually carving out time for school is one thing, but being mentally ready is a whole other task. Your brain is like a muscle, and taking summer classes allows you to keep your critical thinking, writing, analytical, and other academically necessary skills flexed.
The Big Picture: Spending Less Time in Class
It may sound counter-intuitive, but taking summer classes actually means spending less time in class overall. This does require a bit of planning ahead, since not all classes are offered all year round and you don’t want to take summer classes for the sake of taking summer classes. While a class like “The Philosophy of Harry Potter” may sound fun, unless it fulfills some requirement for your degree, don’t take it during the summer.
Ideal Summer Classes
In my opinion, the best types of courses to take during the summer are your core classes in either a hybrid or online format. An online class allows you to take your studies outside so that you can still enjoy the great weather (plenty of beaches and parks now have free wifi). Plus the “Intro to fill-in-the-blank” and the “101” classes are important, but not the reason anyone wants to go to college. Some schools will even let students take their core classes at community colleges over the summer, and transfer them back to the university once you’ve passed the course. This method saves you both time and money.
Summer semesters are usually shorter, lasting between 6-10 weeks rather than the fall and spring 12-15 week schedule. As a result, a curriculum designed for a spring or fall semester is now compressed into a semester half of the size. It may feel rushed, which is why if you’re going to take a unique class that peaks your interest like a Harry Potter, pop culture, underwater basket weaving, etc. class, take it during a fall or spring semester when you’ll have the time to explore the subject in-depth.
By taking classes during the summer, you’ll keep up those good study habits and can earn your degree faster. Talk with your advisor so that they can help you plan your schedule.