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Should I Take Summer Classes?

By Mary P. Ivy,
Staff Writer

Taking Summer classes can help you play catch-up or speed up your degree.

Summer school is becoming an essential part of the savvy and ambitious student's approach to earning a college degree. Once seen as somewhat unpleasant, summer school is a useful option for many students, whether they're pursuing a degree or seeking to update specific skills.

Graduate early or play catch-up

For those who want to finish degree requirements ahead of schedule, a few summer classes can help speed up the process. Summer school can put a student ahead by a semester or even a full year. Many students also find that the momentum of summer classes eases the transition back to school in the fall.

It is quite common for college students to change their major or pick up a second major in a related field. After all, college is about growing and changing. But academic changes often mean that students have to spend additional years, and extra money, getting an undergraduate degree. Summer school can help them catch up and avoid the proverbial "five-year plan."

Save money

Students may see substantial savings on tuition by taking summer courses.

Many universities, like The University of North Carolina Greensboro, offer a three-year degree program that includes summer school. Steve Gilliam reported in " New Three-Year Degree Initiative Offers Accelerated Path to Graduation " that students who finish in three years save "approximately $8,000." They must also meet other requirements, such as earning college credit during high school.

Taking summer courses online also helps save money by eliminating housing and commuting expenses.

Focus on difficult subjects

For many students, summer is the perfect time to focus on difficult or core classes. A summer math or science class gives students time and space to focus on those subjects without the added stress of other course work.

Reducing stress improves student performance. In " 10 Things You Can Do For Your Brain," the University of Missouri Kansas City Counseling Center explains that "stress hormones can interfere with thinking, learning, and memory."

Take related classes

Students often come across classes that seem interesting but are not part of their prescribed course work. Summer is a good time to pursue related subjects, or simply take a class or two for personal interest. This allows students to broaden their education and still complete required classes on time for graduation.

Benefit from a relaxed atmosphere

Summer school is often more relaxed. That doesn't mean it's less rigorous or valuable, but classes are usually smaller and shorter in duration, and instructors have more time. Students are likely to get more personal help and attention during summer school.

As students look for ways to finish a degree or update certification as quickly as possible, summer school classes are a valuable option.

Last edited: May 9, 2012, 5:31 pm EST
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