Summer classes: Stay focused and get credits faster

Summer school“Summer school” sounds like a punishment. You’d rather get a job, party or just veg during your summer vacation. The benefits to taking summer courses make the off-peak grind worth it though, plus you can choose from lots of different options: study abroad, summer internships or online summer school all offer flexibility and convenience that may not be available to you during the fall or winter semesters. Learn why you should consider summer courses, discover what options you have, and find out how to study during the summer when what you’d rather be doing is lying on a beach somewhere.

Why take summer classes?

The University of California at Riverside’s Summer Sessions writes that summer classes are great for students who want to get ahead by taking prerequisites or intensive classes. They are also generally much smaller in class sizes, which means more opportunity for interaction with faculty and peers. Other great reasons to take summer courses:

  • Classes are identical in focus and content to those taught in the rest of the year and units are transferable to most four-year universities
  • UCR’s three to seven-week sessions help you get through the class in less time than the traditional 10-week quarter.

The University of Vermont’s “Reasons to Take Summer Classes” add a few more:

  • Finish in Four: Picking up a few credits each summer can help you graduate on time
  • Catch up, get ahead

More benefits of summer classes

  • Study with renowned faculty: Famous professors and people of note often make visits to colleges during the summer to teach specialized classes. This is a good opportunity to learn from experts in the field that you might not have a chance to see again. Some classes aren’t offered other times of the year, so take advantage of the exclusive opportunity and feel free to gloat when fall session starts up.
  • Meet students from other countries: College summer classes attract exchange students from other countries who want to learn in the United States. You can meet visiting students from around the world with whom you can share language, food and culture.
  • Mentor high school students: Because many classes are open to high school seniors, you can play big brother or big sister to incoming freshmen by offering guidance, extra help and a taste of what college life has to offer (academically, that is).

What types of classes are good for the summer term?

  • Find an internship: Internships are a great way to learn real-world applications of all that book learning in your chosen field. Depending on your field of study, internships are required and count toward credit. You may also want to check with an advisor to see if you are eligible to have an internship count as an elective. Paid or unpaid, you’ll gain a lot of valuable experience!
  • Online summer courses: Studying during the summer doesn’t just mean sitting in a classroom. Online learning programs are interactive, flexible and convenient while you’re working or traveling.
  • Studying abroad: Taking a summer class abroad is a fantastic way to see the world. According to “Study abroad programs” from Harvard University: “Study abroad exposes you to new ways of living and learning. You may find yourself navigating new cultural encounters and experiencing new foods, different customs, and unfamiliar domestic patterns—and doing all of this in a new language.”

But I don’t wanna study during summer!

Let’s face it; it takes a lot of concentration to keep studying when the sun’s out and your friends are calling you to party. But here are some tips to “Staying Focused During Summer School” posted by Zickbee on the Older Non-Trad Student blog.

  • Keep the goal in sight: Finish your education and get your degree.
  • Remember that there are at least 8-12 other people in the classroom with you. You’re all in this together.
  • Study outdoors: You’ll feel deprived if you spend the whole summer in the library.
  • Declare one room in your house a “study free zone” where no schoolbooks are allowed, but chillaxing is always welcome.

Summer term is a wonderful opportunity to focus on your studies and yourself. With the slower pace around campus but the quicker pace in class, you can really hone in on your goals. Less students are around to fight for faculty attention, and after class, you can take your time reading course material and even make it — egads! — enjoyable.


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