It’s that time of the year again. Time to buckle down as the spring term enters its home stretch, time to tie up any loose ends from the academic year, and, for many students, time to consider enrolling for a class or two this upcoming summer.
But how do you know if it’s right for you? How do you make sure you won’t be studying come July, regretting your choice as you gaze out the window? The key is to weigh the pros and cons long before you even enroll so that you can foresee any problems and take into account all the benefits. Here are some of the biggest pros and cons facing students considering summer classes.
Getting ahead It’s no secret that summer classes are one of the best ways to make your graduation date come even sooner, but signing up for summer sessions can even quicken the pace at which you can take certain classes. For example, if you know that there are certain classes that require taking prerequisite classes, doing so in the summer can put you on a fast track to getting a seat in higher-level courses.
Keeping your routine One of the most underrated benefits of taking a class or two over the summer is avoiding A) falling into the trap of “summer melt” where you completely check out of the college mindset and B) having the kind of slow start in the fall that plagues so many students and causes them to fall behind right away. If you’re somebody who knows that a regular routine is key to your productivity, that could be enough reason to enroll.
A concentrated environment Any student who has ever taken a summer class will tell you that they’re nothing like the courses taught in fall, winter and spring. Summer classes tend to move quicker, spending less time beating around the bush and more time getting straight to the point. Accelerated classes, for example, pack all the lessons of a 16-week semester into eight or sometimes even four weeks, which could be a great way to get that General Ed class out of the way. Or, take that difficult class where you’d prefer a smaller class size and more one-on-one time with a professor.
Money For most students, the trickiest part of enrolling for summer classes ends up being the financial side of it. Depending on your school, for example, certain grants, loans, and waivers may not apply to the summer term, or for others using such financial aid for your summer term will mean you have to sacrifice it another time. To avoid the headache of summer session finances, make sure to talk to someone who knows about your school and state’s specific guidelines.
Summer jobs Summer is traditionally a time for students to pick up a summer job or an extra shift or two at their existing job so they can earn some extra cash. Don’t be fooled into thinking that summer classes will be easier and make the mistake of overloading your schedule. If you know that your summer job or internship is important to you, consider taking just one class or none at all.
Downtime Finally, summer is a time to enjoy being young, to take a vacation, to get organized, or to simply take in the longer days by spending them at the beach or in a park with a good book in hand. One of the most important things to consider in enrolling for summer classes is how well you’ll be able to manage your time, so that you can set aside at least two days a week to simply recharge your batteries before another academic year begins.
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