Thinking of taking summer classes? Check out these pros and cons before filling up your summer schedule.

summer classesAhhh, March. It comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. You can celebrate the birthday of famed author Dr. Seuss, beware the Ides of March (only if you are Julius Caesar, though), discover your Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day, relish in the first official day of spring, and (depending on your university) enjoy some much needed down time during spring break. But college students also need to start thinking about whether to enroll in summer courses — and you need to decide if you want to fill up your summer schedule or kick back and relax. Before you register (or throw your registration packet in the recycle bin), check out a few pros and cons to help you determine if taking summer classes is right for you.

5 reasons to enroll…

Taking summer courses can greatly benefit your college career, help you graduate early (or on time) and give you an opportunity to increase your GPA. Besides these obvious reasons, however, there are five major positives of summer courses:

  1. Shorter classes — usually summer courses only last for a month at a time.
  2. Fewer students — not only will classes be smaller but there will be less students competing for spots in those general education courses.
  3. Routine — according to Education Portal‘s article by Laura Allan, “The Pros and Cons of Taking Summer Classes,” if you stay in school over the summer, “you’ll already be fully in the swing of things by the time you get back to school.”
  4. Less distractions — fewer friends on campus means that you will be able to focus more on your studies.
  5. Time off — even if you take summer classes, you won’t be in school for the entire break. So, not only will you get a few of your least favorite classes out of the way, you’ll still get a few weeks of downtime.

5 reasons to take a break from academia…

Summer courses are a perfect fit for some and a bad choice for others. If you find yourself daydreaming about beach vacations, sleeping until noon and making some cash during the summer, consider opting to forgo your registration until fall. Here are a few other reasons to skip your university’s summer term:

  1. Fewer course options — many colleges offer a smaller list of classes in the summer and the more popular ones can fill up quickly.
  2. Classes drag on — in order to stuff a semester’s worth of information into a month, some courses can run multiple hours a day, leaving you with only a few hours to relax or work.
  3. Strict attendance policies — according to‘s article, “Summer College Classes,” most professors aren’t forgiving when it comes to students missing class. “Because of the nature of class, most summer classes do not allow you to miss a class because you would be missing 3-4 hours worth of class (or about a week or more of classes during a regular semester).”
  4. Fast-paced instruction — since there is a limited amount of time to cover a large amount of material, most instructors will quickly move from one subject to the next. If you are a student that tends to get hung up on certain concepts — say, in Calculus, for instance — consider waiting for a full semester or opt for an easier class.
  5. You are stuck at school — you won’t have time to catch up with friends from back home or indulge in your mom’s cooking and laundry skills. Instead, you will spend the summer (possibly) alone with only your studies to keep you company.

A tough decision

If you are still on the fence about whether to enroll, consider your answers to the following questions:

  • Do you absolutely need that break or would you benefit from a few extra hours of class time?
  • Do you need to hold a steady job this summer in order to pay for your room and board next year or would you benefit from graduating early and having fewer student loans to pay back?
  • Do you have a place to stay on campus for the summer or will you need to sign a new lease?

An article written by Jessie on May 22, 2012, for, “Pros and cons of summer classes: Are they right for you?,” offers some sound advice: “Keep in mind that summer school isn’t for everyone. It takes dedication to take three semesters in a row. If you decide to take the plunge, make sure you have the time and the willingness to complete these courses.”

For more articles on higher education or to check out some research tools, visit Questia‘s topic page on higher and adult education.

Will you be taking summer courses this year? Tell us why or why not in the comments below!

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