Are you thinking about taking summer courses? With online course options becoming more prevalent, it’s worth exploring your options.
Enrolling in summer classes comes with a host of benefits, including helping you reach your academic goals faster. However, adding that extra load comes with some drawbacks, too (after all, it doesn’t sound that appealing to skip out on a vacation in order to complete your coursework).
Online summer courses compensate for some of the usual drawbacks of summer school, as they provide more flexibility than on-campus courses. There are, however, still some elements you may want to consider before booking up your summer months with academic endeavors (and those factors go beyond the issue of having to lug your laptop to the beach). To help you choose the best option for you, the experts on the CSU Online student success team helped break down the benefits and challenges of taking summer courses online.
First, the benefits:
While a traditional semester runs for about four months, summer semesters are in a shorter window. According to Marti Demarest, manager of academic support at Colorado State University Online, the summer term at CSU is 12 weeks long, and online classes are offered in four, eight, and 12-week blocks. A shorter term means you can get through a class more quickly than you would be able to otherwise.
Furthermore, if you choose to take only one summer course, opposed to taking multiple courses in a regular semester, you can give it all of your attention. Demarest said CSU’s online students indicate they especially like the flexibility of the four-week summer courses because, as one expressed, “I can take one class at a time and put all of my efforts toward that class. I have to be mindful of the course material to ensure that I can meet the deadlines.” Another said: “I like the flexibility of the summer schedule. I can take classes and still have time for family needs and vacation. I am not bound to a 16-week schedule.”
You are already in the swing of school, so transitioning into summer courses could be a breeze. Summer rot will not happen to your brain, and you avoid a long gap in your learning. You might be less likely to forget material over a short break than you might be during the traditional summer vacation.
Fewer students will be competing for spots in classes, so your chance of getting into popular courses is higher. Furthermore, a smaller group of students can allow for more engaging forum discussions that involve the whole class. Establishing an academic relationship with the professor is also significantly easier when you are not competing with so many other students. You could receive more individualized attention and quicker response to your questions and emails.
Summer school is a productive use of your time. Taking one class can lighten the next semester’s course load or remove some concerns about graduating on time. Furthermore, summer classes might give you the opportunity to graduate early, if doing so is on your radar. You have the option of completing prerequisite classes during the summer so that you can register for more advanced classes in the fall for continuity in your degree program. On the other hand, if you failed a class during the regular year, retaking it during summer helps keep you on track so you still graduate on time.
Exploring a certain subject over the summer may help you decide on a specific path or specialty area you want to pursue as you continue in a degree program. During the school year, you probably focus on remaining on an intended path. The summer allows for some freedom in class choice. You can branch outside of your comfort zone and explore the multitude of classes. Commonly, summer courses can help you complete the requirements of a supplemental minor or certificate. You can also add the extra coursework to your resume.
And now, the challenges:
Although you might have a short break between the spring, summer and fall semester, the time off is limited. You will need to recharge your batteries in just a few weeks, or less. Adding a summer class to your repertoire can make the school year seem as if it never ends. Brains need breathers, too.
However, Demarest did say that many students elect to take at least one course during the summer to keep on track. While this might decrease vacation and family time, she said online students are typically used to balancing work, family, life, and school so the transition would theoretically not be so dramatic. As CSU offers online classes in four-week terms, the commitment might not be difficult to navigate.
Fewer course options
The courses that you need or want for your major may not be available over the summer due to staffing or scheduling issues. During the regular school year, professors usually teach more than one class. However, during the summer, they usually only have time to facilitate one. Institutions have to prioritize which classes should be taught in a given summer semester, and some are left out of the mix.
College is expensive as it is, so it may not sound very appealing to pay extra tuition during the summer. On the other hand, taking summer courses may get you ahead faster in your degree program, meaning you could eliminate an extra semester’s worth of tuition somewhere down the road.
Should you decide to incur the costs, you can ease the burden by applying for financial aid. According to Demarest, CSU undergraduate students only need to take six credit hours to be eligible for financial aid in the summer.
Is summer education a good idea for you?
Check out Colorado State University’s summer course schedule here. Even if you are not earning your degree from Colorado State University, you can still take courses online through CSU this summer. Click here for more information.
Registration begins March 24.
12-week term: May 18 – Aug. 7
First four-week term: May 18 – June 12
Second four-week term: June 15 – July 10
Eight-week term: June 15 – Aug. 7
Third four-week term: July 13 – Aug. 7