Reviewed by Julie Vandekreke
Savvy college students know that now is always the best time to make summer plans - no matter when your "now" is. If your plans include taking college classes, you may be asking: what are the best online summer classes to take, and where should you take them?
Excellent question, as not all summer classes are created equal. To know which online courses you should enroll in this summer, it's important to review your goals with your financial resources, summer schedule, and your overall degree plan.
Fortunately, we've created this checklist to help you make smart decisions. College experts agree the best online summer college classes to enroll will will:
1. Earn College Credit
When you invest your time and money into online summer classes, you need to be confident those courses will transfer into your degree program.
Take the time now, before summer begins, to verify with your college advisor that the courses you plan on taking will be accepted for credit.
Tip: If you are making your summer online course plans through StraighterLine, your approved courses are guaranteed to transfer to schools in our network of over 150 accredited colleges. StraighterLine has course equivalency agreements with each partner college, so you can be confident that the general education credits you earn will transfer into your degree.
2. Be ACE CREDIT Recommended
If you aren't working with a StraighterLine partner college, verify your courses are ACE CREDIT recommended. If they are, it’s extremely likely you will be able to earn credit for your courses. Over 2,000 colleges and universities accept ACE CREDIT recommended courses for credit, including courses you complete online.
Tip: You can easily verify if your school accepts ACE CREDIT recommended classes by speaking with your student advisor or registrar, who will also be able to guide you through the course transfer process.
3. Fit Into Your Degree Program
The online classes you plan on taking this summer should be considered an extension of your existing degree plan. Don’t limit the types of classes you take over the summer. If you need to focus on core degree requirements or electives, know which courses you need to spend your time on. Otherwise, explore the full range of general education courses and maximize your learning (and tuition savings) opportunities.
Tip: Summer can be an excellent time to take those courses that might benefit from single-minded focus, such as chemistry, calculus, physiology, biology, or any other science, math, or time-intensive course you need for your degree.
4. Have Open Enrollment
Open enrollment means there are no prerequisites ore requirements to register for classes. The best online classes for summer should allow you to enroll at any time in order to accommodate your schedule, not the other way around. After all, having anywhere, anytime access to your college courses is one of the major benefits of taking classes online.
Tip: The best self-paced online courses should be available on demand. If this is not the case, you should consider the reasons why not, and most likely those reasons will affect cost. If it's an institutional issue, the program may be bogged down by other inefficiencies, including overhead costs, which will inevitably be passed on to you.
5. Provide Excellent Student Support
Every class you take this summer should have dedicated support to help you succeed academically and make sure your classes are the right fit for your degree goals. The best online course providers won’t sacrifice support just because you are taking classes in the summer.
Tip: Online student support is often provided in a number of different ways:
- Student Advisor – Professionals who can help you navigate enrollment or technical issues, create degree plans, and provide a roadmap for course transfer.
- Online Tutors – Individuals who assist you when you need specific course help.
- Enrollment Counselors – Professionals who can help you walk through the program enrollment process and answer any financial related questions you may have.
6. Be Affordable
The best online course providers should provide a pathway to help you significantly reduce your overall cost of college. After all, a true online college course provider won’t have the same overhead that a campus-based college does.
Tip: The best online college course providers will pass on the course savings to you in the form of extremely low cost courses and enrollment fees.
7. Cover All Academic Areas
If you are like most students, you probably will need to complete courses in multiple subject areas over the summer. The best online college course providers will give you the opportunity to earn credit in a number of subject areas including Business, English, Health Science, Humanities, Mathematics, Science, Languages, Technology, and Social Science.
Tip: StraighterLine currently offers over 60 low-cost, for-credit online courses.
8. Give You Your Summer Back
Taking advantage of the flexibility of online college courses can help you take back your summer schedule. Whether you are a working adult, shuttling your kids around to summer activities, planning for a remote learning fall, or have to work around your work schedule – the best online college courses will give you what you need to succeed and empower you to affordably earn your college degree.