The Dos and Do Nots of Taking Summer College Courses as a College Student

The Dos and Do Nots of Taking Summer College Courses as a College Student
Beth Dumbauld

Reviewed by Josianne Campbell

This summer, invest in yourself by taking online college classes to earn college credit. By taking your summer college courses online, you can learn anywhere, anytime – and at your own pace.

Here are the essential do’s and don’ts of taking summer college courses when you're still in college but would like to complete a course online.

DO - Consider Online Summer College Courses

Consider the flexibility and convenience that online summer courses offer a busy college student. Even if your summer plans include a job, you can still keep a full work schedule and take classes online.

Online courses give you the freedom to take courses immediately and study any time of the day or night. By taking online courses this summer, you can start whenever you want and complete your required college courses at your own pace – allowing you to fit your summer academic goals within the confines of your work, family or social calendar.

DON'T - Assume You're Too Busy to Complete Courses Over Break

Taking an extra course over summer allows you to spread out your time commitments during the summer and during school year. Online college courses allow you to hunker down and move through material when you have time, and back off when you don’t.

Tip: After finishing one course, consider starting another right away.  By taking one course at at time over the entire summer, you may be surprised by how many college courses you have successfully completed and how many college credits you have managed to earn at an ultra affordable price.

DO - Complete General Education Courses & Prerequisites

Complete required general education courses or prerequisites for your major by taking online classes -- or get a head start on next year's courses to give yourself a more balanced course load. With the online revolution in education, there’s no reason to pay name brand prices for generic courses when store brands will suffice.

Check out this list of courses that StraighterLine students often complete in a month or less, ideal for summer break!

  • ANTH101: Cultural Anthropology
    This course provides a fantastic introduction to cultural anthropology. This course is commonly taken for humanities and/or social science general education credits.
  • USHIST101: United States History I
    This course focuses on the US prior to 1861. Students learn about European exploration and colonization of the New World and examine the impact on Europe, Africa, and the young United States.
  • MEDTERM101: Medical Terminology
    A popular course for students planning to pursue a nursing or other health science degree, this course introduces elements of medical terminology, including the etymology of terms.
  • REL101: Introduction to Religion
    This is a popular course for students who needs a humanities credit and provides students with a comprehensive overview of cultural religious phenomena in a global world, including commonalities and differences among religious traditions and contexts.
  • PHIL101: Introduction to Philosophy
    This course is a critical introduction to the field of philosophical inquiry. It examines the history of Western thought, from the famous Greek philosophers up to cutting-edge intellectuals of today.

If you do have more time to dedicate for your studies, English courses are among the most important college courses you can take, and will help set the stage for college success:

  • ENG101: English Composition I
    This course provides an excellent in-depth approach to various writing genres, and enables students to write a selection of essays including a comprehensive research paper.
  • BUS105: Business Communication
    A very popular course, BUS105 helps students learn how to write in a professional tone for a cross section of business-style documents, extremely practical for your academic and professional career

And math, because if you are considering any healthcare or STEM related field, you are going to have to complete math prerequisites -- and often there is a minimum math requirement to earn ANY type of college degree.

  • College Algebra 
    A required course or prerequisite for most STEM majors, enrolling in this math course  over the summer when there is less pressure can really allow you to overcome a fear of math and succeed on your terms.

DON'T - Forget to Verify Credit Transfer

Make sure you verify with your academic advisor if your school will accept the college courses you want to take for full academic credit. While many colleges and universities do accept ACE Credit recommended courses for transfer, not all of  do.

Tip: It’s your job to verify that your school will accept ACE Credit recommended courses for transfer – and get it in writing to avoid any hassles later on. High quality online college course providers will have Student Advisors who can help guide you through this process.

DO - Take Advantage of Alternative College Credit Providers

Take advantage of the low cost structure of online college course providers. These days, you can start taking college courses online for as little as $99 per month through StraighterLine and earn fully transferrable college credit.

Tip: The more ultra affordable courses you take online (replacing more expensive alternatives), the more you can save on your degree.

DON'T - Confuse the Quality of Learning Outcomes with Price

You can take college courses for credit online that are equal to or above the required standards at on-campus colleges and universities – and save thousands towards your degree - even more when you factor in the average annual cost of tuition, room, and board is $20,900 at a public institution and $45,370 at private ones, according to recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Tip: Many accredited colleges and universities, in fact, have transfer agreements with online college course providers, community colleges, and international schools that are based exclusively on learning outcomes. These degree programs are part of the competency-based education movement.

DO - Take Courses Not Available at Your School

By enrolling in college courses online this summer, you can complete courses you were prevented from taking at your current college due to over-subscription issues or because you couldn't fit the course into your life because of scheduling or financial concerns.  And if you aren't sure about what it will be like to take a course online outside of your school, be sure to try a free trial, a low risk way to see if an online course is for you.

DON'T - Delay Your Graduation Goals

Don't delay your graduation date just because you don’t have access to a required course or had to withdraw. Consider this: self-paced online classes don’t fill up and don’t have quotas.

Tip: With online college courses, you can quickly and affordably take the courses you need this summer, transfer the credits back to your college or university, get back on track to earn your diploma on time – and avoid a mountain of student debt.

Wondering what the best courses to fit in over the summer are? Be sure to check out this list of  recommended summer courses! There are some excellent suggestions on the list.

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