Your Complete Guide to Taking Classes Over the Summer

Your Complete Guide to Taking Classes Over the Summer

8 minute read

Summer classes can offer a unique opportunity to enhance your college experience in just a few weeks. Even if your school doesn’t provide the same course catalog as during the regular semesters, chances are you’ll find plenty of options that can help you. Summer classes allow you to catch up on missing credits, save money, and explore subjects that may not be offered during the fall or spring semesters. Are summer classes right for you? Is taking summer classes worth it, and how can you make the most of them? Let’s find out!

What Are Summer College Classes?

Many colleges and universities offer classes during the summer. Unlike regular semesters, summer classes are often shorter – usually 2-10 weeks long – and more concentrated.  Not all colleges offer the same course catalog in the summer that they do during the school year. If you’re considering taking a college class over the summer, check your school’s website for information. And if you can’t find the course you want, consider taking a course at another school or investigate online summer classes for college credit through providers like StraighterLine.

Should I Take Summer Classes in College?

At StraighterLine, we absolutely recommend taking summer classes in college! We’ll list our favorite reasons below, but the short answer is that you’ll spend your summer doing something that can only benefit your college career. Summer classes are a great time to catch up on missing credits, save money, and take classes you might not otherwise be able to during the fall or spring semesters. For high school students, summer college classes can give you a head start on college life and your degree.

Why Take Summer Classes in College

It’s worth taking summer classes in college because of all you’ll gain – and save!

Save Money in the Long Term

Check your school’s tuition page. Summer classes are often (but not always) much more affordable than their fall and spring counterparts. Taking courses over the summer can also save you tuition by graduating early. You don’t even have to take summer classes at the school where you’re enrolled. Other colleges and universities – including your local community college – most likely offer summer classes at affordable rates. Just make sure you can transfer those credits to your school.  One caveat: not all scholarships or financial aid packages cover summer classes. Check your individual eligibility requirements to determine whether your financial aid will pay for your classes over the summer. Online classes are also a great way to save money while earning college credits over the summer.  For example, a student who decides to take two classes with StraighterLine over the course of two months will pay a total of $356 (two months of our monthly subscription fee at $99, plus two courses at a typical cost of $79) for six transferable credits.  That’s about half a semester of credits at a traditional college or university! Plus, that $356 includes eTextbooks, exam proctoring, and on-demand tutoring, and it’s still less than the average course at one in-state, four-year public university, which is typically around $448.

Earn Credits to Graduate Early

Taking summer classes in college could help you earn the credits you need to graduate early – by a semester or more. Get a head start on your post-college career!  Make sure you talk with your advisor about this plan. They can help you figure out which classes will be credit-eligible, especially if you take online classes or classes with another school.

Check Off General Education Requirements

Get a head start on your requirements for the following year, or just get those gen ed classes out of the way with a quicker, more affordable summer course. This way, you can spend your longer fall and spring semesters taking classes for your major, minor, or personal interests. Online classes are especially great for knocking out those gen ed requirements quickly, affordably, and at your own pace over the summer.

Take Courses Not Offered at Your School

You can try another school if yours doesn't offer the general education class you need over the summer or want to try something new. As always, check the credit transfer policies so that your class will count toward graduation or other credit requirements for your degree program.

Enjoy Smaller Class Sizes

With fewer students on campus, your summer classes should be smaller. That means more one-on-one time with the professor, deeper dialogues with classmates, and a place to sit at the library. If you commute to school, chances are you’ll find better parking. Smaller class sizes make it easier for you to focus on learning. If you choose to take your summer classes online, you also enjoy the convenience of being able to take them anywhere, any time, and at your own pace.

Boost Your GPA

Summer classes can be your opportunity to improve your academic performance and boost your grade point average (GPA). If you didn't get the grade you wanted in a particular class during the fall or spring, the summer session may be your chance to retake that course and replace your previous grade with a better one. This can help raise your overall GPA.  It's important to note that colleges may calculate multiple GPAs, or have different policies about how they calculate them, so learn your school’s policies, especially if you earn your new grade at another institution.

How to Make the Most of Taking Summer Classes

Ready to enroll in summer college classes? We have advice for making the most of your summer courses to optimize your college success!

Consider Your Schedule

While summer classes are a fantastic way to get ahead in college, they also involve time and work, just like regular semesters. Summer classes may work at an accelerated pace, requiring more time and focus. Try to avoid overbooking yourself. When planning your summer class schedule, keep the following in mind:

  • Any summer jobs or internships you may have commitments to, and what those time commitments will be
  • Whether you will be able to commute to in-person classes or should consider an online-only schedule
  • Any previously planned vacations with your family or friends
  • The availability of classes you want or need to take

Choose Your Courses Carefully

If you’re going to spend your summer in a classroom, make sure you choose a class that counts. That might be a gen ed or major requirement. And if you’re taking classes not offered at your school, triple-check that the credits will transfer and count toward your graduation requirements. StraighterLine has many online options that can help you fulfill common gen ed requirements affordably and at your own pace. Here are a few courses we offer that may help you save money and graduate sooner:

  • Cultural Anthropology: this course provides a solid introduction for students new to the branch of cultural anthropology. Students are presented with all the basic information pertinent to the field.
  • United States History I: this course focuses on the characteristics of societies existing in the Americas 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.
  • Medical Terminology: this course introduces elements of medical terminology, such as the etymology of words used to describe the human body. Students learn to apply proper terminology and spelling for major pathological conditions.
  • Intro to Philosophy: this course is a critical introduction to philosophical inquiry. After defining philosophy and identifying the major fields of philosophical study, the course examines the history of Western thought, from the famous Greek philosophers to the cutting-edge intellectuals of today. The course concludes with an analysis of different perspectives, including Eastern philosophies and post-colonial thought.

Consider Online Course Options

Online classes are a perfect way to earn college credits quickly, affordably, and from the comfort of your home or local coffee shop, or even while traveling. If you’re considering online classes, make sure you check the following before enrolling:

  • Are the classes synchronous (you must attend at a specified time and are usually taught live) or asynchronous (the courses are self-paced and can be taken on your own time)?
  • What is the cost?
  • How many credits will you earn?
  • Can you take the classes you’re interested in?
  • Will your school accept the credits you earn?

Take Your Summer Back with StraighterLine

StraighterLine offers many advantages to students who want or need to take summer college courses. In addition to a wide variety of for-credit classes to choose from, we provide comprehensive student support that includes:

  • Free eTextbooks
  • Online tutors
  • Proctored final exams
  • Enrollment counselors

Our classes are affordable and asynchronous so that you can take them at any time and at your own pace. Spend more time doing the things you enjoy over the summer! With StraighterLine, we guarantee credit transfers to over 150 of our partner schools and over 2,000 more through the ACE Credit Transfer Program Contact us today through our live chat function to learn more about how we can help you get ahead in your college career!

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