Summer School: Not for Dummies Anymore Part 3

Summer School vs. Summer Vacation

There are many advantages to taking classes during summer. It is easy for a college student to fall out of his or her study habits over the summer. For high school students, who find that they have forgotten what they learned the previous year, it can be very demoralizing. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, emphasizes this point and has urged an increase in summer program participation by both students and parents to discourage learning loss.12

However, attending traditional summer school does get in the way of normal summer activities. To do so, one must be at a particular place, at a particular time, on a particular schedule. Taking summer courses online, however, allows students the best of both worlds. Online learning can be scheduled in such a way as to allow for a summer job, family trips, or even vacationing abroad: schedules are flexible and distance is not an obstacle.

It should also be noted that an exclusively online school is more likely to have a much wider variety of courses available during the summer than a traditional school that is just starting up an online program of its own. It does require initiative to make one’s own schedule and stick to it, but for those who have the discipline the rewards can be considerable. A student can take courses from more than one online source. Theoretically, a student could sign up for an online college chemistry course at Colorado State University Global Campus, an online biology course at University of Phoenix, and an ACE recommended online calculus course from StraighterLine all in the same summer and transfer the credits, as applicable, when fall semester rolls around.

How do college students who have attended summer school compare with those who have not? Does year-round study wear a student down and cause him or her ultimately to burn out? Is it true that, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?” The answer is no. A University of North Carolina study demonstrates clearly that those who took summer classes not only graduated earlier, but also showed a significant increase in graduation rate.13

12 Arne Duncan on Summer Learning, U.S. Dept. of Education,, Jun. 2009, Video

13 Scott Jenkins, Keith J. Brown, Xiaoyun Yang, Summer School Enrollment and Time-to-Degree, Institutional Research and Analysis, University of North Carolina-General Administration, Association for Institutional Research Forum, Jun. 2007, p.1, 5

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