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Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Case FOR Summer Courses

Is taking a summer course a good idea? In most cases, yes.  Even though you’d like to take a break, and yes, a very well deserved break, taking a summer course (or 2) is a good idea.  Here is why.

- A summer course or two will let you catch up on dropped or failed courses, or let you get ahead

If you are behind in your program, summer courses are fantastic opportunities to catch up.  You may not be able to take the specific course you are lacking, but taking another course in your program is also useful because it ‘frees up’ a spot for a class in your upcoming year.  So if you failed History of China 101 and it’s not available as a summer course, taking a geography class you will need this coming semester will give you the schedule space to take History of China 101.  Alternatively, if you are missing an elective, you can get it ‘out of the way’ in the summer a course that is offered; it may not be your first choice for elective, but if you do not have a strong preference, pick a course that is offered and complete it.

If you are not behind at all, but have found taking a full load hectic (and it is), taking a summer course will give you a lighter load in the upcoming year.  Taking two courses during the summer will give you a lighter load for both semesters.

- Summer courses let you concentrate on one course at a time

Some courses are harder than others.  A summer course lets you concentrate on one course at a time, even if you are working during the summer.  A job is very different than taking a course in terms of mental worry.  If you are taking a summer course, you can concentrate on the one topic, one set of assignments, one grade.  The advantage of NOT juggling many assignments and deadlines can be the difference between an ok grade and a grade you are happy with.  I find that a humanities course is a course I can think about while doing menial tasks (mow the lawn, do the dishes) and that thinking time gives me a chance to mentally prepare to write an essay for an assignment – basically, I did part of my assignments while working on something else and then sat down to do the writing part of it.  I could not do that at all with science classes; most of them required sitting down with problems and equations, not thinking time. 

- A summer course may let you graduate early

If you take two courses every summer (assuming three in-between year summers), you’ll have a total of 6 courses completed before your last year.  If all of these are courses requested for your program, this could mean graduating in January instead of May – a semester earlier than everyone in your program!  Even though the tuition saved is almost inexistent (you’ll have to pay for the summer courses), graduating early means that you can start working full-time a semester early, move back home (for a few months) to save on rent, and get a head start on job-hunting (you get ahead of the competition by being available to be hired a few months before everyone else).

Summer courses are not fun; you’d probably rather work during the day and party with friends at night.  However, unless you are working two full-time jobs (one during the day and an evening/weekend one), there is time to take a course, work, AND party a couple of nights a week. 

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