Should I Take Summer Classes in College? Yes! Here's Why

Posted on June 15, 2023

Posted on June 15, 2023

From kindergarten through senior year, we’re trained to look forward to the summer season for a much-needed break from learning.

For many college students, that last stretch in the spring and finishing finals means a long, relaxing summer break with plenty of sunny days, sleeping in late, and enjoying time with friends and family.

But for intrepid students, summer may be the ideal time to continue with the learning experience to gain new skills, knock out gen ed courses, and fast track graduation.

Wondering if you should take summer classes in college? Here’s why it may be the perfect option for you.

Complete Gen Ed Courses

Summer can be a time to decompress after a grueling year and prepare for the fall, but taking this time to knock out gen ed courses can put you further ahead in attaining your degree – saving you money in the process.

Virtually all degree programs include core courses that are designed for general knowledge. For many students, these courses are not the most interesting part of the learning experience. After all, you chose a major to focus on your specific interests.

Prerequisites are also part of earning a degree and act as a stepping stone to the more targeted courses you have to take for your program. Sometimes, prerequisites can affect your schedule and limit what courses you can take – and when.

Summer offers an opportunity to get these courses out of the way so that your schedule is focused more on the courses you’re excited to take. And if you take these courses with Sophia, it can also fast track your path to graduation. You can take courses in a convenient and cost-effective subscription format and transfer them to your preferred institution, helping you save money.

Graduate Early

If you want to graduate early and get your career underway, taking college courses for credit over the summer can help you achieve that goal. Instead of wasting those few months with a traditional school format, you can knuckle down and work outside of the school year to get your core courses completed for college credit.

Your institution may not offer summer classes, but you have the option to take classes at a different institution and transfer the credits. Just be sure to check that your school will accept the transfer credits for the courses you plan to take before you spend the time and money.

Get Individual Attention with Smaller Classes

As you may expect, summer classes typically have lower enrollment than the same class would during the traditional semester. In some cases, summer courses have limited enrollment to keep the classes small – and this is where you can gain the advantages.

With smaller class sizes, the discussions and learning experience are more intimate and engaging. You can get to know your instructors and classmates better and deepen your learning experience with individualized attention and support.

Focus on Difficult Subjects 

Whether you struggle with math, history bores you, or you struggle with another topic, taking a challenging subject while you’re balancing other courses can make a difficult task feel impossible.

In a summer session, however, you can focus entirely on those difficult classes without distractions or added pressure from splitting courses. You can really dive into the topic, get extra guidance from your professors, and work with your peers to not just get through the class, but excel at it.

Upskill Your Career

Whether you’re already working in your degree field, changing careers, or preparing to enter the workforce, there are plenty of skills that will be of value that you may not get in your degree program.

Do you struggle with business communication? Does public speaking scare you? Could you be a stronger writer? All of these skills are vital to virtually every field, and there’s no better time to upskill and make yourself a more valuable job candidate than during the summer sessions. You may even be able to use those credits as an elective toward your degree!

Keep Skills Sharp

Summer is a good time to relax and take a mental break from the demands of learning all year, but that could also mean losing that momentum that has kept you going. When fall comes back around, it may take a beat before you’re back into the groove of studying, doing coursework, and attending lectures – costing you part of your learning experience.

If you take summer courses, however, you can keep those learning skills sharp and fall right in step when the school year starts up again.

Are Summer Courses Right for Me?

Clearly, there are a lot of advantages to taking summer courses, whether you focus on gen ed courses, upskilling, or learning for the sake of learning.

Still, that doesn’t mean that summer courses are the right choice for everyone. While the unique aspects of summer courses may be advantages for some, they could be disadvantages for you.

For example, the more informal and relaxed nature of summer courses means you’ll need to be more organized and disciplined in your learning experience. If you have a summer job, it can be difficult to balance the demands of working with your coursework.

There are also fewer course options in the summer at many institutions, so you have to be strategic in choosing the right courses according to your goals. If you take courses at a different institution like Sophia, however, you have access to the same courses year round.

In some cases, financial aid may not cover your summer courses. Consider if you have to pay for those courses upfront and weigh the financial pros and cons to make sure it’s in your best interests to add summer courses to your schedule.

Finally, summer is the time to take a break from learning and enjoy yourself. Some students perform better when they maintain their momentum and study habits through the year, but others really need that downtime to recharge and stay motivated throughout the school year.

It can also be difficult to prioritize schoolwork if you have vacations, events with family or friends, outdoor hobbies, or other distractions. You have to be self-aware and determine whether taking summer courses is a good choice for your individual needs. 

Should I Take Summer Courses at My School or Another School?

There’s no clear answer to this question, as it depends on your circumstances. You may be able to get your preferred courses in summer programs at your own school, simplifying the transfer process. That said, you will need to consider housing, meals, and other expenses if you plan to stay on campus for the summer sessions.

If you choose to take courses at another school, such as an online school, it can give you the advantages of a new learning experience, more course options, and possibly, a more convenient schedule to balance your summer work or activities. That said, you need to check with your advisor to make sure that your credits will transfer and provide value to you in your current degree program.

Don’t Waste Your Summer Days

We get it – summer is for kicking back and relaxing. But if you want to get ahead in your courses – and one step closer to your degree – the summer can be the perfect time to complete your degree requirements, learn new skills, and gain some credits.

Thinking about making the most of your summer learning experience? Start a free trial at Sophia or explore our courses!

Category: Student Success

Subscribe to our blog

About once a month, we'll send you Sophia news, educational insights, and more. Only the good stuff - we promise.

*All fields are required.

Thanks for subscribing!

Start a free trial no credit card required!

Try a Sophia course for free. Your free trial work is applied toward course credit when you become a member.