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To take or Not to take Summer Classes

Pros and Cons of Summer School

The decision to take summer classes is not always easy. There are a lot of factors to weigh before decided to spend your summer studying and working when you could be on vacation or chilling at home.



1.      Getting into classes that are full in the regular semester

Since enrollment in summer school is significantly less than during the regular school year, there can be spaces to spare in classes that normally have waiting lists out the yin-yang. And you can often get times you like, like 10 in the morning, rather than five in the evening.

2.      Smaller classes

It’s not at all uncommon to see classes that usually have 250 students being offered over the summer with only 25 students. Avoiding the monster classes at your mega-U is a real plus. You could actually be able to see and maybe even get to know your proffesor. Now, that’d be a first.

3.      The relaxed environment

Everyone tends to loosen up a little during the summer, even professors. Some might shed their tweed jackets or pencil skirts and show up in shorts. Whether these are fashion faux pas or not, what’s not to like about a more laid-back instructor?

4.      More intensive study of the subject

Summer school often runs for fewer than half the number of weeks of the regular semester, with classes meeting several hours every day. As a result, you get a rare chance to truly concentrate on the subject you’re studying, which is great if you’re really interested in the topic of the course.

5.      Take courses not normally offered in the Fall and Spring semester

Sometimes professors take the opportunity to teach courses during a summer session that they aren’t able to handle during the year because of other teaching obligations. Or sometimes there’s fresh blood in the instructor pool-for example, visiting professors from other schools – and these folks provide offerings not available during the year. These classes can be real finds.

6.      Completing a pre-requisite for a course you want to take in the fall

Summer can be a great time to knock off those pesky prerequisite so you can finally take a course you need for your major or are just really excited about.

7.     Take requirements that are normally difficult

Some students who have trouble managing the math, science, or foreign-language requirements find that it can help to take the course in summer school. That’s because students usually take only one or two courses in summer school and can have an easier time learning fractional exponents or mastering delta-epsilon proofs when they don’t have to get their mind around other subjects at the same time.




1.      It’s too intensive

Summer school classes are very compressed: They almost always meet an hour or two a day, five days a week. For some people, having class and homework every day as well as tests and papers due at more frequent intervals is just more than they can happily swallow.

2.      Irregular faculty

Many faculty members, especially the well-paid ones, don’t want to be bothered teaching summer school. So it’s quite possible that there are folks teaching summer school who aren’t on the regular staff – and might not be as qualified as the regular staff (think TAs, faculty from other schools in the city, unemployed academics).

3.      All the course material may not be completely covered

Yes, technically a summer school class is supposed to have the same stuff that the same class offered at another time covers, but many faculty find it difficult to actually accomplish this. Getting a semester’s worth of material into six weeks requires very careful planning, and it’s hard to plan right when it’s 100 degrees outside.

4.      Summer school costs extra

You’ve already paid thousands and thousands of dollars for fall and spring (and, at many schools, can take as many courses as you like then). So why pay extra?

5.      There’s a smaller selection of courses

Summer school classes tend to be weighted toward required courses that can net enough tuition-paying students to make them worthwhile to offer. Gotta love that capitalistic spirit.

6.      It’s too hot to learn

Who wants to be inside some un-air-conditioned classroom when it’s so hot and humid that the only sane place to be is the beach?

7.     Burnout

When taking summer school, you don’t get the proper break you need for rest and relaxation. After college when you start working more professionally, vacations and breaks aren’t guaranteed.


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