During spring finals, everyone has the same thought, “Almost done and then summer vacation! God, I need a vacation.” It’s pretty unlikely that you want to sign up for a summer class. If you aren’t required to take courses over the summer, why would you? The last thing you want is to continue allowing your brain to fry. And some colleges won’t take financial aid, if you have it, so why waste the money? On the other hand, certain colleges make it a requirement to take a few credits over the summer. In this case, I’ve seen most students sign up for three classes all at once to get them out of the way. It can feel aggravating to have a vacation stolen from you, but why not make the best of this situation? If the school makes it a requirement, pace yourself—take two classes maximum. If you aren’t being forced to register for a summer term, you should sign up anyway for at least one in your college-lifetime (a fairly easy one—I’m not saying to go take organic chemistry or biochemistry). It doesn’t even have to be the entire summer (if your college offers different sessions). Here are 10 reasons why taking a course during the summer is not as bad as you might imagine:
1) You are able to absorb more knowledge. If you’re a full-time student, you probably juggle four to six classes at a time. Your mind is scattered throughout different classes and struggling to remember formulas, dates, and facts. Summer is different. With one course, you can finally focus all your attention on the class at hand. Sometimes, we forget why we’re really in college; sure we want to socialize and have fun, but college is a way to further our education. Summer is a great time to step back and immerse yourself in the information without the insane stress.
2) Boost your GPA. As I said before, you focus much more on your summer class(es). If you aim for a relatively easy class, say a humanities requirement, chances are you can make that easy A. Even if you decide to take an upper-level class, the attention you can give the class is greater, so your grade should correlate to the amount of time you put into the class. Compared to fall and spring, when you have to divide study time amongst other courses, summer study time will be greater. (I’m not guaranteeing that you can make the A, but your chances will be higher, especially if you use the study time wisely.) Instead of struggling to get the C+ in biology, you instead end up with an A-; definitely a grade booster there!
3) Stay on track in academics. As great as the college life may seem, you can’t be a college student forever. Taking a summer course will help keep you on track and graduate in a timely manner. It happens to the best of us, but sometimes a class turns out to be more than you bargained for and it’s too late to drop or you think you can manage to pass. Come finals time and you realize, “Damn. I’m screwed.” Final grades come out and the verdict is in: you need to retake the class. Here is where the summer term advantage comes in. If that class is offered during the summer, retake it then, so you can stay on track. If it isn’t available, retake that class next year in place of a fall/spring class that can be taken in summer.
4) Spend more time getting to know your professor. If you take only one or two classes, it stands to reason that you have more time. Go see your professor or TA during their office hours! Don’t have anything you need from them? Go and make up a question. More one-on-one face time with your instructor will allow you to feel more comfortable around them. So, if you do have a serious question in the future, it won’t feel as intimidating when you go meet with them. This also gives the professor to get to know you a little more—can you say incredible college recommendation?!
5) Take advantage of your apartment lease. Not everyone lives on campus, so if you happen to live in a rented apartment or shared house, use it! Finding a trusted person to sublease (and not trash your place while you’re away) can be difficult. Posting ads on Craigslist and in Facebook class groups won’t always work. Sign up for the summer before you go through the trouble of searching for someone to sublease. When you find someone, drop the class before it costs money and the summer starts. However, if the ad falls through, then just stay for the class you enrolled in! If you don’t want to bother going through the trouble, decide early on to stay for the summer and make the most of the apartment you are paying for.
6) Invite family and friends to see you. Balancing school work and a social life (along with sleeping and eating) can be tough. You might find yourself too busy over fall/spring semester to go home or have friends and family over. Maybe you don’t want to have to hide all your partying from family, so you make sure to keep them away. You’ll find this is not as much of a problem over summer. A lot of people are gone, so you have more time to yourself. Even though you are still going to class and doing homework, I’m sure you can find the time to host family and out-of-town friends. Memorial Day and July 4th are perfect times for a visit. Let them spend a mini vacation with you (and let your parents pay for your meals for a long weekend!)
7) Develop healthier eating habits. Take-out and Ramen noodles are a college student’s best friend. These are mean, nasty friends. They bully you into the freshman fifteen. Get a new best friend over the summer. You have the time to go to the supermarket. Try new recipes and cook (with vegetables). Stop taking the easy way out with a McDonald’s drive-thru or an on-campus Chick-fil-A. Try using this time to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
8) Find activities that normally aren’t offered during fall/spring. Sure, your college always plans exciting events. Bookworms, like myself, tend to miss out on all the fun though. Either that or I forget to go because I’m swamped with work. As I’ve already mentioned, summer gives you a much more flexible schedule. There might not be the same extravagant concerts hosted, but summer has some hidden gems. With your newfound time, go discover what your college has to offer! I go to UF and I just found out that next week is Bug Week!—I minor in entomology, so this is something that I want to partake in. Go to your campus’ website and actually read the emails you are sent; you might find something that peaks your interest.
9) Use the college gym. You pay for it in tuition, why not use it? If you happen to be a gym enthusiast, going every day, good for you! (Seriously, that’s great!) But, for those who find themselves like me and my roommate, you find yourself busy with course work, socializing, extracurricular activities, or all of the above. We always tend to say, “I’ll just go tomorrow.” I’m sure you can see where this is going… tomorrow turns into the next day, then the next day turns into next week, and then next week turns into next month. It’s a sad, vicious cycle. If you end up taking a short summer session, you can actually go to the gym often. When you get home, you can proudly show off your toned body at the next pool party!
10) Experience a new campus atmosphere. Everyone always talks about having the ‘college experience’ and signing up for a summer term is one experience no one really mentions. If you happen to attend a large university, you’ll notice that the summer term turns into a ghost town. Most students pack up, heading home or leaving for a summer internship. It turns into a completely different atmosphere—like you go to another college. Say goodbye to long lunch-rush lines for campus dining! If you ever want to find out how smaller college campuses feel, stay for the summer. You never know, it might be a refreshing change of pace.
View all articles by Jason Olephant