When you think of summer, you typically think of vacation, hot sunny days, and hours upon hours of relaxation. You might even be thinking about a study abroad trip in Asia or an internship at a major corporation. What don’t you think of? Taking classes. It’s an option that is always available but not many of us take. For some people, it’s necessary. For others, it’s just a guaranteed way to ruin the three months of freedom you have planned out. As one of the (relatively) few students taking classes in the summer, I’ve noticed that there are both advantages and disadvantages to hanging out on campus when everyone is gone. For people who are contemplating whether or not to take summer classes in the future, here are a few things you should keep in mind.
1. Unless you are taking a full course load, financial aid may be sparse. This may not apply to everyone, but because I am not taking the minimum 12 hours required for a full-time student, I pretty much have to pay out of pocket for the whole semester.
2. Taking a Maymester will save you money! This is because if you qualify for a Maymester credit, you get the amount of the class taken off your balance. This means that you can save $1,000+ from your tuition just for taking an extra class (which is great if you were going to take classes anyway).
3. There aren’t many activities going on during the summer. This may be common sense, but if you’re hanging around don’t expect as many events as during the normal school year.
4. The lack of students make studying, working out, and ordering food a lot easier. No more waiting in line for coffee. No more walking around for half an hour in the library looking for a seat.
5. Classes are more individualized. The lack of students allows professors to adopt a more hands-on approach, rather than having teaching assistants take over some of the material. The good thing is that teachers are now more readily available. The bad thing is that you can’t visit TAs on your own time.
6. Speaking of TAs, if you have an on-campus job it will likely become much easier in the summer. You may not work as many hours, but the hours you do work will be less stressful.
7. Even if you tell yourself you won’t be overwhelmed taking the usual amount of classes, chances are you will be. The atmosphere around campus is definitely different than during the school year. It’s more laid-back, and pretty soon the lack of motivation will catch you like the senioritis plague.
8. Summer is a good time for introspection. The more individualized classes offer more room for discussion, as opposed to constant lecture. You will find yourself participating more than normal.
9. Finally, taking classes in the summer is best for freshmen and soon-to-be-graduating seniors. This is because freshmen are not yet looking for internships and so do not have to forgo other opportunities. Seniors that take classes in the summer can maybe graduate ahead of schedule, thus saving some money. If there are no other opportunities lined up, summer classes are a great way to stay ahead of (or on) schedule. Just make sure that if you have other (better) options, do not make taking classes your first priority.