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Need to catch up on your course plan? Attempting to graduate early? Just interested in fitting some fun courses into your schedule? Taking summer courses might be for you. However, there are a few things to consider before registering for a summer semester...
Financial Aid and Cost
We all know that school can be expensive. Paying for another semester may not be ideal. That being said, I found summer courses to be much more affordable.
Just like the rest of the school year, tuition varies depending on residency and if you are a full-time or part-time student. As with the rest of the year, in-state students pay less than out of state students and part-time students pay less than full-time students. Part-time students usually pay per credit as full-time is given a flat tuition rate. This being said, you only become eligible for financial aid if you are attending school full-time.
Make sure you check your school's policies and cost.
During the summer, you will likely take less classes than any other semester. At my school, full-time starts at eight credits and the max amount of credits you can take is 12. This is a large difference from the rest of the year in which full-time starts at 14 and ends at 21.
The lower amount of credits are due to the fact that most summer courses only run for half of the summer. This means that lectures run longer, or more frequently, and you have more work to do in a short period of time. You will likely have more work to do outside of class in order to be prepared for exams or projects. These classes are designed to give you a break before the next semester.
Not every class is like this though. You will find classes that run the full summer. These will feel more like your standard classes and be less demanding for the most part. It is important to check the dates the course runs before registering.
There are many distractions during the summer season. You are probably used to having a long summer break, especially if you are finishing your first year in college. This is the lecture we have all heard before, "Use your time wisely and prioritize."
Although you may be tired of it, it is important to remember this motto when taking summer courses. It might be tempting to skip a class or hold off on that paper you really need to start. Just like any other semester, it is easy to fall behind—except, it will be even harder to catch up. Fast paced courses means that it is even more important to stay on top of your work.
Another option for summer courses is to take some online. My first summer during college, I only took online courses. These allow you to travel, visit home, or have a more flexible schedule while taking courses.
It is important to have a good computer that is capable of running videos and opening documents. Having a strong internet connection is also required. I recommend having your school email on your phone in case you get important messages from your instructors.
Online students get in-state tuition. However, there may be many fees. I discovered that it was cheaper for me to take my courses in-person rather than online.
Another expense you need to account for is proctors. Military members can get free proctoring through bases or education officers. Some public schools or libraries may also offer free services. Another option is an online proctoring service. ProctorU is a service accepted by many universities. A service like this offers their service by monitoring you through your computer camera. If this is something you think you might be interested in, please read my review on ProctorU.
In closing, there are many factors to consider in deciding to take summer courses. Weigh the cost verses the advantages it may grant you in the future. Make sure to look at how classes are structured. As I have stated multiple times, be sure to check your school's policies and prices. Every place is different.
I wish you the best in your studies and the future. Happy learning!