This article might not apply to students who attend colleges with a quarter or trimester system.
Due to the current economic recession, more and more college students are enrolling in summer classes. The lack of summer internships and jobs has pushed many students to choose accelerated summer/spring classes in an attempt to remain productive until the fall term begins. Summer classes at most colleges are around seven weeks, so one week in summer school is equal to two weeks in a regular semester. Class times are also longer – a 75 minute class will usually run around three hours in the summer. If you do decide to take Summer 1 or Summer 2 classes, here are a few tips on what to do and what to avoid:
DO: Consider you financial situation. Financial aid usually can't be stretched into the summer term for most students who have already used up their Pell Grants. Schools will usually offer less financial help during the summer. However, chances are that you can get a decent repayment plan during this term. Inquire with the financial aid office before registering for summer classes.
DO: Use summer classes as a way to stay on track towards you graduation date. There's always a class or two that is waitlisted constantly in the spring and fall terms; however, chances are it's being offered in the summer. Also, if you take two summer classes, you may not have to overload during the regular terms, and thus your schedule will be a little less hectic.
DO: Consider taking classes at a different college. If you attend a university, it might be a good idea to look at taking a community college course to get rid of those annoying required classes that everyone is stuck with. A few examples would be "Intro to Literature", humanities, or a first-year business class you neglected to take until your senior year. Community college classes are much cheaper than those at public and private universities. Before registering for a class at another college, check with your school about transfer equivalency.
AVOID: Taking too many summer classes at once. Speaking from personal experience, it can really kill your GPA if you take Microeconomics, Political Theory, and Chinese Civilization all in Summer 1. Most academic advisors at universities would suggest just one class per session. However, it depends on a few other factors, such as your obligations outside of school (work, etc.), your work ethic, and if/how you can budget your time.
AVOID: Slacking off and assuming summer classes are going to be easier for one reason or another. If anything, even classes which would be categorized as easy during the regular terms will be a handful during the summer. Procrastination in the fall term could earn you a B- or C, but in the summer term, you will be rewarded with failure. Most classes will have homework due every session, and if you fall behind, chances are very slim that you can catch up. Remember, you only have seven weeks to get through a large amount of work, and midterms in the summer term are usually the third week of class! It would be a great idea to invest in a good student planner and write down due dates.
AVOID: Skipping class. This is a bad habit even in regular terms, but especially in the summer, this can make the difference between passing and failing. It would be helpful to avoid planning to attend events that require you to travel or that would cause you to fall behind on your papers. If an emergency does come up, speak to your professor about it as soon as possible. It would be helpful to have a clear plan for your summer before the add/drop deadline passes.
Keep in mind that summer classes are a great way to re-take a class, remove that eyesore on your transcript that says "Incomplete", and even graduate a little earlier. However, don't forget to try to enjoy your summer also! Try to take one of the sessions off to relax and actually enjoy yourself with friends and family.