Summer Classes: Why You Should Take Them

Summer Classes: Why You Should Take Them

Student walking down sidewalk past the College of Education on the way to the Student Union building. Photo: Andy Heidt

As you recover from the stress of the past semester and dive into the craziness of vacation season, the last thing you probably want to consider is spending part of your summer taking another class. Summer classes aren’t just for distance learners and workaholics, though; every student can potentially gain from taking one or more over the course of their college journey. Read below for six of the best reasons to consider taking a summer class.

1. Receive more individualized instruction

La Vergne Lake Elementary teacher Stacia Mills receives hands-on training with a science-related project in advance of the total solar eclipse.

As Stacia Mills, left, listens, MTSU physics and astronomy instructor Irina Peravalova uses a yardstick and other objects to demonstrate the science of a total solar eclipse Aug. 4 during a scheduled session for Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City Schools teachers and staff in Wiser-Patten Science Hall. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

Although not all summer classes follow this rule of thumb, most of them tend to be smaller than their fall or spring counterparts, meaning that each student gets more of the professor’s attention. This individualized instruction can be great if you know you’re likely to have trouble with a particular subject. Since the classes tend to be long (four to five days a week for several hours each day), you can immerse yourself in the material without a lot of distractions, making it easier to master a tricky subject. On the flip side, if you’re passionate about the subject or a big fan of the professor, taking a summer class can be a great way to get a better experience from a class you’re looking forward to.

2. Graduate early (or stay “on-time”)

Want to save some time and money, and graduate a semester early? Using part of your summer to take a class or two can be a great way to get ahead on your credit hours. If you start early and do it for two or three summers, you can potentially rack up a semester’s worth of credit in between your regular school years. It’s also a good strategy if you’ve gotten behind on your graduation schedule by changing majors, taking a hit to your GPA, or taking too many electives. Taking summer classes can help get you back on track and graduate when you originally planned to.

3. Cross a class off your list

You know that one class you’ve been absolutely dreading? Whether it’s advanced physics or a freshman math class, why stretch it out over an entire semester when you can compress it into about 30 days? The beauty of taking a difficult or disliked class over the summer is that you just don’t have to deal with it for very long. Plus, as mentioned earlier, the smaller class size may mean that you can get more help from your professor. Be aware, though, that taking a class over a shorter time period will mean that you won’t be able to let yourself fall behind. Be prepared to go all-in.

4. Network with professors

David Urban, center, dean of the MTSU Jones College of Business, talks with students Lauren Moore, left, and Katherine Dye at the inaugural Rutherford ATHENA Leadership Forum held March 18 at the MT Center at MTSU. Hosted by Rutherford Cable and the Jones College, the forum connected select women students with Rutherford Cable professionals for networking and leadership training. (MTSU photo by J. Intintoli)

If you’ve got a favorite professor or two in your major and would like to get to know them better (and potentially spend time working or researching with them), taking a summer class can help you build those connections. Professors often have less on their plate during the summer, meaning that they can spend more time chatting in their office or giving you guidance in a particular area of study. They also tend to conduct more research projects during the summertime, so if you’re angling for an internship or research assistant position, this is the best time to make your move.

5. Schedule a class around summer jobs

But wait, you say, I’ve already lined up a job/internship/vacation for the summer and I don’t have time to commute to campus! Never fear: many classes offer online sections over the summer, allowing you to squeeze your classwork around the other activities you’ve planned. As with the regular summer classes, though, these online versions are going to be more intense than their fall and spring semester counterparts. Most will require you to check discussion boards every day, so don’t let yourself relax too much and fall behind.

6. Enjoy a quiet campus

MTSU student sitting at an outdoor table studying on campus. Photo: J. Intintoli

MTSU student studying on campus. Photo: J. Intintoli

The Library, dining areas, and even our beloved Starbucks tend to be less busy during the summer. While you may run into a tour group or summer camp here and there, campus is often quieter and less trafficked during the summer session. If you’re easily distracted while studying, this can be a huge benefit. Also, it’s likely that many of your friends and “study buddies” (we really mean Netflix–and–gossip buddies) will be off-campus, giving you a chance to focus on real studying for a change.