Why College Students Should Take Summer Classes

Male college student standing in a backyard with a spatula in his hand at a barbeque flipping hamburgers.

When you think about summer, I want you to consider how you can fit in one or two additional classes, not about sleeping in and hanging out with friends. I want you to use the extended break efficiently. Academically, summer classes are one of the best moves a student can make. If planned right, a student can complete an entire semester’s worth of classes over summer school.

Taking summer classes was how I was able to graduate a semester early with my bachelor’s degree. Graduating early saved me a lot of time and money and I was able to enter the workforce quickly. I was able to get a jump on my career and financial independence.

When Do Summer Classes Start

Summer session comes right after the spring semester. Spring semester starts in January and ends in May. Typically, summer classes start in June and last through July. Though some summer classes can start at the very end of May and some classes can end at the beginning of August.

Lighten Your Load

If you have a particularly challenging semester coming up, summer classes are the key to reducing your load during fall and spring terms. If you have difficulty keeping up with your coursework during the regular year, removing a single class from your schedule can create the breathing room that you need to not stress out, to keep your GPA up, and stay on track to graduate.

Taking Summer Classes Can Help You Graduate Sooner

Completing even 1 or 2 courses during summer sessions will give you extra credits and help you graduate college a semester sooner. Over the course of earning my bachelor’s degree, I took two summer sessions, one at community college and one at university, for a total of 12 credits. That’s how I graduated early.

Most summer sessions are a first 6-week session, a second 6-week session, or a full 12-week session. I utilized the 6-week sessions to get ahead. After I transferred from my community college, I earned my BS in Business Entrepreneurship in 3 semesters. Therefore, I had only one summer to fit in additional classes.

I chose to take Data Analysis for Managers on campus and Operations Management on campus during the first 6-week session. I took these courses because they were prerequisites for a capstone class that I needed for graduation. For the second 6-week session I took La Raza Studies (I needed this class to fulfill a general education diversity requirement) online. The first 2 classes started at the beginning of summer in May and ended in July. My La Raza Studies class started immediately after. Taking the classes, broken up into two different sessions, wasn’t very stressful as I didn’t have to take all 3 classes at the exact same time. The classes were 3 credits each, I completed 9 credits in less than three months.

One Summer School Class Can Make All The Difference

Summer courses can also keep you on track to graduate on time. A friend, who was a student at a state college, contacted me for advice on how to graduate on time. She changed majors and was unable to graduate in 4 years because a math class was now needed to take additional classes above it. To try and adhere to her academic plan, I requested all classes taken, as well as what was required for the new major. Indeed, there was a math class that was a prerequisite and prevented additional classes to be taken. The math class was not offered during the summer session at her university. She was stuck and unable to register for classes that she would need in the fall.

I checked local community colleges for options. I found one 100 miles away which offered the math class online. My friend quickly registered as a new student and then added the class. Upon completion of the course, she transferred the class to her university. That one summer math class was what kept her on her academic path to graduate in 4 years.


Summer classes are flexible and can fit almost everyone’s schedule. If you want to work, do an internship, or enjoy a family vacation, you can take classes in person or online either synchronous—live instruction, or asynchronous—prerecorded video lessons and assignments done at your own pace.

A group of karate students wearing white gis and colored belts lined up down a tree lined road doing high kicks.

As I mentioned above, it’s not necessary to take classes only at your college. If you find one at another university or community college that fits your schedule don’t hesitate to take it. Just be sure the class will transfer.

Summer Classes Can Keep You Motivated

Taking summer school courses might not sound like a good way to stay motivated, but I assure you it is. Over summer break many students lose the motivation to return to college. Summer is when most students drop out of college, never returning in the fall. When you take a summer class you keep the momentum going, you create consistency which leads to success. You also don’t break the habit of studying.

How Students Can Create The Motivation For Success will give you the motivation to take a summer school course.

Save Money

Summer session courses typically cost less than if you were to take them during the fall and spring semesters. Community colleges, which usually offer more summer classes, have lower tuition fees so they cost even less. When you factor in graduating a semester early you can save thousands of dollars.

Complete Harder Courses

The summer session is a good time to take more difficult courses. Having a single class allows a student to focus on one subject more intensely as their study time is not split between many topics. For example, if you need to take a hard math class it may be easier during the summer as you will have fewer distractions. You’ll be able to concentrate all your attention exclusively on the coursework. If you have failed a class, it is particularly helpful to retake the class for a better grade during the summer as you can spend more time on concepts you struggle with.

Many classes are impacted. An impacted course is a class where the demand exceeds the number of seats available. Many high-demand classes are typically Gen Ed requirements. If you find a specific course hard to get into, the summer session may provide a great opportunity as there are fewer students trying to add it.

Take Prerequisites Classes During Summer School

A prerequisite course is a course requirement that you must complete prior to enrolling in a more advanced course within the same subject. Like pesky little bugs, prerequisites can invade, disrupt, and annoy your academic schedule. If not properly planned, they can wreak havoc on your graduating timeline. Summer school is a good way to get prerequisites out of the way so a student can take more advanced classes during fall and spring. Again, refer to the story above about my friend who almost had a prerequisite derail graduation. It’s best to get prerequisites out of the way as soon as possible.

Get Back On Track

Summer school is an effective way to get back on track if you’ve failed a class, missed a prerequisite, changed your major, or simply couldn’t get into an impacted course. When a student veers from their academic plan by missing or failing a class it can have a snowball effect, throwing subsequent semesters off and delaying graduation. Picking up a class during the summer may be all that you need to catch up and get back on track.