Should You Take A College Winter Session Class?

Student bundled up in coats walking across a snow covered college campus during winter session

I know after a long and exhausting semester the last thing you want to do is disrupt your beautiful holiday break by squeezing in a super short and very intense class. However, I want you to think about cozying up to your computer or joining a few fellow classmates to earn additional credits. Taking a class in Winter Session is very wise and efficient. It can keep you academically on track, boost your GPA or get you ahead.

The Winter session is a very short session that’s offered between the Fall and Spring semesters, during winter break. Depending on the school, it can have a different name, Winter Session, Winter Intersession, Wintermester, or January Term. The Winter session typically starts in late December or early January and runs for 3 to 4 weeks. Winter courses are intense and fast-paced due to their short session.


Winter classes are flexible and can fit into almost everyone’s schedules. Students can take classes in person or online either synchronous—live instruction, or asynchronous—prerecorded video lessons and assignments done at your own pace. The flexibility, as well as the swift pace, may be the perfect convenience for a busy student. Or a student who wants to get a class out of the way quickly.

General Education During Winter Session

Winter sessions generally have smaller course offerings due to time constraints. Fortunately, what they do offer are usually General Education (Gen Ed) classes. Gen Ed classes are considered essential, all students are required to take them. This requirement makes it hard to get into the classes because everyone needs them. If you find a specific course difficult to get into, the Winter session may provide a great opportunity as there are fewer students to compete with.

Personally, I utilized a Winter session when I was earning my associate degree, from Butte College. I was having a difficult time getting into a Public Speaking class. I needed the class to fulfill Area A, Oral Communication, of my Gen Ed requirements. Taking the class during winter break was actually a lot of fun and the perfect way to complete my requirement. It was accelerated, we met 5 days a week, 4 hours a day, for 15 days.

Your College Sensei's Butte Community College Grade Report with winter session class highlighted in yellow.

The professor was incredible. Not only did she balance the time and course content well, but she was also very receptive to students and the anxiety that comes with speaking in public. Many students had taken the class during the Winter session simply because they were very nervous. They thought the smaller class size and getting it done more quickly would be the only way they would get through the class and pass. Our professor not only recognized this anxiousness she also recognized that we were choosing to spend our holiday break taking a college course. She was very proud of us for being there.


A prerequisite course is a required course that must be completed prior to enrolling in a more advanced course within the same subject. Prerequisites can be a nightmare and ruin your academic schedule if not properly planned. The Winter session is a good way to get a prerequisite class out of the way so a more advanced class can be taken during the Spring or Fall. I always recommend getting prerequisites out of the way as soon as possible.

Use Winter Session To Catch Up

For students who were unable to fit a class in during the regular semester or those who have missing credits, taking a class over the winter break is a good way to catch up and earn credits. A single class may be all that you need to meet a requirement for Gen Ed or to get into your program of study.

If you have failed a class repeating it during the Winter session may be beneficial because of the accelerated schedule. A student can focus on a single course more intensely as their study time is not split between many subjects. Chances are, even though you didn’t pass, you learned something in the class. It’s wise to retake the class while the information is still fresh. It’s also beneficial mentally to get it done and over with.

Graduate Sooner

One of the biggest benefits of enrolling in a Winter session is graduating faster by earning credits in just a few short weeks. When you pair Winter sessions with Summer sessions, they can boost the number of credits a student earns very quickly. This puts you on the fast track to graduating sooner.

Save Money

Winter sessions typically cost less than if you were taking them during the Fall and Spring semester. Community colleges, which usually offer more Winter classes have lower tuition fees, so it costs even less. When you factor in graduating a semester early you can save thousands of dollars and reduce your financial stress.

As I mentioned in the Summer session, 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.