Tips on Summer Classes in College

Summer college classes have several benefits. Colleges that operate on a normal 2 semester schedule typically have summer classes available.

(Note: this article does not apply to colleges and universities that operate on a trimester schedule)

Summer classes allow students to take classes during the summer months when colleges and universities are typically in their “offseason”. Summer college classes have their positives and negatives, students can complete classes

Summer classes allow you to:

  • Improve your GPA (especially for students with a low amount of credits)
  • Take a class that is hard to get into during the regular semester
  • Take a required class that will allow you get a semester ahead
  • Re-take a class you received a bad grade in (or failed)
  • Accumulate extra credits during the year and decrease your time to graduation

Scheduling Summer Classes

Due to the limited amount of summer classes, scheduling is very important. If you are unable to get into a class you need, try to contact the professor directly or stop by their office (as soon as possible) and explain your situation, they may be able to add you in.

Summer Classes Schedule

College summer classes are typically short (about a month long) and run several hours per class. This is due to the fact they must try to get the equivalent of a semesters worth of class time in approx. a one month time period. Colleges and universities seem to handle summer classes differently and because of the length of summer classes (typically about a month) and may have one or more summer sessions to schedule summer classes.

Summer Classes Attendance Policy

Because of the nature of class, most summer classes do not allow you to miss a class because you would be missing 3-4 hours worth of class (or about a week or more of classes during a regular semester). Make sure you do NOT plan any events during the time you take your summer class(es) because you may need time to study, write papers, etc.

Most schools allow students to schedule 2 summer classes during one summer session. Be careful scheduling 2 hard summer classes during the same summer session because it may consume all of your free time, and get extremely difficult. If you must schedule 2 classes, try to schedule classes that are similar and may share concepts to make it easy to stay in the same mindset.

Remember: you will not be able to take 2 courses at the same time if one is required for the other (example: take accounting 201 and 301 during the same summer session) so make sure you plan ahead.

Summer Classes Difficulty

For the most part summer classes tend to be a bit easier than the equivalent class during the regular semester (assuming the professor is the same). With the time restrictions some professors have difficulty covering all of the subject matter that would be covered in during a standard semester class, which means less information for students to retain.

Professors of Summer Classes

Professors are the most important factor in summer classes. A tough professor will most likely keep you the full time period every day, may be very boring (and make it very difficult to pay attention for long periods of time), work you hard throughout the class and be very critical on grading. Easier (or more lax) professors may dismiss class early, grade on a curve, make learning interesting and the time go by more quickly.

Ask your friends and classmates if they have had a professor during the regular year and what they are like. Also check websites like for what others have said about a professor before scheduling.

If you can get the class you need with a great professor you are ahead of the game. If the only class available is with a professor you know is terrible, consider not taking that summer class at all, and consider taking another class during the summer (waiting a semester is better than getting a bad grade).

Cost of Summer Classes

Summer classes are usually a bit more expensive than the cost of one of your classes during a typical semester. Talk to someone in your schools financial aid office to see if you can get loans or some type of financial aid.

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