Summer can be a much-needed time to relax and recharge. At the same time, the summer months can be highly productive for college students and working professionals alike.
Summer is a great time to earn some extra credits, learn a new skill or update an existing one, or simply expand your knowledge on a subject that fascinates you.
Here are our top ten reasons why you might want to think about taking a college class this summer.
1. Advance your career with upskilling
Just because you’ve left school and started your career, doesn’t mean you should leave learning behind you. Mastering new skills can keep your career moving forward in the right direction.
Do you find yourself frequently making presentations? Improve your presentation skills with a public speaking course. Does your current position require a lot of writing? An expository writing course can give you new tools to make your written communication as powerful as possible. Perhaps you’d like to expand your responsibilities by learning about social media marketing or digital production.
Whatever your industry, taking summer courses that target specific knowledge or skills can give your career a boost.
2. Keep your skills current
Technologies and methodologies in every industry evolve over time. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to keep your skills fresh when you are bogged down with day-to-day responsibilities.
You may want to learn what’s new in the world of artificial intelligence or information management technologies. You may need to learn new data modeling techniques, update your leadership skills, or discover new project management methodologies.
Whether as part of a longer term degree or certificate program or a targeted course to update a specific skill, use your time this summer to keep your knowledge up-to-date.
3. Speak a new language
Learning a new language is an amazing way to broaden your horizons and gain new perspectives on the world.
You may have studied Spanish in high school or continued your French lessons into college. Even if you’ve never studied a language at all, it’s never too late to start.
Many colleges and universities offer introductory language courses over the summer. And while it may be tempting to try one of those “teach yourself …” programs, taking formal classes from a qualified instructor significantly increases your chances of truly becoming proficient.
4. Learn for learning’s sake
Regardless of where you are in your life, learning for learning’s sake can be fun.
Maybe you’ve always been curious about human evolution or the architecture of Boston, for instance. Perhaps your goal is to read and discuss Shakespeare’s plays. Perhaps you’re intrigued by improvisational acting.
Whatever your interest, there’s probably a college course, whether online or in person, that covers it. There’s no better time than summer to try something new just for fun.
5. Complete a prerequisite or core class
It’s easy to cling to the idea of a summer vacation during the college years. But taking classes over the summer has some significant benefits for current college or graduate students.
Uninspired by a required class outside of your major? Why not get it over quickly so you can move on to the classes you are really excited to take!
Summer can also be a perfect time to get some prerequisites out of the way. Taking a prerequisite over the summer can ensure that you’re qualified for a key class as soon as the fall semester gets underway.
6. Graduate early
If graduating early is your goal, taking college classes for credit over the summer is a great way to achieve that goal. There’s no good reason why you need to stick to the traditional—old-fashioned even—idea that you can only work toward your degree during “the school year.”
And graduating early might save you money as well.
However, if you plan on taking summer classes at a different institution than the one you’ll graduate from, be sure to check with your school in advance to make sure they’ll accept credits from your summer school course.
7. Prepare for graduate school
Summer offers the ideal opportunity to prepare for graduate school.
If you’re thinking about whether grad school is for you, taking a class over the summer allows you to explore potential areas of study. You’ll get a preview of what graduate-level classes entail. You may also begin building degree-specific skills, such as reading in a second language, that you might not have time for during the school year.
You can even prepare to take required entrance exams such as the LSAT or GRE. For example, Harvard Summer School offers a summer class designed specifically to get your math skills ready for the GMAT and GRE.
8. Earn additional credentials
Earning additional credits over the summer has another benefit as well: building credits for an additional credential that will look great on your resume.
Taking classes over the summer might enable you to graduate with a double major, for example, without extending your time in college. Or, you could earn a supplemental undergraduate or graduate certificate alongside your degree.
Whatever your unique goals, summer is a great time to stack up on credits to enhance your final degree and launch your career in the right direction.
9. Concentrate on a difficult subject
Regardless of what you study and why, choosing to do so during the summer offers a few additional benefits.
For instance, summer is a great time to tackle that really difficult class that you’ve been worried about.
With only one class to work on, you can dive into that topic and give it your full attention. You don’t have to worry about mastering material on a different topic. You don’t have to worry about splitting your study time across from multiple classes.
By concentrating all your effort on one topic, you may increase your chances of completing that tough course successfully.
10. Take advantage of small class sizes
Most summer classes have lower enrollment than the same class during the regular semester. Some even have limited enrollment to ensure a small class size.
Small class sizes offer some tremendous advantages.
In a small summer class, classroom discussions will be more intimate. Everyone in the class will have the chance to ask in-depth questions, get involved in the coursework, and participate in classroom debates.
You’ll also have more opportunities to get to know both your instructors and your peers. Your instructors will have the chance to get to know you. And you’ll have the opportunity to get more individualized attention and support if you need it.
Of course, this is hardly a comprehensive list of all the benefits of taking a college course this summer. But whether you are in pursuit of a concrete goal or simply enjoy learning, use your time wisely this summer to build some new skills and gain fresh perspectives.