Summer classes serve several purposes

(Illustration by Sylvia Freeman | Staff Illustrator)

After final exams week for the spring term ends, most students feel they will get along fine without looking at a syllabus or opening another textbook until August. Many start preparing for internships, jobs or, for the lucky ones, endless hours of sleep.

Taking more classes isn’t always the first option for people deciding what to do with their summer. But while it’s understandable that some students would want take some time off from the academic routine for a few months, continuing your education during break can actually pay off in surprising ways.

For some students, summer classes can be a saving grace if they didn’t do as well as they hoped in previous semesters. Those courses also cater to people looking to progress faster in their majors — plus, they offer more individualized, varied learning experiences. Summertime studies offer people the ability to enroll in different writing-intensive courses to finally fulfill a gen ed or retake one of the requirements for their major so that they’re back on the same level as their peers in the fall.

Enrolling in summer sessions can also help if you took a while deciding your major, or figured out later in your college career that your major really wasn’t for you and you needed to switch. Taking classes in the summer allows you to get introductory courses and prerequisites out of the way. It can help you catch up to your peers who’ve studied nursing or Spanish since their first year of college.

Even if you’ve managed to avoid suffering grades or are already firmly on the path to a degree, summer classes are still a good opportunity if you’re looking to have more room in your schedule for other goals. Taking summer classes can allow you to fit in another minor or certificate, or indulge in more advanced courses. Or, if you’re not interested in tacking on extra work during the academic year, summer courses can also help you get ahead of your peers and graduate a semester or two early.

Summer courses also tend to be more individualized because professors are only dealing with a third or a fourth of the typical amount of students they teach. Since fewer students opt to enroll during summer sessions, class sizes are massively reduced and you’re more likely to get extra help if you need it.

This can be especially beneficial for students who still need to fulfill gen eds or take introductory level classes, which often accommodate upward of 300 students during the fall and spring. And anyone retaking courses will be familiar with the content in a more intimate class setting, increasing their odds of success.

While it’s true that the time frame for summer classes may be daunting — with four-, six- and 12-week sessions in classes offered in addition to the full-term option, which lasts all 14 weeks of summer — this variety comes with perks. Students don’t necessarily have to take juggle classes at once with all these offerings. They can take two or three courses at different times in different increments. Taking a couple classes in a few weeks can be painless compared to juggling five different topics in one term. Students can also find more room with this setup to complete an internship, make money or just relax.

And for students who strive under routines and consistency, summer classes allow them start the fall term still used to taking notes, writing essays and sitting through lectures.  While relaxation and self-care are necessary, spending a few hours in a classroom setting ultimately keeps students engaged and reinforces study habits that need to be kept up in the following year.

Enrolling in summer sessions easily fulfills students’ needs in a variety of ways. They are crucial to helping students achieve scholastic success and work toward new goals, and provide a great learning experience for students who thrive in more focused, individualized environments.

Unfortunately, it’s too late to enroll in the first summer sessions Pitt offers, but several are still open, including some four- and six-week sessions beginning in June and July. Consider it an option if you have a good amount of free time this summer — and by the way, no one will judge if you don’t end up taking any 8 a.m. lectures in the first place.

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