Braden: Save Time and Money with Summer Classes

By Paul Braden

With the stresses and struggles that come with talking a full-time schedule during spring semester, the break summer provides from coursework is an all too tempting three-month release that many students, understandably, take full advantage of. However, when considering the long-term sacrifices that a student can avoid if they continue on during this much-cherished break from the regular terms, registering for a few courses during summer semester might prove to be more beneficial than expected.

One of the greatest benefits of taking summer courses is the chance to graduate sooner. For most, the undergraduate program of their choosing takes about four years to complete, including all of the University of Utah’s general graduation requirements and major-specific courses. While some students can certainly benefit from stretching out their coursework over a four-year span through carefully enrolling in a mix of less grueling classes with some more challenging, major-specific coursework, others are eager to enter their respective career fields and engage in the work that initially inspired them to attend college in the first place.

The expenses involved in attending school should be considered when deciding whether or not a summer break devoid of course work is really the most responsible course of action. Students who choose to spend their summers in the sand, sipping Mai Tais or couch-locked in front of their Netflix menu screens should be advised that while they might not be sitting in a classroom, their student loan interest on certain types of loans continues to pile on more funds they will eventually have to pay back.

Summer semester also offers half and full-term schedules for students who may want either the first or second portion of the summer to take a small break, attend an internship or participate in a short-term research opportunity abroad. In many ways, this condensing of coursework over a much shorter period of time, found both in the full and half summer term courses, might be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, professors are required to move substantially faster with course materials. Deadlines are then more frequent and provide less preparation time in between. Falling behind can be catastrophic for GPA and retention, but discipline and perseverance for a much shorter time commitment compared to the regular terms can pay off in dividends for a committed student. Class sizes are considerably smaller during the summer terms and this offers a valuable opportunity for more face-to-face interaction with professors — which boosts confidence and understanding in the assigned material.

Next time you are prepping your summer getaway to Lake Powell in place of buckling down for either a full or half summer term, consider the benefits of taking summer courses at the U and saving time and money in the process.

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