Published February 21, 2023

As you consider summer plans like traveling, working, or relaxing with family, you might be wondering, “should I take summer classes in college?” It’s a good question—and a common one for undergraduates hoping to make the most of their college experience. While summer may mean a break from academics for some, many students find it’s an ideal time to complete required course work, explore new areas of interest, or connect with a new college community.

The good news is that taking summer classes doesn’t have to mean giving up your other plans: with online and flexible on-campus academic options, you can map out a rewarding summer that allows you to study when and where you want. At Johns Hopkins University, for example, you can choose from more than 80 online or onsite Summer Term courses for undergraduates, allowing you to choose the schedule and flexible format that works best for you.

Benefits of Taking Summer Classes

When deciding whether you should take summer classes in college, you should consider the potential benefits. Summer classes may allow you to:

Work, Travel, or Intern While Studying

While a five-week on-campus course certainly leaves you plenty of time to travel or work before the fall term starts, online courses are particularly well suited if you need maximum flexibility in terms of when and where you complete your course work. The asynchronous delivery of many online courses and the ability to log in from almost anywhere in the world will help you fit summer courses comfortably into your travel, work, or internship plans.

Complete Prerequisites, Free Up Your Schedule

If you need to complete a prerequisite course—think biology, precalculus, or even an entry-level foreign language class—completing it during the summer can allow you to jump into higher-level course work in the fall or spring. Taking a course or courses during the summer can also give you room to lighten your load later, freeing time in your fall or spring schedule so that you can pursue an internship, contribute to a research effort, or tackle tougher courses while juggling fewer commitments. Summer courses can even help you get an early jump on your college education. JHU’s Summer at Hopkins, for example, allows rising college freshmen—and some other qualified pre-college students—to enroll.

Focus on Fewer Courses

If you work best when focused on just one or two courses, you may find that the lighter summer course load allows you to do some of your best academic work. In addition, while the curriculum for summer classes is the same as it is for fall and spring classes, many students report that the flexibility of classes, laid-back atmosphere, and personalized instructor attention make it easier to succeed in summer classes.

Keep in mind that summer term classes operate on a condensed schedule, so it’s important to consider how many weeks your course will last and how often it will meet when determining which option works best for you. At JHU, for example, on-campus Summer Term courses run for five weeks, while online courses run for five, six, eight, or 10 weeks.

Give Your GPA a Boost

Summer is a great time to focus on one or two courses, earn good grades, and raise your overall grade point average. Taking classes during the summer can also be a good opportunity for students to retake classes in which they received poor grades.

Explore New Topics

While fall and spring course selections are often driven by graduation requirements, summer term is an ideal time to explore a new area of interest. Take a painting class, dive in to digital photography, or round out your liberal arts studies with an introduction to neuroscience. Whether you study online or on campus, you’ll find options that pique your interest and broaden your knowledge.

Can You Take Summer Classes in College at Another School?

Many universities open summer courses to visiting undergraduate students, allowing you to explore another campus, connect with a new college community, and take courses not offered by your home university or college.

Taking courses as a visiting student is typically referred to as cross-registration or cross-enrollment and requirements vary by school and state. Some colleges and universities have agreements with other institutions that allow students to take classes at the partner institution during the summer, while other schools may require students to apply as non-degree-seeking students. Be sure to check your college or university’s policy for cross-enrollment.

Visiting International Students

If you are an international student interested in studying at a U.S. institution, online and on-campus summer options may allow you to not only earn college credit and gain knowledge, but also to explore a different culture and become part of a new learning community.

If you study on campus, you will be immersed in the social and academic life of an American college student. Online studies offer many of the same benefits, with the flexibility to engage in your course of study from almost anywhere in the world. Be sure to review your desired university’s admission requirements for international students. If you intend to study on campus, you should begin the process as early as possible so you have ample time to apply for the appropriate visa.

Should I Take Summer Classes in College?

With the flexibility to fit courses into your busy summer schedule, taking a summer course—or two—as an undergraduate student can be an ideal way to knock out a course requirement, pay focused attention to one or two courses, explore new topics and communities, and even boost your GPA.

At Johns Hopkins University, experienced faculty and dedicated staff are committed to helping you achieve your academic goals and to make the most of your summer through Summer at Hopkins’ Summer Term courses for undergraduates.

Popular courses and programs fill up quickly, so apply as early as possible. Learn more about Summer at Hopkins today!

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