College students may take summer and winter classes for a variety of reasons. They may want to graduate earlier, lighten up their regular semester course load, save money, or focus on only one subject because of its rigor or interesting nature. While using the time of the long breaks wisely may have many benefits, there are also some downfalls. College students who are taking or considering taking summer and winter classes should weigh out the pros and cons before making a commitment.

The Pros

  • Summer and winter classes are typically not drawn out over 15 weeks like they are in the fall and spring. They are typically three to nine weeks. However, the classes are held more frequently; therefore, they are accelerated. Instead of meeting two to three times a week for an hour, they may meet four to five times a week for two to four hours.

  • Many colleges offer their summer and winter classes at a discounted rate, which can help students save hundreds and even thousands of dollars just by using their time wisely.

  • Since summer and winter classes are accelerated, students would most likely not be taking five classes. They may be taking three classes at the most, which narrows in their focus on a difficult or interesting subject.

  • The class sizes will be smaller, which is beneficial for getting more attention from the instructor and easing the anxiety of being a lecture hall of 200 students.

  • If students takes summer and winter classes, they may have the ability to graduate early or simply lighten their typical semester course load and still graduate on time. Students who work during college can benefit from a lighter course load.

The Cons

  • Burnout is the biggest concern regarding winter and summer classes. Most students need the long hiatus that summer break and winter break provides in order to reduce their stress level and perform better during the regular semesters.
  • The accelerated courses may be intense because they meet more times a week for longer sessions.

  • The selection of classes is smaller. If a student needs to fulfill a requirement, they will have a smaller selection of choices, so they may have too settle on a class that does not interest them or a professor that would not be a good fit with them.

  • Summer and winter classes require more motivation. Some students may find it difficult to stay motivated when they know that their classmates are relaxing and having fun during break.

  • Taking summer and winter classes may interfere with the opportunity to work or take internships, which are experiences that may be even more valuable than time in the classroom because they provide hands-on experience and possibly money to pay for school and other expenses.