Should You Take Summer Courses in University? A 4th-Year Student's Perspective
Natashia, a Glendon student who's soon to graduate, shares her thoughts on taking uni courses during the summer break.
By Natashia Mavin, Honours BA & BEd atudent
This blog post shares my perspective on summer courses, to future students, as a current Glendon undergraduate student in Toronto (future Glendon students, click here!). I personally never took a single summer course in high school, as I loved my free summers — still, I'd highly recommend university students take summer courses. Here's why:
Easier transition from high school
For those of you who may be worried about starting post-secondary, taking summer courses can help you to ease your course load in your first year. I would suggest you avoid taking the max number of courses in your first year. Instead, spread them out throughout the fall, winter, and summer semesters, to allow for a more seamless transition.
Lighter course load
If you're looking for a more balanced school year, and a more manageable course load, you could take fewer courses during the fall and winter semesters, then take courses during the summer to make up it. Most mandatory courses are offered in the summer, and this could help to reduce stress, better focus on your courses, and even give you some time for extra-curriculars (student clubs, research, part-time jobs, volunteering, etc.).
(And sometimes, courses in the summer are faster-paced, meaning you'll learn the same material in roughly half the time.)
Complete your requirements
One reason I chose to take summer courses is to complete the many requirements necessary to graduate. My first summer at university, between years 1 and 2, I took a Natural Science course, NATS1670, to complete my General Education requirements.
While it's not mandatory to take summer courses, it can be useful for a program with a lot of different, and specific requirements. An academic advisor helped me choose my courses during my enrollment appointment and I can always check back with Academic Services at any time to check my progress.
It's important to consider that different courses and subjects are available at different times of the year, so if you see a course that interests you, and that is being offered in the summer, it is best to take the course then when it is available.
What does this mean? For example, as a Concurrent Education student, I was able to start my year 5 Education courses in year 4 of my undergrad, while simultaneously completing undergrad requirements. This is possible for students who have a small number of credits remaining in their undergrad degree.
I took either a full course load of 30 credits, or the maximum of 36 credits every year, and then I would also take one or two courses in the summer. While it was stressful at times, I am so thankful to be ahead of my degree, and to be able to graduate a year earlier than planned so that I can start my career sooner.
Another thing to consider is that a variety of courses available in the summer are courses that are taught abroad, or that include time abroad. I took a course that's taught in Costa Rica in May of 2022. It was an amazing experience — check out some highlights on TikTok! York University actually has an Eco-Campus of its own in Costa Rica, but also partners with other universities around the world in order to offer 300+ exchange opportunities to study or work abroad!
This is simply my perspective and experience with summer courses, but I hope it can be helpful if you're debating whether or not to take a course during the summer semester. I would say if you have some free time in the summer, it is beneficial to take a course, but it's all up to you.
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