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Is Taking Summer Courses a Good Way to Add Value to my College Education?

summer coursesEach spring, students at colleges and universities consider whether or not it’s a good idea to add summer courses to their list of things to accomplish before the fall semester gets in gear. In many cases, students simply decide against attending a summer session. Their reasons include everything from holding down a summer job to simply wanting a break from the grind of college life. These reasons are understandable, but they leave one key metric out of the picture: value. Summer classes are actually a key way to add value to any undergraduate or graduate degree programs, and there are several reasons why this is the case at most colleges across the country.

Get a Head Start on Other Students in the Program

Students have come to accept that it’s going to take four or five years to complete their undergraduate degree, no matter how many classes they take each semester and how highly they score in these classes. This is actually not the case. Students are typically permitted to schedule between 9 and 12 credits during a summer session, which is almost the traditional amount of credits taken during a typical spring or fall semester. Students who take 12 credits during three summer sessions can trim more than a year off of their expected graduation date, beating their classmates to commencement and being the first in line for lucrative job offers that might not wait an extra year to be filled. This adds real value in terms of return on investment (ROI), because it means that students are more quickly transitioning to a full-time, salaried position in a career that will help offset their college tuition costs.

Summer Grant Programs Help Offset Summer Tuition

Many states operate summer grant programs that help students pay for their summer credits. These summer programs typically exist alongside traditional grant programs that function in the spring and summer semesters, giving students a way to advance their class status without adding a significant amount of student loan debt to their personal balance sheets. Grant programs may reduce a student’s eligibility for future spring and fall grants, but that shouldn’t be a problem for students who eliminate a semester or more of study by taking courses during the summer months.

Summer Courses Count as Prior-Year Financial Aid

Another reason to consider summer classes is that they’re technically considered part of the prior academic year’s financial aid package. This means that students who take summer classes can actually divide key student loans and grant programs into three parts, rather than two, and spread their financial aid out in a way that reduces their student loan borrowing requirements during future semesters. As a result, graduates who consistently enroll in summer sessions will graduate sooner and do so with a much smaller student loan balance. This enhances the ROI of their degree and it ensures that graduates can afford to repay the loans they’ve taken out as they work their way toward commencement.

A Great Opportunity to Add Value to a Degree Program

Summer classes are an often overlooked way to reduce the length of a degree program and enhance its overall return on investment. Students who enroll in these classes will be able to take advantage of summer grant programs, advance their class standing, rely less heavily on student loans, and locate great jobs before their peers. For this reason, it should be a no-brainer to add at least a few summer courses to any student’s schedule.

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