If you’re in certain programs, you have no choice but to take classes over the summer (or they may be co-op or clinical placements). But a lot of programs don’t have that requirement, meaning you’re free to choose whether or not to take a summer class or two. So how do you know if you should? Tyler Hall, an advisor in the Bissett Student Success Centre, talked to us about what you should think about.
1. Course length
Summer courses are set up differently than fall and winter courses. A summer course could run anywhere from three weeks to three months. When choosing one it’s important to consider how long you have to complete the course and what learning style works best for you. For example, you can take Chemistry over the summer, but it’s condensed into one month. If you miss one day, that’s like missing an entire week! So it’s important that you’re able to make it to each class.
2. Courses offered
Finding required classes for some degree programs shouldn’t be an issue, but keep in mind that not all courses may be offered. The timetable is available now so you can check to see what’s being offered (and registration opens on February 25, 2019). This may also be a good time to explore courses outside of your major. Make sure you talk with an advisor to see how many open elective classes you have!
3. Course load
Taking summer courses can change the number of courses you have to take during the fall and winter terms. The usual route to completing your degree in four years is to take 10 courses each year. Taking summer courses could lighten your load during the rest of the year. For example, you could take four in the fall, four in the winter, and two in the summer. If you have a job during the year and find it hard to balance school and work, this might work for you! But keep in mind that some professional programs require you to take five courses each term and don’t count summer courses for admission purposes. Again, you should check with an advisor before deciding.
4. Study abroad courses
Do you have the travel bug? Have dreams of traveling the world but you don’t want to delay your graduation plan? There are opportunities to study abroad in the summer for a couple weeks or months. Check out the International Learning Experiences site for more information! There are also travel opportunities within certain faculties. Be sure to check out the Seaside courses to see if they could count towards your degree!
5. Online courses
For many of you, summer is when you make the majority of your money for the year, which means working as much as possible. If your work schedule stops you from being in class or you aren’t staying in the city, you could check out some online courses. It’s important to make sure the course you’re looking at is offered entirely online. Sometimes exams must be done in person on campus, but most allow you to do them at a certified testing centre. Checking in with the professor before registering is always a great idea.
6. Field school
Depending on your program, you may have one or two field school courses, which are mandatory and only offered in the summer. These courses are typically offered for a week or two either at the beginning or the end of the summer, to allow space for you to do other things. Degrees such as environmental science or earth science require them, do be sure to check your degree to see if it’s required for you!
Money is always something to consider! Make sure you can afford to take the classes. You should also look to see if any scholarships you have require taking 5 courses per semester. If that’s the case, summer courses might not be right for you.
There are lots of things to consider before deciding on a summer course. It is always a good idea to meet with your advisor to help explore all your options!