To Take Summer Courses or Not, That Is the Question

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Summer can be your time to relax, but four months could be a little too much time! If you still have some energy left from the year, taking summer courses may not be a bad idea.

Reasons to Take Summer Courses

By taking summer courses, you can reduce your workload for your next academic year, especially if you felt that having to take five or more courses per term was too challenging. If you are pursuing a double major or a minor, you can also fulfill some of your program requirements during the summer.

If you have a particularly difficult course (such as organic chemistry) that you have to face next year, you may choose to take it during the summer, give it your undivided attention, and get it out of the way. Not only would you likely get a higher mark for that course, but taking the course in summer could also greatly relieve the pressure you would feel next year. As well, some professional and graduate schools do not include summer courses when calculating your GPA for admission. In that case, you would be able to protect your GPA from that “killer” course in a legitimate way.

Because summer courses tend to be shorter than winter session courses, you have some flexibility in planning your summer. If you need to catch up on some coursework but also want to enjoy the summer, you can perhaps complete two months of coursework and spend the remaining two months on relaxing.

For those who commute to school regularly and use the Compass Card (UPass), enrolling in a non-online summer course also means you get a compass card for the summer term you are registered in. This may be useful if you’re planning to bus or take the skytrain in Vancouver during your free time. Keep in mind that you will only be able to request the UPass for the specific summer term you are taking courses in.

Reasons to NOT Take Summer Courses:

Many professional/graduate programs want to see that you can handle a full courseload. Thus, even though taking a full courseload may be stressful, you may not want to reduce your courseload in the winter. Also, if you are in an honours program, you are required to take 30 credits every winter session; even if you take summer courses, you would still need to take a full courseload in the winter.

As summer sessions have limited course availability, you may not be able to find the right course at your convenient time. For example, in 2011 summer, BIOL 112 was offered only from 7 PM to 10 PM. If you currently live in Winter Session Residence, you will need to find alternative housing and commute during the summer. One option is to rent a sublet from another student.

The short duration of summer courses offers some flexibility in your summer planning; however, it can be challenging to keep up with the long and fast-paced lectures, as you can learn up to a week’s amount of material in a day. Also, since you learn the content so quickly, the knowledge you gain in summer courses can be volatile (you may have to review the notes again by the time you take higher level courses).

Maybe there’s something more interesting to do in the summer. Maybe you can do full-time work in the summer to gain some work experience and earn money. Maybe it's a good time to travel the world. The summer is yours, and you should not feel obligated to take summer courses just because other people do it.

Note: There is a date to drop your summer course if you change your mind after enrolling in the first week.


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