The School Year is Almost Over. Should You Take Summer Classes?

Though you might not be itching to run back into a classroom, enrolling in a summer class at a local college might just be the best way to spend a healthy chunk of your summer. Over 1.3 million high school students in the U.S. enrolled in college courses last year, and it’s no surprise: immersing yourself in a brand-new environment — college! — will prepare you for the moment you head off on your own journey into higher education. Plus, you’ll end up learning not just the course material but also much about yourself and the world beyond high school.

Summer school isn’t for everyone, however, and there are both good and bad reasons to plunge into the challenging world of college courses. If you just want to graduate early, ask yourself why. The years you spend in college yield some of the most intellectually and profoundly stimulating moments of your life! When else will you find yourself awake at 3 AM, surrounded by a group of similarly bright, budding scholars like yourself, all discussing the weirdness of quantum physics, the merits of Skrillex and Nas, or the political implications of The Hunger Games? Don’t cut that time short by trying to race to the finish.

And if you’re just trying to knock those pesky prerequisites and general education requirements out of the way, you might consider why they’re required in the first place. Your engineering program isn’t requiring you to take an English Literature course just because they wanted to make your courseload bigger! The program’s designers understand the value of infusing a more abstract-minded approach into your college experience, and how the skills that humanities courses build — like writing effectively and analyzing large volumes of text — transfer over to any number of science and math courses inside and outside of the program.

And you may feel like you’ll never need to take a math class again, so why not get rid of your future college’s math requirement by taking it over the summer? Well, just as taking humanities courses adds some heady-minded abstraction to your work, taking math and science courses during college imbues your other classes with highly-structured, concrete ways of thinking. Plus, you’ll miss out on taking courses that might be more engaging, useful, and based in real-world applications: colleges usually don’t offer courses like The Physics of Music, The History of Mathematics, or Statistics for Economists over the summer. Hold out for these gems: they’re guaranteed to make your taste for these disciplines grow exponentially.

But if you want to explore a field you’ve always been interested in — or one you’ve never even considered interesting — or if you’re looking to try something new and unfamiliar, then taking classes over the summer is a can’t-miss opportunity.

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