The Long-Term Benefits of Summer School

“Summer days, driftin’ away….”

“Summer sun, something’s begun – but uh-oh those summer nights.”

Olivia Newton-John as Sandy, and John Travolta as Danny, in Grease, 1978

If your summer won’t be filled with the fun and frolic of mythical Rydell High School, well…you should likely consider how you’ll best spend the upcoming months.

Three options may bubble up often, and can even be combined: working a job, and vacation/travel and gulp, summer school.

Working creates needed income and teaches responsibility. A good summer job can start a lifetime passion, help you master a life skill or spark an entrepreneurial dream.

A vacation or travel can create long-lasting family memories, involve philanthropy through a mission-style trip, or inspire a lifetime love of adventure. But because trips are not typically an all-summer experience, you’ll likely have other time to fill.

By making school a part of your summer, you can stay sharp, accelerate your educational progress and potentially save a lot of money. Once limited to mandatories like gym, drivers education or math, summer school has expanded by topic and venue to create excellent long-term opportunities per hour invested.

While many students dreamily envision a summer of taking it easy, chillin’ – or whatever you might call it – they’re also conditioned to a certain life pace and thirst for intellectual stimulation. Excessive idle time or putting learning on hold can be a one-way ticket to boredom. Instead, enrolling in summer-style classes can be refreshing and highly beneficial. Consider taking classes that may not have been offered earlier, or, whose commitment could be compromised by rigid sports or performance arts practice schedules.

Think of summer school as a down payment toward your larger goals. The compacted course content allows a subject to be satisfied in weeks, not months. By completing required classes or honors versions over the summer, you can knock out a few of the must-haves – and usually, the sooner the better.  A rule of thumb is to take 12-15 hours if you’re working part-time, and 3-6 hours if you’re working more of a full-time schedule.

Summer school may be a necessity. Perhaps you need to catch up or become more proficient in a certain subject. Or maybe the escalating cost of college and increased student financial responsibility – compared to prior generations – makes summer school attractive. Summer courses in baseline subjects can be accomplished at a 50% – 75% cost savings (think of it as a discount) and will likely transfer to a traditional four-year university. Completing summer coursework can not only save money now, but can also maximize your dollar or time investment  later. With published reports citing a $594 average cost per college credit hour, it pays to spend your time and money wisely. By graduating from college a semester early through advance coursework or high achievement, overall college savings can top $20,000.

Increasingly, summer school isn’t limited to the same-old classroom routine.  A “must-see” college or university may offer a summer pre-college program, allowing you to experience campus life, meet staff and other prospective students, or discover under-the-radar scholarships. You might even find yourself being recruited, and later, having summer school on your resume will speak highly of your initiative and discipline.

When considering how to spend your summer, give extra attention to the benefits of summer school.