Taking summer school? Back in high school, I would have laughed at the idea. However looking back on it now, I think taking more summer classes in the past 3 years would have been a better idea.
When I came in as a freshman at UC Berkeley, I was surprised to hear that about half of students take classes over the summer. Though as 3 school years (and 3 summers) have passed, I have come to understand why.
With fee hikes one after another, it is no wonder that the majority of students are cramming in classes to graduate as soon as possible. Taking summer classes can actually save you both time and money, as summer class fees are often calculated based on how many semester/quarter units are taken. This is in contrast to the set school fee during the regular term, which would be the same regardless if you are taking on the minimum or the maximum load.
Summer sessions are also a great way to get some of those unwanted classes out of the way, such as undergraduate requirements or that one evil math class. For instance, taking that one horrible class in the summer allows you to focus on it, get it out of the way, and not stress over it alongside other classes you have to normally take during the school year. Taking one or two summer classes in general just allows you to focus on a smaller serving of classes, though in a more condensed format.
Taking summer school also just keeps your mind fresh. Studies have indeed shown that learning loss does occur as we laze around in the summer sun for two months. Math and reading skills are shown to drop, in both students of primary and higher education.
Personally, I feel I have gained a lot from taking a class last summer. Perhaps it was the nature of class — a small language class, where we saw each other and interacted 3+ hours every day, but many of us ended up becoming great friends. Our professor called us “lively” and like a high school class (I still wonder whether or not that was a compliment). It was a 10 unit class, the equivalent of a fall and spring semester squished into 10 weeks. Taking this summer class ended up saving me from having to take an extra semester. I will be able to graduate in 4 years, even as a double major. (By the way, taking on a 10 unit class was actually not too bad because it was the only class I was taking. It allowed for an intense concentration of language study that I would not have been able to get while taking my heavy literature classes.)
In short, consider summer school as it can save money, time and may even have some unexpected pluses both in the short and the long run.
Photo courtesy of George Foster via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).