Summer is a time to take a break from school for many college students, and time away from campus allows students to return to their hometowns, begin internships or go on vacation.
But for many, education does not end once the spring semester is over.
Online summer classes have been on the rise at Illinois State University and colleges across the country over the last few years. One of the biggest draws of digital classes is that they can help students get the credits they need no matter where their location or other responsibilities.
“I believe that online summer courses have become increasingly popular because more online courses are being offered and students are more comfortable with the online learning environment,” Danielle Lindsey, ISU director of academic services, said.
ISU is currently offering 263 summer online courses. These classes also give students more flexibility with their time during the summer months, in which many students often work more hours or even study abroad.
“[Summer online classes] allow students to focus on one class at a time rather than four or five at once like a typical semester,” Julie Navickas, academic advisor for the School of Communication, said.
“They also lighten the load of a traditional spring or fall semester.”
While online learning environments tend to be more challenging than being in a traditional classroom environment, they provide students with a chance to work on their time management skills, learn with new technology and become more of a self-directed learner.
“I needed to take summer classes to graduate in December but I also couldn’t stay in town for the summer. I was able to come home and it fit my schedule because I work two jobs,” Olivia Svetich, senior mass media major, said.
“It opens my schedule … I participate or work on homework on my time. If I decide I want to go hang out with friends at the pool, I can because there isn’t a class time I have to sit through,” she said.
“It also lets me be home with friends and family over the summer.”
In addition to online classes being conducted through ReggieNet, even if a course is not delivered 100 percent online, most teachers make use of the site to supplement students’ learning.
However, condensing a semester’s worth of learning material into four, six or eight weeks tends to make classes more intense and demands a higher dedication to the course from the student.
“Students must not be fooled by the word ‘online,’” Navickas said. “Often times, students equate online equals easy. This is not the case.”
Because of this, online classes may not be right for all students, Lindsey said.
“Students need to understand that they will need to dedicate time and put forth effort, just as they would for a traditional face-to-face course, to successfully complete an online summer course,” she added.
“[They] may be a great option for students who have to work during the summer, or have other obligations such as internships, and they also need to complete certain course requirements to keep them on track for degree completion. Completing a degree on time can help students save money.”
Taking a class or two during the summer is a great way for students to get ahead in their completion of a college degree. With so many students taking advantage of these options, summer online classes are likely to continue becoming more popular.