summer college courses

Should you take summer college courses?

Jun 21, 2021 | Career

Summer is here. 

How do you plan to spend the next few months? Do you plan to start a part-time job, read more books, travel, or learn a new skill? Summer has always been a time to do things you didn’t have time for during the school year. After semesters of attending courses, studying, taking exams, and doing group projects, you’re probably ready for a well-deserved break…if you can get one. For some of us, the pandemic meant attending scant Zoom classes, dealing with canceled courses, or delaying the first year of college altogether. Which means summer can look very different for some of us, as we grapple between making up for missed courses or enjoying our first summer out in a year. 

Being forced to spend several hours a week attending multiple courses can put a damper on your summer plans. Not to mention the summer internships, job shadowing, and fellowships opportunities you’ll miss.  

But there’s a way you can still take the general education courses you missed during the school year and have time to pursue your summer activities. It’s through a process called CLEP. 

What is CLEP?

CLEP is a Credit-by-Exam test. Credit-by-Exam allows you to earn college credits if you pass subject-specific exams. For example, with Credit-by-Exam, you can take a College Math exam and, once you pass, earn credits that you can transfer to your preferred college. How many credits you earn and how those credits are applied will depend on your school. Check with your academic advisor first to find out your college’s exact policy on Credit-by-Exam.

Prep for Credit-by-Exam Tests with Smarter. Learn how. 

Usually, you’d use Credit-by-Exam tests like CLEP to take and pass tests on subjects you’ve already studied. But, with a bit of preparation, like the prep courses offered by Smarter with Achieve, you can take and pass exams on subjects you aren’t familiar with! This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. For one, Credit-by-Exam tests usually cover a general overview of the subject. And secondly, the resources, study guides, and virtual instruction offered by Smarter with Achieve will give you a solid head-start in prepping for your exams.

How College Students Spend Their Time

To really appreciate how much time you can save with CLEP, let’s compare it to taking a traditional college course. Just how much time would you spend taking general education courses the traditional way, anyway? 

The typical degree-seeker spends up to 15 hours a week just attending college courses. Then you’ll have to factor in the time you’ll take studying, socializing with friends, and being involved in any on-campus activities: a total of 22 additional hours weekly. When you add it all up, that leaves very little time, if any, to explore alternative learning methods, like getting an internship to gain hands-on experience or working a part-time job. 

The CLEP Difference 

If you take advantage of CLEP exams, you can save up to 1.5 years on college.  

The Fastest Way to Your Degree Path
  • Individuals who took CLEP exams and earned bachelor’s degrees saved an average of 10 months of classroom time. 
  • People who used CLEP and earned an associate’s degree saved an average of 5 months to degree completion. 

As you take more and more exams, the number of credits you earn will add up, potentially reducing the amount of time you spend on your degree. You can expect to save up to 100 hours of coursework and homework with every CLEP exam you take. 

Not only can CLEP help you save time, but you can also save money on the cost of college. For example, if you earn 15 CLEP credits, you could potentially save up to $5,000 on the cost of schooling. Your college’s policy on CLEP will be a significant determining factor in this. While some institutions may accept as many as 60 credits, other colleges limit the amount of CLEP credits you can earn to just 12. Check with your admissions advisor for more details. 

Should I Take Summer Courses at College?

While taking summer courses at your local college can shorten the time spend on your degree, but there are some significant downsides:

  • There’s a smaller number of courses with limited availability. Most everyone goes on vacation during the summer, meaning there are fewer students and professors on campus. To make up for this, colleges often have limited course availability during the summer. 
  • Summer courses can be pretty pricey, and you’re not likely to have them covered by scholarships either. Since most students only take one or two courses, most likely, you’ll have to pay out of pocket by credit hour. 
  • There are other opportunity costs to consider. What else could you be doing with your summer? Having a summer internship could lead to a job offer after you graduate. Not to mention, it’ll allow you to start building a post-graduate network. Even if you cannot land an internship for the summer, volunteering at a non-profit would look great on your resume. Taking summer courses on campus can limit your time to do other things for your future. 

The Smarter Way  

If you still need to take general education courses and have knowledge of the subject, why sit through a course when you can test out with CLEP? Then, all you’d have to do is take a single exam that’ll only cost you about $85, not including fees. Plus, if you prep with Smarter, you can be prepared to pass your exam in as little as four prep sessions. Then, instead of spending your summer sitting in a classroom, you can take and pass your CLEP exams and have the credits you earned transferred to the college of your choice. 

CLEP exams are the best way to accelerate your degree. In addition, they are often a cheaper alternative to college credits. There are 30 exams available in the CLEP program that you can take and pass for college credits. And over 3,000 colleges offer credits for qualifying CLEP exam scores.

It’s that easy. With Smarter, you can time and even money on your degree. And the best part is, you don’t have to sacrifice your summer to do it. Our prep sessions only meet once a week and have just one condensed book. So you can still take a summer internship, go on vacation or go on an alternative break trip. 

Ready to learn more about CLEP? Reach out to one of our advisors today!

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