sunglasses by pool

It’s the middle of July and it seems like everyone around you is having the best vacation ever. Your friends are uploading great photos to Facebook. Meanwhile, you’re uploading your assignments to Canvas.

Striking the perfect work/life balance is always tough, but it gets especially challenging during the summer. Every student taking summer courses will feel this way to some extent, but it hits home for any adult student who is balancing work or family life. At work, you hear about coworkers’ weekend getaways. At home, even your kids have fun activities through camps or daycare. When sitting at your computer or reading your textbook, it’s hard to NOT feel like you’re missing out.

Your feelings are legitimate—we all deserve some time to soak in the summer! But you should avoid focusing on what you’re losing. It’s not productive. Instead, shift your focus and try to see what you’re gaining!

When you feel like your summer is a bummer, remember your goal. For most, going back to college is all about finishing college quickly. You want to get that degree and take your career to the next level. There are amazing advantages that you’ll gain when you power through your degree program, take online summer courses, and put yourself in the position to get that degree sooner rather than later.

Here are our four favorite advantages of taking summer courses online

1. Flexibility to enjoy the summer

The great thing about taking online courses in the summer (or anytime) is that you can complete your coursework at whatever time of day works for you, wherever works for you. Want to write your capstone paper with your toes in the pool? Go for it! Have some time to finish your discussion post before the children wake up at your vacation rental? No problem!

2. Staying sharp

Have you ever been in an upper-level class and needed a refresher on the material that was covered in the pre-req? When you take courses every term, you can avoid this hurdle. You won’t have long gaps in between related course topics and it will be easier to apply what you’ve learned.

3. Finishing college faster

If you enroll during every term of the year, you can cut a semester or two (maybe even a year) off of the traditional time frame that it takes to complete your degree program. You’ll also need to develop time management skills to keep up with this pace as a student. At the end of the day, it gets you closer to completion and closer to your career goals.

4. Saving money – smart management of your student loan debt

Most students rely on student loans. When you take a long time to earn your degree, you need to be mindful of how much you borrow. Part-time students who borrow the maximum amount term-after-term risk accumulating a lot of debt. When you enroll full-time and work to finish your degree quickly, you can have a better handle on student loan debt.

5. Keeping your momentum

An important factor that help keeps your motivation levels high is seeing progress. If you knock off a course or two each term, your progress is tangible. If you earn your degree at a slower pace, it gets more difficult to fully appreciate your progress.

Person-to-person and student-to-student this will vary, but for many people, it can be hard to get back on the wagon after taking a break. If you identify with this scenario, taking courses each term is a good strategy to keep yourself engaged so you achieve your degree.

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This blog was originally published in July 2015 and was updated to reflect emerging trends and best practices.

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