The advantage of taking a credit course over the summer in school or online is that it lightens one’s course load during the school year. Students that plan on taking all three sciences in grade 11 or 12, as well as all three maths in grade 12 tend to take a course over the summer. On the other hand, some students want to be able to take more courses than is possible during the school year in order to keep their options open when applying to postsecondary programs, so they choose to take courses over the summer.
The advantages to taking a course over the summer are fairly evident, but are there also disadvantages? The pace of a summer course tends to be much faster than that of a course taken during the school year. A student taking a course over the summer might feel like too much is being covered over a short period of time. The accelerated pace of the course might not allow enough time for a student to consolidate and assimilate the learning that the course delivers. Since the course progresses so rapidly, there is not much time for reinforcement of learning. Additionally, some important concepts that are normally covered might be skipped because there is not enough time to cover the entire curriculum of the course. And this can affect how well a student does in a subsequent course that relies on the student attaining prior knowledge from a prerequisite course.
How can a student taking a course during the summer circumvent these disadvantages? The student can work with a mentor or tutor that can help clarify difficult-to-understand concepts and can help the student consolidate what he or she learned in class. The mentor/tutor could also teach the student concepts that are normally covered but where skipped due to the accelerated nature of the course, so that the student ends up being better prepared to do well in future courses that he or she takes.
Is it better to take a summer course in school or online? An in-class course is likelier to be more comprehensive and informative since there is an actual teacher teaching the content. The teacher would also be available for clarification and extra help. An online course would require the student to have to learn the content of the course on his or her own since access to a teacher will be fairly limited. Moreover, the student would have a hard time knowing if he or she is completing assessments correctly, since there won’t be anyone to check their work over. It is not advisable to do an online course without the guidance and feedback of a tutor or mentor.
Over the years, I have helped many students do well in courses that they took over the summer whether they were in a physical classroom or online. I’ve come to realize that the majority of students have a hard time doing well in these courses, unless they have access to a mentor to guide them along and help clarify any gaps in understanding.