The bachelor’s degree is sometimes described as “four-year,” but this term is becoming increasingly inaccurate. About one-third of students in four-year degree programs took five or six years to graduate, according to Businessweek’s Bloomberg. Those extra years mean a huge increase in student expenses – and often, student loan debt and its accompanying interest – as well as delaying entrance into the professional world. Taking summer courses is one way to avoid extra years of undergraduate study. Online summer courses allow students to get ahead in school without sacrificing their summer break entirely.

Benefits of Taking Summer Courses

In the wake of lengthening undergraduate careers, more students are enrolling in summer courses, which has led colleges to increase their offerings, according to The Boston Globe. Students now have more options of courses to take during the summer, which in turn makes summer classes even more appealing. For students who changed majors during their college career, summer courses can help them make up for missed time. Students with heavy course loads, like those pursuing dual majors or accelerated degree programs, may take summer courses to make the workload more manageable. If students are dedicated to taking enough summer courses over the course of their education, they can sometimes shave off a full semester of study.

Students aren’t only saving time when they take summer classes. They also save money. At many schools, summer courses are cheaper than the same courses offered during the fall or spring semesters. While exactly how much cheaper a summer course is depends on the college, the discount could be as much as half off the regular tuition cost, The Boston Globe reported.

Taking Summer Courses Online

Online courses may have even more benefits than traditional summer courses. Traditional summer courses often require students to meet for several hours at a time, several days a week, which means they must give up time otherwise used for working, vacations or life experiences. With online courses, this sacrifice is no longer necessary. As long as students have access to computers and the Internet and are willing to devote time to coursework, they can do the work from anywhere, and often at whatever time is most convenient.

Online college isn’t necessarily cheaper than traditional college. In fact, it’s sometimes more expensive. However, the costs of online summer courses aren’t increasing as quickly as the costs of traditional summer courses, meaning the tuition cost has become equal or nearly equal at some schools in recent years, which makes this convenient option even more desirable.

Online summer courses are an excellent way for students to catch up or even get ahead in their studies while saving money and time. As schools continue to offer more variety in online summer courses, students can benefit from taking extra courses during what has traditionally been a break in between semesters, and they don’t have to give up work or summer plans to do so.