Summer Courses: Pros and Cons

Posted by Lauren Dick on March 26, 2019

Academic Success

Now that we’re in March and the Summer 2019 course schedules are available, it’s the perfect time to start thinking about summer – summer courses, that is. As someone who has taken quite a few summer courses during their time at York University, I am here to help you consider whether or not to take on a summer course load in 2019!

As always, if you are unsure about taking summer courses, or which courses to take, you should speak with your Faculty’s Academic Advisor.

Note: Each Faculty has different limits for the number of credits you can take during the summer session. Please confirm your Faculty’s guidelines before enrolling in any Summer courses.

People sitting on a couch on their tablets and laptops
You can find York U’s list of Summer courses through the York Courses Website.

How Are Summer Courses Organized?

Before we go into our pros and cons list, we need to break down how summer courses are organized. Summer courses are separated into three main terms: S1 (end of April to mid-June), S2 (mid-July to early-August) and SU (spanning both periods). It’s important to keep this in mind when you’re selecting your courses, because the S1 and S2 terms offer accelerated courses over an 8-week period instead of the 12 weeks we’re used to in the Fall/Winter terms. If you find that your learning style needs the full 12 weeks, then you may want to stick to SU courses. 

Another thing to consider is the number of credits you want to take! Courses with a higher credit value may meet on a condensed schedule with multiple classes per week. Before you sign up for the course, consider how you will manage your time to handle the schedule and pace.

Success Tip: Organize your Summer courses to best suit your schedule – if you know that you’re going to be very busy in July and August, take Summer courses in the S1 term.

A planner on a table with a vase of pink flowers
Pick the courses that best suit your schedule!

What Are the Pros and Cons of Summer Courses?

One of the most important things to keep in mind when making your decision is whether or not summer courses work best for you. In addition to speaking with your Academic Advisor, take a look at the pros and cons outlined below to help you make your choice!


1. Help balance your Fall/Winter schedule

If you prefer to take four courses instead of five during the fall/winter session, you can take a few classes ahead of time to help balance out your schedule.

Balancing out your schedule this way will also help you stay on track with your credits! 

2. Solve a course conflict

If you had to choose between courses in the previous academic session due to a course conflict, you may be able to take the one in the summer. You can also talk to an Academic Advisor to see if there will be any course conflicts in the upcoming fall/winter academic session and solve a conflict in advance.

3. Take a class online and go home for the summer

If you don’t call Toronto home during the summer, taking online summer courses is a great way to keep up with your studies and still go home! You can also earn credits while keeping flexible hours for your summer job by taking an online class.

4. Reach ahead

If you’re like me and require more than 120 credits to graduate, summer courses are a fantastic way to get a head start and stay on (or ahead) of schedule! Also, if you need to a few more credits to graduate, summer courses are a great opportunity to finish your degree and graduate in October.

5. Take a prerequisite

A lot of upper-year classes require prerequisites, but if you don’t have a lot of space in your Fall/Winter schedule, they can be hard to fit in. Summer courses offer another way for you to take your prerequisites before the next Fall/Winter session. Look at past course listings and/or talk with your Academic Advisor to make sure you have all of your prerequisites.

Go through the course listings and see what will work with your schedule!


1. Accelerated timeframe

Compared to our typical fall/winter courses, summer courses during the S1 and S2 terms are about four weeks shorter. As a result, coursework can feel heavier, since students are given the same amount of material on an accelerated timeframe. 

Thankfully, there’s a simple fix: if you prefer a 12-week schedule, select a course in the SU term. Since the SU term runs from May to August, it’s the same length as our fall and winter terms! 

2. Fewer course listings

Although York U offers a wide scope of summer courses, they do not offer the same number of courses in the summer session as they do in the Fall/Winter session. 

However, if you plan which courses to take during the fall/winter session and talk to an Academic Advisor to learn which classes are available in the summer session, you can still take advantage of the pros listed above!

3. Balancing work, school and daily life

This is probably one of the trickiest parts of summer courses—finding a balance between work, school and daily life. 

If you know that you’ll have a heavier social calendar or will be working full-time, consider taking only one course during the summer, rather than two or three. You can also be selective about the academic session – if your May and June months are lighter, try a course in the S1 term!

Finding the right balance is important.

Everyone’s schedule preferences are different, so make sure that you pick the courses that work best for you. Search the York Courses Website to find out what options are available and take the opportunity to learn more about what Summer courses can offer!

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or tweet us @YorkUStudents.

Lauren Dick
Lauren Dick

Lauren Dick graduated in Spring 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Professional Writing and a Professional Certificate in Marketing. She loves to curl up with a good story and a warm cup of tea (only English Breakfast, mind you), and she hopes her blog posts will continue to encourage current and incoming students to learn more about York U and its community.

See other posts by Lauren Dick