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With summer right around the corner, many students are contemplating whether they should take summer courses or not. While almost three months off for vacation sounds appealing, it’s also good to keep your brain active during this break. Many can experience what is called a “summer brain drain,” which states that you lose up to one month’s worth of content of what you learned during the year.

There are multiple benefits to taking summer classes, which include getting your core/major classes out of the way, smaller classes, and potentially graduating early. However, it is still important to maintain a healthy balance between your mental health and classes. If you try to do too many classes, take them at inconvenient times, or enroll in the wrong type of class for the summer, you can burn out quickly.

When choosing your summer classes, it is important to know your limits and not take on too many classes. Summer classes are extremely condensed and generally have a heavier course load than your typical semester classes. If you overexert yourself, you could end up performing poorly in your classes from being overwhelmed. To prevent this from happening, it would be best to take a maximum of two summer classes.

Another factor to take into consideration is what time you should be taking these classes. University of Houston offers four different summer sessions, including a summer mini session, to provide maximum flexibility. If the summer course you choose has multiple time slots, consider a morning class if you are the type who likes to take advantage of the rest of the day post-classes. Additionally, consider an afternoon or evening class if waking up at 7 a.m. to make an 8 a.m. lecture sounds like the bane of your existence. Schedule accordingly to make time for hobbies and interests to prevent burn out.

Other ways to balance a summer workload include making time for friends and family before the start of a summer session. We may think that homesickness doesn’t really affect us, but starting a new semester without seeing our parents, siblings, pets or whoever we love at home can be difficult. Taking the time to go back helps prevent that feeling of disconnect that can happen. Friends are great, and family gives another form of comfort.

The type of classes you sign up for during the summer also matters. You can either take a core class or classes specifically for your major. Core classes are good to take during the summer because you can easily get them out of the way. However, major classes are also good to take during the summer because although they are more difficult, you can solely focus on that one class. This is also dependent on how far along you are in your degree plan and what classes you have left in order to graduate.

Summer time is also good to take prerequisite classes that you may need for your fall or spring semester classes. Just make sure to sandwich your classes with activities that make you happy, even if they are small.

While there are many benefits to taking summer classes, it can easily backfire on you if you do not prioritize a good balance between your school and personal interests. Feeling burnt out can reduce your productivity and cause you to lose the motivation you once had. Many students also have other commitments during the summer, such as jobs or internships, and it can be difficult to juggle all of this.

Make sure you find small things to enjoy in between your classes and work commitments to enjoy your summer and also reduce your stress. It can be as simple as finding a new show to watch, working out or even listening to a new playlist.

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