Shop ’til you drop: Is summer school worth it?

It might be the beginning of the semester, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start thinking about summer school. In fact, there’s even an info sesh this Wednesday, Feb. 1, about it at 1 p.m. online. (Be sure to reserve a spot if you’re interested.) While summer school is often seen as a necessary evil if you failed a class, it can still be a viable way to spend your summer. But should you even take a summer course? Here are some factors to consider.


Depending on which class you take, summer school is a six to 12 week session. The classes you take will be faster paced than one during the school year, but you’ll generally be more focused on the content since it’ll be the only class you’d be taking.

Classes are available for every major, but some departments will have more offerings than others. Some majors only have intro classes, some only upper-level courses, while some have both. Be sure to check out the course listings to find the class best for you.


There are three different dates that you can opt for. Session one is from May 22 to June 30; Session 2 is from July 3 to Aug. 11; then there’s an uber-special option for the truly gung-ho that’s a 12-week session from May 22 to Aug. 11.


To study at Columbia over the summer, you’ll need to pay the school a certain amount of $$$. One credit point costs $1,630, 2 points $3,260, 3 points $4,890, and 4 or more $1,630 per point. For example, 6 points would cost $9,780 (because 6 x $1,630 = $9,780), as stated on the website.

Why Catch up to the crowd

If you take a look at your major requirements and find one class that’s a basic prerequisite for everything else, you might wanna consider going to summer school. If you decided to be a psychology major but still haven’t taken The Science of Psychology, then you’re gonna be behind the pack when next year rolls around. If you didn’t find the perfect major until your sophomore year and are feeling like you’re lagging behind, maybe give summer in the city a go.

Get ahead of the game

If you’ve already completed some of your major or pre-professional requirements, that doesn’t mean summer school isn’t useful. In fact, if you only need one or two classes left to complete your reqs, you could finish everything up over the summer.

For instance, pre-meds and chemistry majors can do their orgo year over the summer. That’ll save up some time and give you an open slot during the school year to do whatever tickles your fancy.

You took an L

If you did end up getting a poor grade in a class, or missed the drop deadline and got stuck with a W, summer school is a great option. You won’t have the stress of other classes to get in the way, giving you the ability to focus on getting that A.

You got denied

I don’t wanna be a Debbie Downer, but not everyone gets their numero uno internship or fellowship. If you ended up without a summer activity, going to summer school is a great option to keep you busy and get ahead. While you might not be working at Goldman Sachs downtown, you could still learn the know-hows of business and finance at summer school.

Staying in the city

If you don’t wanna go home for the summer, then taking summer courses is an easy way to convince your parents to let you stay in NYC this summer. It’s not like CU accepts course credit anywhere else, so you have to take classes here. Besides, I’m sure taking that stats class you’ve been putting off while having more free time to actually explore the city would be way better than being bored at home.

Money, money, money

As with all things at CU, taking summer classes and living in CU housing is going to cost you hella green. So, be sure to talk about your financial situation with your family. If you have the funds, then summer school can be a reality. If not, there are still several scholarships, grants, and jobs you can apply for to help pay for everything.

But like, school sucks

There are several advantages to summer school. But, at the end of the day, we already spend eight months studying and working our booties off. We do need a long, deserved break from school. So, even if you don’t get the internship you want, there are tons of things you can do besides studying. You can get a summer job, travel, volunteer, binge-watch shows on Netflix, read, take up a new hobby, etc. etc., all of which might be difficult to do with summer school in the way.

No matter what your summer plans are, it’s important to stay organized and actually discuss everything thoroughly with your parents. They’re your biggest supporters; keep them in the loop.

Got any summer school stories to share? Tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat @CUSpectrum.

Huber Gonzalez is Spectrum’s deputy editor and a Columbia College sophomore. He’s considering taking summer classes if everything else he plans on doing falls through. Reach him at


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