Taking a course over the winter break is a good way to get ahead on credits but is it worth the extra effort?
To answer that question, you’ll need to consider a lot of options:
The first thing to do is talk with your adviser. They will have more info on how to register, what courses are offered, etc. You’ll also need to research payment and logistics. You can find more info on winter sessions through your Continuing Education (Cornell) or Extended Studies (U of MD) Departments.
Many colleges have a winter break long enough to complete a course but some don’t. Arizona State University adjusted it’s fall and spring terms to make courses more flexible but that meant that the winter courses wouldn’t be offered anymore. If your school does offer courses, there will be a reduced number to choose from. You may not be able to find a class that fits your needs. Check with your adviser to find out if a winter course fits into your academic program.
If your college does offer courses over winter break, they usually won’t allow you to stay in your dorm. This is obviously a problem. Often they will suggest that you look into hotels which can add a lot of expense to the prospect. Some schools may give the option of staying on campus for added fee. But if you live year-round off-campus, you’ll have the housing which makes a winter course a possibility.
The next thing to consider is the possibility of an online course. Colleges like University of Wisconsin and UMass Amherst offer on-line courses over the winter break. These can be a good option because you’ll be at home and still hanging out with your family. Remember that online courses require personal discipline because you’re expected to work independently.
Another option is taking a course at your local community college over the break. You’ll need to work with your adviser to make sure that the community college course you select will be accepted for credit at your four year institution. There will also be some extra coordination to make sure the different winter break timelines line up. But if you can get everything lined up, community colleges can be a good way to get ahead.
Once you get all the technical details figured out, you need to think about your personality. Having a break between terms is important for you to recharge. You might get burned out if you don’t have that down time. Also winter courses are compressed and require lots of time. You won’t have time to spend with family and friends.
If your can find a course over the winter break (on campus, online or at a community college) and you think you can handle the continuous stress without a break then winter session courses can be a great way to check-off some general education requirements, or get ahead in your program.
Northern Arizona has a good article about the pros and cons of winter classes.