Summer break can be a welcome reprieve for many hard-working students hoping to enjoy some relaxing time off in the sun, on the beach, in the woods, on the soccer field, or at the cottage—anywhere peaceful and relaxing. No more homework, exams, and mandatory attendance. No more gym class, lukewarm cafeteria food, and late nights spent highlighting so many words the highlighter runs out of fluorescent ink.
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Well, yes and no. Time off from school in the summer can be a necessarily rejuvenating adjournment for students, but too much time off can be unproductive. Plus, summer school offers a wide range of benefits. If you’re a secondary student, attending summer school may help you:
- Focus more on individual subjects
- Earn credits faster
- Leverage a lifeline if you’re struggling
- Enjoy a work-life balance (this is especially true if you’re a busy or mature student)
- Raise your GPA
- Study subjects not available at your main school of registration (also known as your home school)
Unfortunately, many misconceptions about summer school persist, and these misconceptions often prevent students from even considering the possibility of attending summer school, despite its potential benefits.
With summer approaching, choosing whether or not to attend summer school is an important decision that could affect your academic future and it’s a decision that should not be influenced by common misconceptions.
Misconceptions About Summer School
Common misconceptions about summer school include:
- Schools shut down in summer because students need a lengthy break
- Schools shut down in the summer for good reason
- Summer school is only for struggling students who underperform in their classes
- Students don’t want to learn in the summer
Schools Shut Down in Summer because Students Need a Lengthy Break
Breaks are important for everyone, no matter their age or occupation. For students, taking breaks may:
- Improve focus
- Increase productivity
- Decrease stress
- Encourage healthy habits
- Boost creativity
- Refuel energy levels
- Prevent decision fatigue
- Improve memory
- Consolidate learning
- Boost physical health
Incorporating breaks into the day is essential for our physical and mental well-being.
Yet when it comes to students, certain types of breaks are better than others. Periodic breaks during and between study sessions are prudent for students. So too are week-long breaks between semesters. Month-long breaks, however, are a different story. That’s because, when students take too long a break, they risk:
- Losing academic skills
- Forgetting information they learned during the school year
- Developing academic malaise
- Growing bored
Aristotle’s idea of the golden mean (otherwise known as the golden middle ground) can be applied to students and the breaks they incorporate into their school day or when they’re at home. The golden mean means finding a middle ground between excess and deficiency. When eating, for instance, you should neither eat too much nor too little. Similarly, when it comes to taking breaks, you should practice moderation. Without taking breaks, you might burn out, but if you take too long a break, the consequences can be equally detrimental to your academic performance.
Summer school not only incorporates more opportunities for learning, but it is structured in a way that prioritizes the students’ well-being, by providing two breaks that are long enough for them to reenergize, but not so long they risk burning out.
Schools Shut Down in the Summer for Good Reason
This may come as a surprise, but there are two reasons schools shut down in the summer, and neither of them is very relevant to modern times. In the past, schools shut down because:
- Parents wanted their children to help out with farming
- Schools were poorly ventilated and could not handle summer temperatures
Today, there are several schools operating without air conditioning while others have quality units in place to ensure students are safe and comfortable during the year’s warmer months.
Summer School is for Struggling Students Only
This may be the most common misconception about summer school. Many tend to see it as a place for students who don’t do well during the school year and not for students who, perhaps, are interested in taking a class that their home school doesn’t offer or want to get a leg up on their academics and prepare for the future.
Of course, summer school does help struggling students (more on this later), but it can also benefit high-achieving students wanting to get ahead of their peers, take a course they can’t take at their home school (i.e., their main school of registration), spend more time on a course than they could otherwise, and so on.
Students Don’t Want to Learn in the Summer
Students want time to relax and have fun in the summer, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to learn.
Students who enjoy learning throughout their regular school year are likely to enjoy the wide range of benefits that summer school can provide. Students who aren’t necessarily academically inclined during the school year may be surprised by how much they enjoy summer school because the environment and atmosphere are unique. For instance, teachers have more time to cater to different types of learners and learning styles.
What Summer School Actually Is
Whether or not summer school is right for a high school student depends on their academic situation and future goals. A high school student hoping to get into the university of their choice may be better off if, over the summer break, they work or volunteer in a field that university acceptance committees will find impressive.
That said, summer school presents the opportunity for all students, no matter their situation and goals, to catch up or get ahead in school so that, come September, they show up to class prepared to excel and with new academic skills.
Focus More on Individual Subjects
One of the downsides of taking a full course load during the school year is that doing so means you don’t have much time to focus on individual subjects, whether that may be subjects you find more difficult than others or subjects you find more fascinating.
Say you’re taking seven courses per semester. English Literature is the one you find most challenging, and MHF4U Grade 12 Advanced Functions is the one you find most interesting. Because you struggle with English, you’ll need to dedicate more of your time and attention to it than to your other classes in order to earn a high grade. Because you enjoy Advanced Functions so much, you wish you had more time to focus on it, even though you’re already earning a high grade.
Additionally, if you are planning to major in math, or a field related to math, in university it’s important to know that the more time you spend on math classes now the more prepared you’ll be to do well in math classes in university.
The unfortunate reality of attending a traditional Ontario high school during the school year is that it likely won’t grant you enough time to focus on both the English Literature and Advanced the Functions courses.
The situation would be different if you were to attend an online summer school in Ontario, where learning is more flexible and focused. Rather than taking the same number of courses you do during the regular school year, you can take one or two — this will also free up your course load the following school year.
Summer school at OES offers even more flexibility than traditional summer schools in Ontario. Summer school at traditional schools is typically four weeks long and students attend classes over the course of a half-day rather than a full day. Their course load includes fewer courses, but these courses are more condensed.
When students take online summer courses at OES, they can complete their courses at their own pace. Additionally, students can take their courses from wherever they have an internet connection, meaning they can travel with family or friends without having to miss school.
Earn Credits Faster
When Ontario students never attend summer school and only take classes at traditional brick-and-mortar schools rather than, for instance, some grade 12 online courses in Ontario, they can only earn so many credits. Yet when Ontario students take online summer courses, they can earn more credits in a shorter amount of time.
This can expedite the process of obtaining a high school diploma.
Leverage a Lifeline if You’re Struggling
One of the benefits of taking online high school courses is that it enables students to spend more time on a subject they find challenging.
Say a student finds geography difficult. When they take an online geography course in the summer, they set themselves up for performing better than they would if they took the same course during the school year. A summer course offers more time to focus, study, and work with tutors and eliminates any worry about other courses.
Virtual summer schools enable students to focus on one subject more than they can during the school year. In many ways, attending summer school is a bit like doing your final year at university.
By the time you reach your final year at a university in Canada, you’ve already selected a major and are well on your way to obtaining the number of credits you need to earn your degree. If you’re an honours student, then you’re well on your way to obtaining approximately twice as many credits in your concentration in order to graduate with an honours degree.
Say you are doing an honours degree in psychology. Your fourth year of university is your most focused year. If you’ve already completed the credits required for your minor concentration, you can spend your entire fourth year taking only courses that count toward your major or honours concentration.
Spending an increased amount of time and effort on one subject provides an opportunity to develop a deeper, richer, and more nuanced relationship with that subject than you would if you had to focus time and energy on other subjects
If you’re a secondary student enrolled in only one course at summer school—or in two courses in the same field—you make it possible to develop the type of deep relationship with that subject that university students develop with their major or honours concentration.
Another benefit of taking one or more online summer school courses in Ontario is that it enables students to upgrade high school courses online.
Enjoy a Work-Life Balance
OES offers increased flexibility that can be specifically applied to mature students or students who struggle to achieve work-life balance without compromising one or more of their responsibilities.
Raise Your GPA
If you are looking to raise your GPA in order to get accepted into the post-secondary institution of your choice, taking summer courses will give you a head start.
Taking OES upgrade courses over the summer is another way to raise your GPA.
Study Subjects Not Available at Your Home School
Summer schools may offer courses that your main school of registration does not.
The Bottom Line
Despite its many benefits, common misconceptions about summer school unfortunately remain pervasive. Plenty of people believe that summer school is for struggling students only, that students need the full summer to recharge, that schools shut down in the summer for good reason, and that students don’t want to learn in the summer.
On the contrary, summer school provides a wonderful opportunity for secondary students to boost their education, improve their academic skills, get a leg up on their peers, and get accepted into the college or university of their choice.
If you’re considering summer school, then, check out our summer school courses to learn about our wide range of subjects and academic opportunities. Our courses can be counted toward obtaining your high school diploma. Just be sure to figure out which credits you need to graduate before selecting which credits you’ll obtain through us!