Taken by Minakshi Shivananda
Point Counterpoint: Online Summer Courses
May 11, 2020
With course registration drawing to a close, many students pursue the option of taking courses over the summer as a means of getting ahead in coursework. While this method of education can be very beneficial to the student and their GPA, it also has a few drawbacks. The following are two perspectives on whether or not online summer courses are really worth it.
The Silver Lining of Online Summer Classes
The sun is shining extra bright on this extra special day. A surge of pupils exit another year of high school with a face filled with pleasure, relieved of weekly assignments, tests, and projects. However, some motivated students maintain this state of mind for a short-lived week.
In this day and age, Forsyth County students are utilizing online courses over the summer with the help of Georgia Virtual School (GAVS) and the favored Forsyth Virtual Academy(FVA). Numerous students predispose that summer courses are stressful and time-consuming. However, an online summer course on the two websites lasts a total of 5 to 6 weeks, with extensive help from teachers at most hours of the day. The workload is also not demanding, although GAVS and FVA suggest that a student should plan on spending 3 to 5 hours for a 6-week-course, or 5 to 7 hours for a 5-week-course. Most students turn out spending 2-3 hours or less to finish the daily assignments.
Taking online classes over the summer is actually beneficial to a high school student, because it helps teens stay in the “study mode” and helps them transition into school easier than a student that didn’t take a summer course. Many kids have a hard time adjusting to the workload after returning to school from an 8 week break, but kids who have taken a course over the summer usually do not have a problem and may receive satisfactory grades compared to their peers. This visibly proves to be advantageous for the average high school student to succeed in school, especially during a time when exceptional grades are key in determining one’s grade in a class for the rest of the fall semester and possibly the spring semester.
Online classes can also be rewarding when applying to colleges because they exhibit rigor. Colleges do not want to see students that achieve the bare minimum, they want to see students that step out of their comfort zone and push themselves. Doing this also proves that rigorous students can manage the workload in college. Although taking an online class over the summer may not be the same as taking an AP class, it is evident that a student has to have commitment and diligence to sacrifice their summer to get ahead in school. Additionally, a student would have approximately 5-6 weeks to complete an on-level course.
The majority of college students in this generation have begun taking classes at schools near their own hometown. For example, Georgians that may be attending an out-of-state school may look into taking a class at Georgia State University that could transfer into their school. Students that have been exposed to summer online classes as an adolescent may be successful in a college summer class. Taking an online class is a worthwhile experience that has many benefits that can help sculpt one’s future.
Online Classes over the summer aren’t worth the hype
Virtual learning has taken over with the recent events happening in the world, and students have the option to continue on through registration for virtual courses over the summer. Students can register for these courses through Georgia Virtual School (GAVS) or Forsyth Virtual Academy (FVA), and essentially get an opportunity to get a required course “out of the way” and take courses that they care more about during the actual school year. While this sounds amazing in theory, the practical application of this leaves a lot to be desired.
Online classes tend to cost lots of money, in addition to any other fees like the cost of AP Exams or other review materials students need to buy. According to the GAVS website, the cost of a full-year high school course is around $500, which is only covered by schools if it is “part of the student’s regular school day,” so not including the summer. This isn’t much better in Forsyth Virtual Academy; the cost of a full credit course is only five dollars cheaper here. This creates an uneven playing field; students who can afford the cost of such courses may be able to get a lot of required online courses done over the summer and then take many APs during the school year, boosting their GPA. However, what about the students who cannot afford those costs? Money shouldn’t be a factor in whether a student can take a course or not, yet online summer classes make it one.
In addition, there is also the factor of paying this much money and not getting the full amount of education and knowledge the course can offer. These courses are extremely shortened; the fall and spring courses are up to 18 weeks long, yet the summer courses are only 5-6 weeks long. Taking a class that is supposed to be a year long and condensing it into a few weeks means losing the nuance of education, and not learning the essential materials needed for that course and any future courses that depend on the information in that course. GAVS says that “The shorter course lengths do not have condensed content. All of the same content is covered but at a faster pace,” yet how fast-paced is it? A single school year is around 36 weeks, so a GAVS course would have to go 6 times the pace of a normal school course in order to get all the information. Surely learning can’t happen at that fast a pace?
One of the biggest arguments for online summer courses is that they continue learning throughout the summer so you don’t lose the feeling of hard work and responsibility. However, there are many different ways to continue learning throughout the summer such as reading or studying for the ACT and SAT. Spending hundreds of dollars on an online course doesn’t seem worth it, especially when the learning is so crammed.
It makes sense to want to take some classes online over the summer, such as Health or to complete a pathway. However, when there is an option, taking classes in school over the school year seems to be the best for both the wallet, other students, and the students’ own education.