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The Ultimate Guide To Choosing An Online Summer Course

Welcome to the ultimate guide to choosing an online summer course - and what better place to learn about this topic than online? But, is online also the best place to experience an academic summer course? Join us to learn more and decide for yourself.

Historically summer has been a time to unwind and take a break from required classes and the pressure of exams. Many students are now using this time to take on a fresh academic challenge with a summer course. Summer courses helps students explore new interests, make new friends, gain valuable skills, and expand their knowledge beyond the traditional classroom setting. These experiences provide a useful complement to traditional K-12 education, and at the same time can help students to both get ahead academically and find greater clarity on their ideal future profession. When students cannot attend their chosen summer school in-person, a great option is to join an online summer course instead.

What is an Online Summer Course?

An online summer course is a virtual class accessed through the internet that you can take over your summer vacation. Some online summer school courses adopt a hybrid format, where they may combine in-person classes with online class elements as well.

An online summer course can be taken for a variety of reasons, including to experience a new subject, to get a head start in a subject area, to learn more about potential career and college major options, to keep your academic momentum and prevent summer learning loss, or to remediate subjects that you might need a little extra help in. Online summer schools provide an alternative to traditional education that can be just as much fun, and as enriching as an in-person course.

However, there is a great variety of online courses to choose from worldwide, all offering a diverse range of subject areas. Like any other academic activity, it is important to choose the right online summer course if you want a productive and enjoyable experience. But with so many summer programs to choose from, what factors should you consider when narrowing down the field?

We have created this guide to answer this question and help you choose the best online summer course for you. We’ll discuss the benefits of online summer courses and the factors to consider when making your decision. By the end of this guide, you will have everything you need to make an informed choice on why you should join an online course and which program would be best for you. So get ready for a successful summer of online learning!

Benefits of Online Summer Courses

So why choose an online summer course in the first place, and how do they compare to a traditional in-person summer school?


One of the benefits that online summer courses have to offer is flexibility. An online summer course allows you to study from anywhere in the world, including at home, when traveling, or even at the beach while otherwise on vacation. All you will need is a computer with a webcam and an internet connection.


An online summer course is convenient because in a virtual environment you do not need to travel to and from your classroom. This also means that you can more easily take on two or more classes in different subjects at once. Moreover, if the course is recorded, you can fit the classes into whatever schedule best fits you, and engage with the coursework at your own pace. This added convenience also makes online courses particularly attractive to students with summer jobs or those trying to balance academics with other life responsibilities.

College Applications

If you have your eyes set on a prestigious college, one way to increase your chance of admission is by taking an online summer course. Top tier colleges have become highly competitive and they will scrutinize each element of your application through what is called ‘holistic reading’: meaning that there is not one single element that is going to guarantee admission. Rather your transcript, extracurricular activities, personal essay, letters of recommendation, and standardized test scores are judged as an entire package. So while a high GPA, rigorous course choices, and solid SAT and ACT scores may make you competitive, more will generally be required to secure admission to an elite institution.

So what should you do to set yourself apart from the multitude of valedictorians, star basketball players, musical prodigies and class presidents applying to the same college as you? One way to show the admissions committee your initiative and dedication to your studies is to take on an online summer course. In fact, according to a report referenced by the UK’s Guardian Newspaper, attending a summer school program increases your likelihood of being accepted to a prestigious college by 21%. By joining an online summer course, you are showing universities that you are willing and able to go beyond the standard school curriculum to secure your academic and professional future, while many of your peers are simply letting their summers pass them by. This proactive stance sets you apart and can help cast your other accomplishments in an even more positive light.

International Perspectives

An advantage of online summer courses is that students are not limited by their physical location. Anyone from anywhere in the world can take part in an online summer course. As a student, interacting with such a diverse group will expose you to new and exciting cultures and help you build an international network of friends and colleagues.

Diversity of Course Offerings

In a virtual environment you will have access to a far greater variety of classes. Online summer schools can offer more courses in different subject areas than traditional summer schools can. This is because they are not constrained by the physical limitations of classroom space and can readily recruit students interested in a niche topic from the widest possible population.

As a student this course diversity offers you more options to explore and choose from topics outside the regular school curriculum, and to better customize your summer education plans to align with your interests and goals. Therefore when it comes to choosing an online summer program, if you haven’t yet found what you would consider to be your perfect course, it is useful to keep looking a bit longer than you might for an in-person offering, because it is likely that an even more suitable option is out there.

Cost Effectiveness

With an online summer course you can enjoy all the benefits of an in-person course while saving time and money which would be otherwise spent on commutes and paying for catered meals, dorm room accommodation, and professional supervision. Of course, the cost of an online summer course can still represent a significant investment. Students with financial constraints should know that some courses even offer a very limited number of student bursaries, but these are few and far between. You should be sure to research carefully and consider a number of different factors before you make your final choice.

Tips for Finding the Best Online Summer Courses

Start Your Search Early

It is advisable to start your search for online summer courses well before summer begins, as this gives you ample time to research and compare courses. Some courses may even have limited places so you may need to book early. This will help you find a program that aligns with your academic goals, fits your schedule and offers quality instruction to maximize your summer learning experience.

Consider Your Academic Goals

When choosing an online summer course, it is essential to consider your goals. Take into consideration how the course level and subject matter align with your current level and long-term academic and career aspirations. This way, you will find a course that engages and challenges you and provides the necessary knowledge, skills and connections to help you succeed professionally.

Course Materials

Different courses have different course material requirements. They may be in the form of textbooks, software, or equipment. Research the materials required in a given course and ensure you will have access to them before your course begins. You can buy the course materials or rent them if you are on a tight budget. Securing the course materials in advance helps you stay organized and prepared throughout your course.

Interactive Learning

Interactive elements help improve your online learning experience by promoting student engagement and collaboration. These components also equip you with practical skills and knowledge that will prove valuable in your academic and professional pursuits. Therefore, look for online courses which offer interactive elements such as scheduled discussions, group work projects, class debates and virtual labs.

Student Support Services

Ensure you enroll in an online academic course offering adequate student support services. These services can include academic advising, tutoring, and technical support. Choosing an online school that offers these services can make a significant difference in your learning experience. This is because the services provide the support and assistance you need to navigate your online studies, overcome challenges, and complete your course successfully.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Online Summer Course

College Admissions

College admissions counselors regularly advise applicants that top universities are selecting students, among other criteria, on the extent to which they have demonstrated a sincere curiosity in understanding their world and a proactive stance towards their learning. This means that while enrolling in just about any summer course will demonstrate these qualities to a certain degree, the more that you can show deliberate choices around what you decided to study and how the course fits into your broader academic, personal, and professional goals, the better.

Furthermore, check to see how your online summer course might improve admissions chances in other ways. For instance, check whether, as a feature of your program, your instructors will write a personal letter of recommendation you can use for college admissions applications, and if the summer school will upload this for you into the CommonApp, or send it individually to schools as needed. These letters of application can also be useful for high school and middle school admissions applications as well.

Naturally, also note the credentials of the instructors writing these recommendations on your summer course, as the better their credentials, the more favorably colleges will view their letters in your application. On the same token, you will also need to verify whether the instructor will indeed write and sign your letter of recommendation personally, or whether the summer school itself will issue it. In all cases, it is better if the letter of recommendation comes directly from your instructor, as your instructor will know you best, and this shows greater interest and investment in your future on their part.

Student Reviews

Researching what current and former students have to say about an online course is important. It will give you valuable insight into the course structure, difficulty level, and overall learning experience. It will also provide insight into the quality of instruction and the instructor’s teaching style and approach.

Look for reviews on trustworthy and reputable sites to get unbiased information - and check across multiple platforms, not just one. Start with the course provider’s website, then head to Google reviews and other independent review sites. Look for patterns and recurring themes in the reviews to get a more accurate representation of the course. You may also get advice on the best study techniques to help you succeed in the course while going through the reviews.

Course Content

Choosing an online summer course with the right content will help you stay engaged. The best way to ensure that you choose a course with the best content is by first outlining your interests and academic and career goals. Doing this allows you to examine a course description and syllabus and quickly determine if it aligns with your interests and will help you achieve your goals.

Course Instructors

An online summer course will also provide you with better access to some of the world’s best instructors and world-leading experts in their fields. Indeed, it may not be possible to have access to as high a caliber of instructor as you can get online, because being in higher demand generally, they too can participate online more readily than in-person. Not only do better instructors lead to better learning outcomes and a more enjoyable experience, but if you are planning on having your summer school instructor write a letter of recommendation for competitive college applications, then better instructor credentials are a valuable assets.

So if you are choosing an online summer course, be sure to look into who your instructor will be on the course, and their qualifications. If a given summer school can’t provide a definitive answer to this question, you may consider looking elsewhere.

Course Syllabus

Investigate what assignments and assessment methods are utilized in the online summer course. You might ask whether the instructor assigns homework, what types of assignments are required to complete the

course and how many of them are there. Also consider the time you will be given to complete assignments as well as the course duration. Will you have sufficient time to complete the coursework that is expected of you? How many hours of the day are you expected to be mentally focused and present in class? Is the course administered over the course of a few days or weeks, and if the latter, will you have any days off in-between? These questions will help you assess how well you are likely to perform on your course, and to plan how to properly balance it along with any other summer activities you might have.

Course Level

Choosing an online summer course at your correct level will help you stay interested and challenged. You must have the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to understand and integrate the new material on the course, otherwise you will struggle, leading to frustration and feeling overwhelmed. On the other hand, an excessively easy course will also not provide good educational value or be useful to discuss on college applications if it is not challenging enough.

Therefore, to avoid disappointment, make sure you find a course of an appropriate level, or even better, find out if your summer school can transfer you to a higher or lower level class free of charge if the course you selected does not suit you.

Course Grades

If you are on an academic summer course it’s important to find out whether student performance will be assessed, and if so, how. Is this something you are comfortable with? If so, particularly if you are trying to get into a top tier college such as an Ivy League university in the US or Oxford or Cambridge in the UK, be sure you are adequately prepared to perform to your best ability. This will ensure that you are able to get a strong letter of recommendation from your instructor, should you desire it, and allow you to talk more positively about this experience in your college essays or interviews.

Language Requirements

This is an essential factor to consider when taking a course offered in a different language. Make sure that you meet the minimum language requirements for the course. Keep in mind that it is generally the case that a higher level of language proficiency is required to best participate in an online as opposed to in-person course because there is less context to grasp new material, and instructors in this setting cannot as readily tell when students don’t understand. The exception to this rule is when the online course is recorded. In this case, a student with marginal language ability will be able to go back and revise course content they haven’t understood completely, which may make an online course even more effective than an in-person one.

Meeting language requirements will also ensure that you can participate in class discussions and satisfactorily complete any assignments or exams. Adhering to the requirements allows you to make the most of your online summer course without feeling confused or out of place.

Synchronous or Asynchronous?

Is your online summer course conducted in real-time (i.e. synchronous) or is it just a replay of a recording (i.e. asynchronous)? Do you have opportunities to interact live with your instructor and classmates? If the course is conducted live, does the program offer recordings of your online classes in case you missed a crucial point in the lecture or want to go back later to revise an important idea? If so, for how long will these recordings be made available to you? You must carefully think about your schedule and time constraints, as well as how you learn best, before making your decision.

Time Zones and Schedule

While the flexibility and convenience of accessing an online course is great, if your course takes place synchronously it is important to double check your time zone with the course schedule. Will the course take place at a time that will make it possible for you to attend? If so, will these timings also be conducive to your learning? On the other hand, if not, are you willing to alter your normal schedule to make it work, and/or does the course offer recordings of the live sessions for you to follow at a time that would suit you better?


Although a benefit of online courses is their flexibility, this can be challenging in other ways. For instance, studying online inherently comes with a lot more freedom than traditional school. And with this freedom comes added responsibility because you will have more personal control over how you spend your time. Where in an in-person summer school you may have supervised set study times that do not allow other activities, when you are studying alone online you will have a greater opportunity to potentially become distracted and procrastinate. So if you are not consistently self-motivated and disciplined, you may have trouble completing your course to a high standard and getting as much out of it as you could.


One of the benefits of an online summer course for a parent is that your child will be able to stay at home under parental supervision. Furthermore, if your child has a medical emergency, they will be closer to family members and health professionals familiar with their medical history, and depending on the summer camp may be closer to medical facilities.

When sending a child away to an in-person summer camp there are certain risks that should be considered, including risks to their person and property from other campers, counselors, and while travelling. Although there are no such concerns with a virtual course, there may still be issues with the appropriateness of staff behavior and the privacy of family data after the course finishes. So you may wish to investigate the protocols that a summer school has in place to deal with these potential issues.

Assess Value

Even though online academic courses may be cheaper than a comparable in-person class, they can still be a significant investment, so you should be sure to do your research. Aside from the standard tuition fee, you may also encounter other associated costs associated with the program such as purchasing textbooks, course materials, or software.

Of course, you must also weigh the benefits of the program in relation to its price. Usually, the more expensive the course, the more benefits it will provide, such as assistance with college applications, one-on-one tutorials, a letter of recommendation from your instructor, provision of pre-course and post-course learning resources, recorded classes for future review, and invitations to exclusive interviews and talks. Depending on specifics, a more expensive course can represent a better value overall than a cheaper one. But do ensure that any additional benefits provided by your chosen course are things that you actually value.


Although the process of looking for an online summer school can seem like a Herculean task, a little knowledge can go a long way. We hope that this guide has helped provide additional insight into the factors you should consider when selecting an online summer course. These include course content and level, the time zones and schedule, the cost, language requirements, and student reviews.

To find the best online summer course for you, start your search early, and research the course materials needed. Additionally, look for online classes with interactive components and those that offer student support services. We have also discussed the benefits of choosing an online summer course over a traditional in-person school. Some of these benefits are flexibility, the ability to revise recorded classes, and a diverse portfolio of courses. With these tips and guidelines, you can confidently choose an online summer course to help you advance your education and enhance your skills. So don't wait any longer; take the next step and enroll in an online summer course today!

If you wish to join a World Scholars Academy program, we would be happy to welcome you. Learn more about our courses here, and if you have any questions, be sure to reach out; we will gladly help!

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