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Summer school doesn’t have to be traditional

Because people have other things they want -- or need -- to do in summerbesides attend class, most schools offer a variety of ways to takesummer courses.

Because people have other things they want -- or need -- to do in summer besides attend class, most schools offer a variety of ways to take summer courses. "Summer is not part of the traditional school calendar," says Margi Wallace, director of the Center for Summer Learning at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania. "But there's been a real paradigm shift to going to school year-round. Whether you want to catch up, stay on track or get ahead, ta-king a summer course may be the answer."

There are a variety of options:

Accelerated classes

Accelerated classes are in-person classes that complete a semester's worth of material in seven weeks, meeting either more days per week or more hours per class. Most schools offer two or three summer terms. If you start a course in May, you can be done by the end of June, and still have two months of summer for working or travel.

Web-based

Online classes enable you to head down to the shore for the summer and still take a class. With online classes, you can do your schoolwork at midnight or at noon, whatever works for your schedule.

Hybrid sessions

Hybrid classes combine in-person sessions -- usually at the beginning of the term -- with online assignments. If you've never taken an online course, Wallace recommends starting out with a hybrid. "Online requires a lot of discipline, even more so in a seven-week term," he says. "Hybrid courses offer both convenience and structure."