College semesters are about 15 weeks long. Most fall semesters begin in September and end in December. Spring semester begins in January and ends in April. This means that in the “normal” academic year, students are in classes for approximately six months. (The typical classroom is used about 40 percent of the time in a year.) What about the other six months? What about a third semester that begins in June and ends in August?
I want to stress that you should aim to graduate in four years, not five or six. If that means taking classes in the summer and taking 15 credits each semester, you should do it. You can also consider taking online courses in the summer so you still can work, complete an internship, travel with your family, or participate in a community service program.
In some cases, technology has made the two-semester academic year a relic. The Ohio State University, for example, allows students to take up to three credit hours for no cost during the university’s four-week May session. Beginning in 2014, the University of Iowa will allow entering students to take summer classes for free.
You can create your own third semester if your school does not have one.