Summer is a time for relaxing, hanging out with friends and completing required summer reading. However, some students embark on the mission of taking a summer course at Austin Community College through their Early College Student (ECS) program. ECS supports students who are in high school (and reside within the Austin Community College District) to get a head start on their college education by authorizing them to enroll in up to 12 total classes throughout the summer, fall, and spring semesters, allowing the student to potentially earn 36 college credit hours.
The most common class that ARS students take through the ECS program is government, which opens up a class period in the spring of senior year and gives the opportunity to gain a transferable credit. In 2016, 16 students took Government 2305, one student took Economics 2301, two students took Psychology 2301, and one student took Sociology 1301. Currently, 12 students have enrolled in Government 2305 this upcoming summer, and three in Economics 2301.
One of the most appealing aspects of taking a class at Austin Community College over the summer is the ability to pick when and where. You can choose the length of your class ranging from a 5 week course that meets every day to an 11 week course that meets twice a week. There are 6 week courses that offered as well that start either at the beginning of the summer, or towards the end. The best part about choosing these courses is that you can pick from 11 different campuses to find the class time, course length and location that best suits you.
One tricky thing with all summer classes is the amount of information that teachers have to cram into a five week course. Classes during the fall and spring semesters can last from 8-16 weeks, and teaching the material in a fraction of that time means that the class will move quickly. Many professors have office hours before and after class and are willing to help you if you ask.
Now the big question: how much is it going to cost me? The Early College Start program allows for classes (One class itself is typically 3 hours) to be taken with a waived fee for the student. One three hour credit class costs, on the 2017-2017 tuition average, $170 dollars. At the University of Texas at Austin, three college credit hours at the College of Natural Sciences costs $2,059. Taking two courses per summer after your sophomore year of high school can result in a total of 12 college credit hours earned, saving you $8.236. The only cost that students in the ECS program have to worry about is books and parking if you drive, however, you can rent books on Amazon or Chegg for a fraction of renting the book at the ACC bookstore.
Taking a class at Austin Community College sounds like a lot of work, but in the end, it’s worth it. Save yourself as much money as you can, and good luck.