A Guide to Summer Enrollments for International Students

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By Deshan Mendis
Last updated on August 10, 2023

Starting your degree in the summer can bring unique opportunities and benefits! Here is what you need to know about starting your study in the USA experience in the summer.

3 International students sitting together outside during summer

The US education system offers three admission cycles for universities and colleges — fall, spring, and summer. Fall is when the majority of students begin their degree programs, but international students may want to consider the many benefits of starting in the summer. When you start in the summer, you get a head start on your studies — and can enjoy a more relaxed environment, great weather, and more.

Choosing the right semester to begin your degree can help you adjust to the US, learn effectively, and pursue your academic goals with confidence. Read on to learn more about some of the best reasons to start your study in the USA experience in the summer! 

What Is it Like to Start College in the Summer?

When you begin your semester in the summer, you can ease into life in the US, often at a more relaxed pace. Here are just a few reasons why a summer semester might be the right option for international students like you.

Get Familiar with Your New Campus, Without the Crowds

Because most American students go home or work at off-campus jobs during the summer, campuses are typically less crowded during this season. A quieter campus gives you the chance to explore your university at a leisurely pace, meet new people, and familiarize yourself with US culture without the rush of a busy environment.

You can explore different places to eat on campus, find your favorite spot to relax, and more. You may meet other international students starting in the summer as well, giving you a head start on making friends and creating your community at university. 

Summer semesters offer a more supportive environment for international students transitioning from another country to the US: Advisors and professors may be less busy, with more availability to answer your questions and provide individualized attention. Adjusting to your new life at a slower pace can also be more effective in handling culture shock (compared to the busier spring and fall semesters).

Take Advantage of Preparatory Programs 

Many universities offer a variety of complementary programs you can take during the summer to improve your English proficiency as well as develop study skills, cultural awareness, and other best practices that set you up for success in the US university classroom and beyond. Depending on your university and degree, you may also be required to complete courses as prerequisites, and completing these subjects during a summer semester can keep your degree progress on track.

Summer classes can also reduce your course load, which can make your following semester less busy. Completing courses during the summer semester gives you additional time and space to get used to studying at a US university and adjusting to US culture.  

Another benefit of the summer semester is getting more attention from your instructors, as summer class sizes are usually smaller than other semesters. While this typically helps improve academic performance for all types of students, it may be especially helpful if you are shy or more introverted. 

Enjoy the Best Weather of the Year 

If you are more accustomed to warmer climates, summers in the US will make you feel more at home. The warm weather creates great opportunities to explore the outdoors: visit the beach with your friends, go camping in the mountains, experience whitewater rafting, and so much more.

While allowing you to ease into college life at your own pace, enrolling during the summer comes with other benefits that make your journey to the US much smoother.

Why Should You Enroll for the Summer Semester at US Universities?

As an international student applying for the summer semester, you have improved chances of enrolling at a university of your choice, speeding up your visa process, and accessing unique programs. 

Get a Better Chance of Acceptance 

Since the number of applicants for the summer semester is typically less than fall, you may have a better chance of being accepted into your dream university. This is especially beneficial if you plan to apply for programs with high fall or spring enrollments. 

Here are some of the Shorelight universities that offer competitive programs in summer:

Gonzaga University 

Located in Spokane, Washington, Gonzaga University is ranked among the best national universities in the US (U.S. News & World Report, 2022). Gonzaga offers more than 40 undergraduate programs, including engineering, business, accounting, finance, and computer science. You have the option of pursuing a specialized master’s degree in accountancy, an MBA, or TESOL when you start in summer. Applications for Gonzaga’s summer semester are open until April. 

University of Dayton 

With robust options for both undergraduate and graduate programs, the University of Dayton is a top-tier research university with a focus on entrepreneurship and engineering. You can develop your personal and professional skills as you pursue groundbreaking research, gain first-hand work experience, and enjoy life in the beautiful city of Dayton, Ohio. Applications for summer programs are open until April.

University of Illinois Chicago 

Offering undergraduate programs in engineering, business, architecture, design, education, health sciences, public health, public affairs, and more, plus an MA program in applied economics, summer courses at the University of Illinois Chicago give international students the opportunity to get a head start at one of the top public schools in the country (U.S. News & World Report). You can also experience life in the third-largest city in the US. Explore Chicago’s many museums, theaters, restaurants, and vibrant neighborhoods. Applications for the summer semester are open until April. 

University of Massachusetts Boston

With more than 60 undergraduate programs and a graduate MBA, summer at the University of Massachusetts Boston offers a variety of degrees for international students, including management, environment, and global studies. The university also has a strong alumni network, increasing your access to global career opportunities. Applications for summer programs are open until early April. 

In addition to improved chances at enrolling at your university of choice, choosing a summer semester can also speed up the process of obtaining your visa!

Get Your Visa Faster 

As an international student enrolling for the summer semester, the visa process can be smoother than in fall or spring.

In the summer, the relatively lower number of applicants and fewer applications to process means US embassies have more time to interview applicants — and may process these applications faster than their normal pace during busy times of the year. The chances of receiving your visa quickly are better in the summer, compared to enrolling in the fall or spring.

If you need support with obtaining your student visa, remember that Shorelight advisors are always ready to assist you through every step of the visa application process.

The benefits of summer semesters are not limited to on-campus opportunities — many universities in the US also offer online summer programs where you can begin your studies from the comfort of your home! 

Start Your Summer Semester Virtually 

Adjust to university life in a comfortable and familiar environment with a virtual summer start, while still accessing specialized programs to earn recognized credits towards your degree. 

Finding the right online program depends on your personal, professional, and academic goals. Consider institutes and programs that provide flexible study plans with advanced classroom technology that offers an engaging, interactive online classroom experience. For example, American Collegiate Live has classes every semester, accessible from any location, with no delays or interruptions. With the help of interactive technology, students can collaborate with lecturers and peers, much like in a traditional classroom. 

The credits you earn via American Collegiate Live are recognized at universities across the US. Professors from nationally ranked US universities teach the classes, and when you are ready to transfer, earned credits are accepted at institutions in the US and Canada.

Whether you choose to study on campus or online, summer is a great time to begin your new adventure in the US at a relaxed pace. With the support of your Shorelight advisor, you can find the right summer program that suits your unique goals!

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