Students choose between rigor or low tuition costs when it comes to summer course

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Photo Credit: Mingyo Lee | Daily Texan Staff

With summer right around the corner, students must decide if they want to take summer courses at a four-year university like UT or at a community college like Austin Community College.

Depending on the school, summer classes can range from $1,200 to more than $1,400 per hour, according to the UT Tuition website. According to the ACC website, summer classes cost $50 per hour. Aerospace engineering junior Caroline O’Neal has taken summer classes at both UT and at a community college and said value is a huge benefit of community college courses.

“For bang for your buck it’s more community college over UT, in my opinion,” O’Neal said. “When you get that diploma, it says, ‘UT,’ not, ‘Also classes taken at this community college.’ And at the end of the day you’re getting a degree from UT but not paying as much for those summer classes.”

Joey Williams, director of communications, said there are many advantages to taking summer classes at UT, and students can only take their first-year signature course on campus.

“We encourage students to take the courses that they can at UT to make sure that you’re taking classes with a really high level of rigor so you really get the benefit of going to a really high-level university like UT,” Williams said.

Psychology freshman Ericka Nerisla said she is taking summer classes at UT because she got accepted into UT, not a community college, so she believes she should take the rigorous classes to prepare herself.

“I definitely think you get what you pay for, and I definitely want to take advantage of my resources here,” Nerisla said. “If I’m going to a university that is known for a subject, I want to be able to see what they have to offer.”

Gaye Lynn Scott, ACC associate vice president of academic transfer programs, said one of the reasons ACC has such a low price is they are supported by the state and local taxpayers.

“ACC is a great bargain,” Scott said. “We are very proud of our faculty members, our curriculum and the engagement and rigor, but we do it at a price that really beats out a lot of other schools around the state.”

Scott said the largest class ACC offers has 36 students, which allows for a more engaging and personalized classroom experience.

“As a faculty member, the community college classroom is the most engaging place to be,” Scott said. “You have students from all ages and all perspectives. I’ve seen a lot of four-year students who come to ACC in the summer and they almost rediscover the joy of learning.”

O’Neal said she sees the academic benefit of summer classes at UT and the financial benefit of classes at a community college like ACC, but having the option to do both is very helpful to students.

“I think (community college) is extremely important because there is another option that is not as pricey,” O’Neal said. “There’s no shame in it. It definitely helps once you graduate with having less debt and starting a new job.”