Summer School or summer job?

The expectation that students will have some kind of work experience as well as a degree when they graduate has made a summer job or internship necessary for most of us. But maybe it’s worth sticking it out at uni through the summer to gain extra course credit and potentially finish early.

What better way to settle this debate than with a trusty pros and cons list! Which team are you on?

Team ‘Summer Job/Internship’


1. Taking a break from the books

When you’re doing nothing but school it’s easy to burn out. This four-month break can allow you to relax away from the books and earn cold hard cash so you can do fun things on your time off!

You can even be productive with your break and evaluate your current schooling and job goals, and clearly plan for the coming year more closely without uni distractions.

2. $$$

Let’s be honest, being a student eight months full-time can make you broke. Working full-time in the break can allow you to partially pay for tuition, contribute towards other loans or to fund your coffee and food addiction. Smashed avo anyone?

3. Gaining valuable experience to build that resume!

If you manage to land a job that lies within your interests and degree, a summer job can be as valuable as studying through the summer.

If you’re offered a job you enjoy and that you can apply your skills to while gaining new ones, then take the job! Make some money and return fresh next semester with a healthier bank account, more knowledge and a longer resume.


1. No $$$

BEWARE: If you are taking an internship, some companies offer these opportunities unpaid. If you already have a strong savings account and can financially swing an unpaid internship, the professional experience you gain might be worth it in the long run. But also make sure you’re not being exploited. Speak to Careers and Student Development to make sure you know your rights as an intern.

2. Could be a waste of time

This one’s simple; if you’re studying nursing and are spending your summers mowing lawns, how is that progressing your career? You might be prolonging getting a degree where you’ll be able to make multiple times the amount of money after graduation.

If taking the summers off means you’ll be at uni a semester longer, just think of the wages and experience you’ll have missed out with your skin melting in Australia’s scorching heat while you’re pushing that lawn mower.

Team ‘Summer Course’


1. Saving time

Here is a fun math equation for you! (I’m sorry I couldn’t help myself).

Okay so if you’re doing a four year degree, that’s eight semesters in total. By just going to Summer School you can potentially minus up to one year of that four year degree. Yep, that means you will study for a total of three years and graduate 12 months early! Keep in mind this depends on the structure of your program and the availability of relevant courses in the Summer Terms. But still, Summer School is a great way to fast track your degree or make up for a course that you missed that might have delayed your graduation.

See, I told you this equation would be fun.

2. The best of both worlds

The great thing about Summer School is that it’s divided into two terms: Compressed Summer and Long Summer. If you wanted to have a little break to start with you might then feel totally recharged and ready to take on Compressed or Long Summer. On the other hand, you could plough through either Summer Term to complete some courses and then take a break until your new year of study begins. Either way the flexibility of Summer School is a definite plus.

3. Getting a head start

While the rest of your fellow students are hitting the books, you’ll be able to get out of here way earlier and dive head first into the workforce. Result: valuable and relevant work experience in the long run.

You’ll be a year ahead of where you should be, and one rung higher on that corporate ladder, which could mean higher pay!


1. No work experience

The biggest thing going against you when all you’ve done is study is that you will have little-to-no work experience when it comes to applying for that dream job. But even if you’re working during semester at a casual job that isn’t related to your field, it still shows those soft skills that employers’ value, like time management and communication. The University’s Career and Student Development team are there to help you identify those things on your resume – so why not drop in for a 10-minute resume express visit or book a longer appointment for a career consultation.

2. Less downtime

Summer break is traditionally about relieving study anxiety and cutting loose for a while. Instead of freaking out over tests and assignments, you can catch up with friends, relax, and just let all that stress go for four months. Doing another class might mean you maintain that higher stress level. All students have to be careful of burnout, so studying all year round demands some good coping and wellbeing strategies.

After all, once you hit the working world, you don’t get a summer break anymore. Might as well live it up while you can, right?

The Bottom Line

There are a lot of things you should consider before you decide whether to take summers off to make money or join the workforce with a full degree sooner.

There’s no right answer here, the right choice is what’s best for you, I just hope this list helps you make your decision.

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