Summer is also a great time to take a class to improve your business and professional skills. Many of Columbus' colleges offer summer courses for adults, where you can learn everything from French to fencing. It's a great way to meet new people and learn skills that you may not have time to study during the hustle and bustle of fall and winter.
While many schools offer individual courses, others provide the opportunity to begin earning your degree during the summer. Students often find it easiest to enroll before the fall rush begins, easing into their area of study before the days get shorter and busier.
Because summer is often a popular vacation season, summer school may not have been an option for adults in years past. However, many colleges now offer ways to combine in-class and online learning, making it possible to conduct your coursework over the Internet.
Rather than reading your popular fiction paperback at the beach, you could log onto your laptop and begin working your way through your business degree. Or, after you've sputtered through the Grand Canyon in your family's minivan, you can log on for a quick economics or finance lesson in your hotel room.
Summer courses may not be for everyone. However, many universities today offer concentrated courses that meet just one night a week, leaving you with six other nights to enjoy an ice-cream cone with your children or the late-night ballgame on TV.
So, why should you begin your education this summer? Here are just a few of the tangible benefits.
* Knowledge you can apply on the job. At many of today's forward-thinking universities, you'll do more than just study theories. You'll focus on how they are applied in the real world. Students are encouraged to discuss problems that instructors and classmates face in their jobs, often presenting solutions that can be tested on the job the following day.
* Networking. Because classes for today's working adults are typically filled with professionals, summer courses are a great way to boost your networking skills. Chances are you'll meet classmates from a wide range of industries with a common goal of self-improvement through education.
* Career advancement. Studies continue to show that higher degrees equal higher paychecks. New information from the U.S. Census Bureau reinforces the value of a college education.
Workers 18 and over with a high school diploma earn $27,915, while those with a bachelor's degree earn almost double -- an average of $51,206 a year. Workers with an advanced degree do even better, making an average of $74,602.
In a competitive job market, employers are searching for characteristics that set you apart from other applicants for hire or for a promotion. A higher degree is a great way to make that distinction.
So, as you listen to the sounds of summer in your neighborhood -- kids playing a late evening game of tag and crickets beginning their nightly serenade -- think about spending one evening a week investing in your future by earning a bachelor's or master's degree. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will accomplish your goal, and the sooner you can take advantage of the opportunities an advanced degree may afford you.
Why wait? It may be your best summer yet.
Eric Ziehlke is campus director for University of Phoenix-Columbus Campus. University of Phoenix is the nation's largest private university, with over 230,000 students at more than 150 campuses in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico. Reach him at (614) 433-0095 or Eric.Ziehlke@phoenix.edu.