Written by Jade Liu
Berkeley Summer Sessions offers a variety of classes that are the exact equivalent of their regular semester counterparts. Go to the Online Schedule of Classes to see the course offerings. For continuing Berkeley students, registration begins via tele-BEARS on February 4th. Before you register, you need to be very certain that you will attend. There is a $100 non-refundable fee if you cancel. Most of the information about Berkeley Summer Sessions can be found on their website at http://summer.berkeley.edu/. Summer courses are divided into different sessions. Course add/drop deadlines differ according to the session in which you plan to enroll.
Community college courses and courses from other universities can be used to meet degree requirements if you wish to stay close to home. No special permission is needed for summer. Just enroll in the classes you want to take and submit your transcripts to the admissions office afterwards. For California community colleges, use assist.org to check if it meets the requirement you want it to satisfy. Be sure to select for the requirement, NOT for the course itself. For other schools, verify with the admissions office for transferability and with the respective office for the specific requirement.
Online courses are offered on many campuses. To find them, search specifically for online courses (under summer courses) on the institution's website. As a general rule, if the numbering is exactly the same as the classroom equivalent, then the courses will satisfy the same requirements and you can use the aforementioned methods to check. This applies to pretty much any school. For Berkeley Summer Sessions in particular, there are nine online courses offered Summer 2013. The course description, syllabus, course schedule, and orientation document are already posted on their website:http://summer.berkeley.edu/courses/online. I'd recommend looking those over before committing. At Berkeley, the W simply stands for web-based and doesn't affect the course content. Therefore, they will satisfy the same requirements. Courses marked with an N are not fully equivalent to their regular counterparts. However, many (such as Chem N3AL) do fulfill the same requirements.
UC Berkeley Extension usually also offers online courses. Those marked with an XB are considered equivalents. Others are not. I don't really expect many of you to consider these, but for the record, here's the site: http://extension.berkeley.edu/undergrad/index.html#online
I've done THREE summer sessions at Berkeley, and I've really enjoyed them. You get to spend more time on each course instead of dividing up your time to cope with a gazillion classes. It's a great way to get requirements out of the way. The class sizes are also smaller, and most importantly, summer courses have no course restrictions or tele-BEARS appointments, so if you decide early on that you want to take certain classes, you pretty much won't have to deal with waitlists. Negative aspects? Well, you'd have to stay at Berkeley during the summer, the classes do move a lot faster, and a lot of summer classes are taught by grad students, recent PhD's, and visiting professors. It's super annoying when you take a ton of summer classes and realize down the road that there's no one qualified to provide you a letter of recommendation. Also, you pay by the unit. Decide for yourself whether that's a good or bad thing.
Community colleges are a LOT cheaper, but I personally find Berkeley classes more invigorating and fun. Plus, if you're looking for a GPA boost, community college classes won't count.I haven't taken online classes except for a GRE prep course through Kaplan, but I've had classes that were very web-based. Basically, if you're on top of things, are good at managing your time, need to get some requirements out of the way, and cannot take classroom courses for whatever reason, online courses can be great. But if you have procrastination issues or are do not tend to be extremely thorough with individual work, then you might find them difficult. It's nothing new. Just make the call. I personally find classroom courses much more enjoyable. You learn just by being there and interacting with your profesor and classmates. It actually cuts down on your study time because (for me at least) being in class doesn't feel like work, but trying to read on your own can be tedious.