Get a jump on credits, hone professional skills or pursue a new passion.

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Summer in Seattle is boundless with possibility. Opportunities to learn, grow and experience new things are all around us. And while the allure of paddleboard lessons on Lake Washington is an obvious option, the idea of returning to school for the summer may not be the first idea that pops into your head. But maybe it should.

Summer classes are a perfect opportunity for high school students eager to earn college credit to get a head start. Already a college student? Knock out a prereq or catch up on credits. International students visiting Seattle can immerse themselves in the academic life. And for working adults who want to hone their professional skills or expand their horizons, summer offers many options.

Whatever your goals, there’s no shortage of topics to whet your intellectual appetite. You might study African-American history or bone up on the ancient Romans. Follow the sagas of the Vikings or learn entrepreneurism. Tackle architecture or delve into digital cities. Explore sculpting, study film theory, dive into marine biology.

At the University of Washington, UW Summer Quarter throws opens the doors to all comers. A special open enrollment policy means that anyone – enrolled student or not – can take a class at UW during the summer. UW Summer Quarter offers almost 2,000 classes in more than 100 fields of study – both on-campus and online.

UW Summer Quarter also offers in-depth options that extend beyond a single class. This summer, those include two certificate courses: Business Essentials of Tribal Gaming and Hospitality Management, and Database Management. Taught by industry professionals, these résumé-boosting certificates offer the chance build your skills while earning full-fledged UW credit.

If languages are more to your liking, UW Summer Quarter has you covered with its renowned Intensive Foreign Language Courses. Whether you aspire to travel overseas or complete a foreign language requirement, these classes pack a year’s worth of learning into nine weeks of study. Professors and instructors teach a wide variety of different languages, from Chinese to Modern Greek, Swahili to Spanish.

The intensive format “creates a better learning community,” says Professor Ana González Doboa, who directs the Spanish language program at UW. Spanish intensive students attend classes three hours a day, five days a week – and are expected to spend another three hours a day on homework. That demanding schedule promotes faster progress than traditionally paced courses, says Doboa. Students also benefit from smaller class sizes and exposure to teachers who hail from Spain, Mexico, Chile, Peru and beyond.

Longtime Seattle resident Janet Oliver studied Spanish during UW Summer Quarter with Professor Jorge González Casanova. Oliver had no travel plans when she first enrolled: “I live in a Spanish-speaking country!” she says. She chatted in Spanish with fellow Metro riders and admits to getting a kick out of eavesdropping. With several classes under her belt, she eventually took her skills farther afield, traveling to Oaxaca and Mexico City. “It’s really made it fun,” says Oliver of the UW Summer Quarter intensive language classes. “I get so many compliments from people who speak Spanish.”

As with the Spanish intensives, summer classes tend to be smaller than those held during the regular academic year. When post-baccalaureate student Ann Stafford needed to complete a degree requirement for her oceanography major last summer, she enrolled in a 200-level calculus class. During other quarters, she says her classes tended to number around 40 students. But in UW Summer Quarter, the class size dropped to 25.

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to study this topic in a concentrated, intensive way,” says Stafford. “It allowed me to get to know my classmates better than if we were in the normal school year.” Following class each morning, she hit the books with fellow students and then biked home via the Burke-Gilman trail.

Whether you’re a working adult seeking inspiration or a career boost; a high school student looking for a leg up; or a current undergrad with degree requirements to complete, summer is the ideal time to take a class.

Registration for UW Summer Quarter opens April 12. Get all the details at