Why You Shouldn’t Overload Your Freshman Schedule

As someone who just finished their freshman year of university and has seen what kind of a nightmare scheduling can be, I thought that I would highlight the importance of NOT overdoing your first term as a college freshman. Your advisors will emphasize this, but with the effects of the ongoing pandemic and all, it’s possible that someone hasn’t yet, and scheduling your classes is something you might be doing around this time. 

Despite how many AP, honors classes, IB, dual-enrolment, or other accelerated classes you might have taken in high school, it is crucial that you allow yourself a term to “settle in” and allow yourself some breathing room. This is even further emphasized because of the nature that many college classes will be adhering to in the coming fall, a mostly online experience which students, while probably having had virtual experiences in this past winter semester, might need time to adjust to since the nature of the classes will obviously be of a higher, and thus, more difficult level. For this reason, don’t overload your schedule.

As someone who just finished their freshman year of university and has seen what kind of a nightmare scheduling can be, I thought that I would highlight the importance of NOT overdoing your first term as a college freshman. Your advisors will emphasize this, but with the effects of the ongoing pandemic and all, it’s possible that someone hasn’t yet, and scheduling your classes is something you might be doing around this time. 

A typical college schedule for a full-time student ranges from 12 to 18 credits. Anything lower typically doesn’t qualify for the status of a full-time student (which is important to have for financial aid and scholarships), while anything above that usually affects the amount of financial aid. For these reasons, it’s uncommon for students to be taking anything outside of this range, however, exceptions may occur if people are trying to catch up on credits before graduation, etc. 

Despite this range being a small one in the literal sense, 12-18 credits can mean a big difference between the number of hours you’ll spend studying. 12 credits, which is the minimum amount and might seem low, seemed like the perfect amount to me in my first semester. I had one math class, one humanities, and one English. Most of my friends were taking more, 13-14 was more common (at least in my circles).

However, despite being someone who’s always up for a challenge, I felt that anything more than 12 credits at that time would have been overwhelming. Not only did my math class far exceed the amount of time I had to study for my other classes, but anything more would have probably been overwhelming. The difficulty of the math class was something I didn’t expect, and this brings up another point regarding why you shouldn’t overload your schedule: the rigor of university classes might definitely be unexpected, regardless of the experience you might have in your accelerated classes. I took classes at a community college and thought it would help prepare me, and while it did, I was still in for some surprises. Taking a lighter load can help ease you into the process, rather than jumping headfirst.

However, requirements for your major will usually mean that you can’t spend four years taking 12-credit load semesters. You will definitely need to increase this amount in order to graduate on time, but the reason I emphasize avoiding overdoing it your first semester is because you’ll be adjusting to a multitude of other factors that surround first semesters.

It’s important that you take time and find a balance while schedule making, ample studying time while also having time to adjust to social factors as well. This doesn’t mean that you should take 12 credits, but only a suggestion based on the classes you’ll be taking and your priorities. If you’re taking multiple STEM classes, maybe stay around the lower range, because STEM classes can have overlapping exams and varying levels of difficulty that you might not be used to, while non-STEM classes can possibly be more suited to having heavier semesters – sometimes these classes opt-out of traditional exams and offer other options that might seem less stressful, like essays or projects. 

Good luck with your scheduling endeavors!

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