I get it all the time. I tell people I’m taking 18 credit hours every semester, and I get a look of surprise, fear, or even pity. It’s usually followed by “Oh I could never do that!” or “Wow, how do you have any time left?” I’ve told people before and I’ll say it again as often as I need to, but taking 18 credits is not really all that bad. It’s more time management than time consuming. I know a lot of the connotation of 18 credits every semester is that you’re up at the crack of dawn and not getting back to your room or house until late at night. I assure you that’s not the case.
Before I continue, I should probably explain “18 credits” for people who may not understand that way we can all be on the same page. In college, classes are divided up and numbered based on how long you are in the classroom a week, to the nearest hour. There’s no such thing as a class worth 2.5 credits. That would be a 3-credit class. To be considered a full-time student, someone has to take at least 12 credits a semester. Indiana has a program that it is recommended to take 15 credits a semester to graduate in 4 years. 18 credits is the most you can take without having to pay extra semester.
Okay, now that we’re all in the same understanding, I can continue. Again, people think that 18 credits is up at the crack of dawn with no break until late at night. For me, that is definitely not the case. 18 credits usually translates to about 6-7 classes a semester, depending on which classes you take. Do you want to know when my latest class has gotten out? 3:15. That is no later than high school. Do you want to know when the earliest class I’ve ever had started? 9:00 A.M. This semester, my first class on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays starts at 10:00 A.M. But I am done by noon! That gives me about 4.5 hours (assuming I have to work) to myself to do whatever I want. Tuesdays and Thursdays are a little more tight. My last class gets done at 3:15, but I either have History Club on Tuesdays or I usually have to work on Thursdays, which only offers me about an hour (2.5 hours on Tuesdays). So again, I’m not done at an unreasonable time. I don’t have any 8 A.M.s and I don’t have any classes late in the night.
Again, it’s a lot more about time management than anything. Even though I’m taking 18 credit hours, I still have enough room to work 12 hours a week over three nights. I am also Vice President of History Club, and I’m there every week. I use my free time and weekends well. I know so many people that put off doing homework and then they get buried under projects and stress out. While I do that some, I combat that by pinning up my syllabi so I can see them, writing a weekly to-do list with deadlines, and doing my best to knock out assignments first thing. I’ve never turned in an assignment late, and I’ve never had to pull an all-nighter.
College has taught me that if you don’t manage your stress, then it will manage you. By this I mean that I know people who get overwhelmed by school all the time. While I do somewhat, these people drown themselves in projects that they have put off. I can’t pretend to be an expert. College is stressful. I still get overwhelmed, and I’ve had my share of breakdowns. But I keep up with everything I need to. One thing that saved my life is a monthly planner. I have discovered that I can’t keep up with a daily planner too well. But a monthly planner is amazing. I got mine from Target (Here is a link to a similar one). It doesn’t have to be this elaborate thing, although it can be if you want it to. I see bullet journals and all this other stuff that I lack the patience to do. If you have time or you want to do something more elaborate, then go for it. It is a calendar of each month, but what I like about it is that there is room for me to write down all my deadlines and highlight them. There is also a notes section for each page. I write down my work schedule that way I remember when I work, and I don’t have to always look at the paper for everyone else’s schedule.
I still have time to sleep, hang out with friends, watch movies, exercise, and write this blog, so it can’t be all bad. Honestly, I don’t mind taking 18 credit hours every semester. It keeps me busy, but I don’t feel like I’m overwhelmed. I may eat late and I’m usually not in bed before midnight, but I don’t feel like I’m doing too much. I like everything I do. I can’t say I recommend everyone taking 18 credits. If you have poor time management or get distracted really easily, then you might get overwhelmed and it might be difficult to do everything. I don’t want you to do something you might regret, but if you’re about to start college, or even if you’re already in college, think about taking more than just 15 credits. Stretch yourself and find your limit. People always say college is about exploration, and that includes classes. Find things that interest you and find ways to make them work in your schedule.
Let me know if you have any thoughts or comments!