Students taking 21 credits explain how to survive the stress

While students stress over a full load of classes, Taylor Sullivan scoffs at the idea of taking a measly 12 credits.

Sullivan enrolled in 21 credit hours this semester, the maximum amount of hours an undergraduate student can take at a time.

“It has its moments where it can be stressful," Sullivan said, "but if you manage it well, it’s doable."

Sullivan isn’t alone.

There are 70 undergraduate students enrolled in 21 credit hours this spring, said Mary Meier, associate director of Institutional Research. Last semester, 72 undergraduates were enrolled in the maximum course load.

Reasons vary as to why students go out of their way to endure such an exceptional course load.

As a Bay City sophomore majoring in fashion design and general management with a minor in sales, Sullivan is trying to finish school in a timely manner.

She said trying to keep it all together takes not only diligence, but a high degree of organization.

“I have a planner, a to-do list, and another calendar on my phone,” Sullivan said.

She also uses color-coded folders for every class to keep her work and study materials organized.

Majoring in political science, international business and Spanish, and minoring in leadership, Victoria Dennis has also taken on the maximum undergraduate schedule.

The freshman said she was initially only supposed to take 18 credits this semester, until she realized there was a prerequisite for her 300-level Spanish classes.

Aside from staying organized like Sullivan, Dennis has been able to survive 21 credits by mixing up her course schedule between on-campus and online classes.

“Taking two online classes helps because you’re on your own schedule,” Dennis said. “The most stressful thing is when I have a full day of classes with no break.”

As Dennis wades through her busy day, finding time to relax can be an afterthought. Despite the stress, she likes the fact she has committed herself to her three majors.

While Dennis and Sullivan have found a way to make it work, Honors Program Advisor Ken Rumsey doesn’t recommend a maximum course load for the average student.

He usually advises students to take 14 to 16 credits per semester, telling them to weigh everything that’s going on in their lives when registering for classes.

“Everybody has a different situation,” Rumsey said. “Some people are working outside of school and others are not.”

Rumsey said his warnings are not always considered, but he has seen his fair share of students with maximum credit course loads.

“Some people are more successful when they treat it like a job,” he said. “It’s not a four-year school for everyone, Everybody’s on a different schedule.”

Freshman Brett Goodman is in his first semester taking 21 credits, trying to fulfill a music major and honors program requirements.

Even with the stress of constant studying looming on the horizon, Goodman said the experience of absorbing the entire CMU experience will be well worth it.

“So far it hasn’t been too bad, and I like being busy,” he said. “There are so many things you can do in college and I just want to do them all.”


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