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How much is too much?

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

Kyra Garabedian

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There is no doubt every college student has experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed with their courses and responsibilities. When job obligations and social relationships are thrown into the mix it’s nearly impossible sometimes for students to stay afloat. Everyone has their own understanding of how much they can handle. However, should there be a limit to how many credits students are allowed to take, or should that be up to the discretion of the student?

Rhode Island College sets their full-time student status for those taking 12 or more credits. Typically this amount of credits translates to three or four courses. Most programs encourage students to take between 14-16 credits to stay on track and graduate on time. The maximum amount of credits RIC lets students take without additional fees is 18, but students can take additional credits if they get special permission and are willing to pay for them.

Some students have no problem overloading themselves with more credits than the average student takes in a semester. Although it isn’t easy, sometimes it is necessary to do so if students wish to graduate on time. This Fall is the first time I have enrolled in more than 18 credits, and I have only talked to one other student who has been in this position. It definitely takes dedication and a flexible schedule, which often is difficult for college students to maintain with all the responsibilities they hold. The question remains whether the college should leave the decision of how many credits they think they can handle up to students or if there should be a set limit. With all the pressure students face on a daily basis, it seems likely they can often bite off more than they can chew.

It seems unlikely that RIC would want students to set themselves up for failure, which is why most programs map out recommendations for when courses should be taken in order to graduate on time. Most programs can be completed without taking more than four or five courses per semester in a perfect situation. What the course recommendation maps don’t account for is when students have busy schedules outside of school. They might have job and family commitments that prevent them from taking a full course load every semester. This might require students to make up for lighter semesters by taking more than the recommended amount of courses.

I spoke with one of my peers who has never taken more than 16 credits in a semester, and she believes it should be up to the student to decide how many credits they can handle. She also voiced her opinion of how students shouldn’t have to pay extra for more than 18 credits, especially if there are semesters that the student takes a lower number of credits. They should be able to make up for semesters where they couldn’t fit in courses they need, even if they go a few credits over the 18 credit limit RIC has set. It’s unrealistic to believe every student can follow a map of what classes they should take each semester and never have to take more than 18 credits in order to graduate on time.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with paying for the extra credits, but I do believe more students should be aware that they can request permission to take additional credits. What I have a problem with is the fact that there is the potential for students to be denied the opportunity to take the credits if they don’t receive permission from those who review the request. You never know what students are going through in and out of school, and it should be their responsibility to decide how much is too much. After all, we are in the stages of our lives where we need to make independent decisions, and this should be one of them.


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