Friday, December 14, 2012

Course Overload: A Reflection.

This past semester has just ended, and I must say it's bittersweet. Bitter for more reasons than I can list, but sweet for at least one reason: this semester was pretty hard. 

 This is my head at the end of finals. This is the link for the above picture of my exploding brain.
I took five classes in the fall, and this isn't common practice in the SMC curriculum. Since we use a 4-4 model (four, four-credit classes per semester = 16 credits per semester), the college doesn't typically allow students to take a fifth four-credit course (there are 2-credit classes that they'll allow you to take, though). But if you meet the GPA requirement and get permission from the Assistant Dean of Students, they allow exceptions. I pursued that option this semester, and based on my experiences, it's worth reflecting on.

One question might be: would I recommend it to students who have the opportunity to pursue this? Yes and no. For me, it was a *good* option this semester, because I had just declared a double major and had some catching up to do, as well as taking some LSR's. That being said, it's been a really hard semester for me. I even attempted to drop one of the classes mid-semester, but changed my mind and continued. The issue is that it's quite a course load, and since so many students here are heavily involved on campus outside of academics, it take a toll. If it weren't for my support system and my professors, I would have struggled a lot more than I did.

Also, science courses. Not to debate whether science majors are harder than others or not (cause that's no fun), they do require labs, which are an extra three hours per week per course. So if you take five classes with two labs, you're taking seven classes with 21 hours of in-class time per week. To put that in perspective, there is a general rule that four classes should be a full-time job, where you're putting 10 hours of work into each class each week (3 in class, 7 outside), for four classes. For five classes with two labs, that's 56 hours total. If you count labs as another class (which is not unwarranted), that's 70 hours. So, for the sake of a round number, lets say that I had a 60 hour per week course load this semester, which is a lot when combined with the typical SMC student extracurricular load.

So if you're considering taking five classes, just know it's a commitment  I learned that the hard way for sure, and I personally think I wont need to do it again. But I did learn quite a bit about time management, and the dangers of wearing yourself too thin.

So, happy end of the semester! Hopefully it will be a relaxing break for all :)

Thanks for reading!

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