Balancing little time and high involvement


By Harsha Bellamkonda

I remember back to when I was registering for classes in the summer, there was one seemingly important piece of advice that I heard everywhere: “Take no more and no less than 15 credit hours.”

Apparently, 15 was the magical number of credit hours that would guarantee success in the first semester of college. At the time, I had a poor understanding of what exactly credit hours were, so I took their advice. Looking at the amount of work I have now, I’m glad I did.

Taking too many classes and overworking oneself hurts in the long run more than it helps.

Given the time-sucking potential of each credit hour, all college students should pace themselves, and as we prepare to register for next semester’s classes, figuring out the best work balance when it comes to course load is crucial.

Taking the maximum number of credit hours, 18, can be extremely difficult, especially if those classes cover difficult topics in general. When students may still be adjusting to the intensity of a college class, it’s important not to overcommit or spread ourselves too thin with activities and academics, as that may make it hard to truly excel or focus on individual topics.

Matthew Auston, freshman in Engineering, is currently taking 17 credit hours and participating in five registered student organizations.EJ

When asked how he manages those many commitments, he replied, “The key is staying organized. With proper structure and staying ahead of deadlines, handling a busy course load is manageable. While it is manageable, there is a significant time commitment and I tend to have minimal leisure time.”

Auston is not the only one. There are quite a number of students who take 17 to 18 credit hours per semester. In fact, some students request course overloads to take up to 21 credit hours at a time.

Frequently, students pack on extra classes because they’re anxious about graduating on time, or want to graduate early.( RB However, for many students, it’s not a good idea to take on such a packed schedule.

While it may seem beneficial, the mental cost for students is often too high. Not only are we filling up our schedule to harmful levels, but we’re also inadvertently giving up on some simple pleasures such as adequate sleep, hanging out with friends or getting involved in other organizations at the University.

Even when we try to balance all of these things, it frequently ends up causing us undue stress, which is largely detrimental to our livelihood and functioning as students overall. Major stress comes from having too much work or doing work that is unsatisfying.

Copious amounts of stress or being stressed for long periods of time can lead to immediate health problems such as insomnia, moodiness, stomach sensitivity and headaches in addition to low self esteem and energy. ( RB

The theme of overcommitting ourselves spreads to other areas of involvement as well. Joining too many RSOs or having a job that is too demanding can be detrimental for the same exact reasons.

Participating in two RSOs you love and can feasibly make time for is always preferred to doing five you are mildly interested in, which collectively take up far more time. Having a job is an amazing experience and résumé booster, but again, if it conflicts badly with classes, clubs or other activities, it may not be worth it.

Learning how many hours to take and how many activities to get involved in are necessary lessons that ensure we are giving adequate time and attention to the things we do choose to participate in.

Although people who can handle taking 18 credit hours and simultaneously participating in five RSOs without tons of stress exist, it’s not a standard that has to be met for collegiate success.

So, when registering for classes or perusing activities to sign up for next semester, know that balancing between classes and RSOs is your best chance of creating a healthy week schedule where you work as efficiently as you can, but avoid any breakdowns.

Harsha is a freshman in Engineering.

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