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Is taking 17 credits per semester worth it?

I want to finish my 4-year bachelor's degree in 2 years. I want to get enough ap credits. Right now I want to do something related to business. Is it okay if I take 8 credits the second term of the summer semester before my Freshman year of college? I am talking about the 6-week term. Is it normal for a student to take 7 credits per summer term? It gives a total of 14 credits for the entire summer semester after my freshman year. Do students take 17 credits as an incoming freshman for the fall or is it too much to handle? I want to take gen ed classes over the summer including some electives. I do not want to double major and i will not work at all. my parents are paying. #college #college-major #college-admissions #college-advice #finance #college-major #apclasses #graduation

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Paul’s Answer

I respect your enthusiasm and your willingness to graduate in under 4 years BUT I would not recommend taking that heavy of a course load your freshman year. It may seem easy on paper when scheduling your classes but you have to understand that college level courses require a lot more time studying outside the classroom compared to high school. I believe the rule of thumb is that for every hour you spend in class you need 3 hours of studying. Of course this will vary depending upon how difficult you find the material but the point is that you don't want to over do it your freshman year. You have to get use to the rigor and demands of being in college and you don't want to burn out your first semester. In addition, part of the college experience is the social and networking opportunities. You don't want to shortchange your experience because you were in your dorm room or library all the time.

On the other hand there have been individuals who could pull it off so I think you should get a second and third opinion then make a decision.

Thank you! How many credits would you recommend over each summer term? Annie M.

6 credits (or 2 classes per summer term) is ideal because you have to remember that they are condensing a full semester's worth of work into just a few weeks. You are going to be busy!! Paul Gullatte

Thank you soo much for your help! Annie M.

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Rachael’s Answer

Hi Annie,

I admire your decision and dedication to completing your degree. Similarly, I did an accelerated 3+1 program. I completed my undergraduate degree in three years and my masters program consisted of three masters degrees in what would have been my fourth year. It can be done. I completed 6 credits in my summer semester prior to freshman year and 17 credits in my first semester of freshman year. The most credits I took in a single semester was 25. I also double majored, worked throughout all 4 of my years, and participated in extracurricular activities.

If you have been a previously strong student in high school and are anticipatory of the workload and prepared to take on the accelerated pace then I would not be discouraged. One of the previous answers mentioned the difference between high school and college course and the time needed to study. I point I will make to rebut that is how much time you have in college as compared to high school. You're not in class from 8-3. Instead you might have 2-3 classes spread throughout the day.

I would strongly recommend ensuring the credits you plan to take during the summer will transfer/translate to the gen ed courses you will need by coordinating with admissions. (I took my courses at a cheaper college to save on cost.) I would also recommended meeting with an academic affairs counselor at your college/university to map out what your semesters will look like. I emphasize this point because only certain courses are offered during certain semesters at many colleges/universities. On a path such as yours, it is crucial the courses lineup in order for you to finish on time. Additionally, many colleges and universities will let you walk for graduation with a course or two to finish in the summer following. In the event you become overwhelmed during any semester I would ask if this is an option ahead of time to have to fall back on. The final point I will make is regarding credit overage charges. Some colleges and universities will charge money per credit exceeding the normal carrying load. I would make sure you look into this and perhaps ask if there would be a scholarship or assistance available. Regardless, it is cheaper than extending a year.

Best of luck with your endeavor.

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Kim’s Answer


College will be different, and harder, than what you are accustomed to. Lots of reading, writing, and studying. And, with some professors giving only two exams (midterm and final), the stress is high.

Is there a reason you want to do it so fast? If there is no compelling reason, I'd say slow it down! I know at your age the idea of starting a career is exciting, and I don't mean to discourage you in any way, BUT, you have all your life to be an adult with adult responsibilities - paying bills and making some pretty serious decisions. Sixty years or so. It really isn't as exciting as it looks! Please slow down and enjoy these few precious years!

If you insist on taking a heavier load part of the time, I'd recommend getting acclimated your first semester (12 hours!), and then increasing the load for the second semester, and the sophomore year. After that you will be in upper level classes, which usually are more demanding. And please don't burn yourself out over the summer. I did 12 hrs over the summer (6 hrs per term), for two summers. My GPA took a hit. Not super- bad, but, I am not a C student! Remember to balance heavy reading classes with lighter classes.

Consider adding some work/volunteer experience into the mix. A graduate with a degree, but no experience, will face greater difficulties in finding employment.

Best of luck!

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Richard’s Answer

Most freshmen usually wait to take a large number of credit hours, like 17 or 18, until after their first semester. This is because there is always a period of adjusting to their new style of life and school. However, it is possible and my sons both in private and public universities know several people doing that.

If you're worried about the courseload, start slow and work your way up. Taking summer classes is a great way to allow yourself to do that and still complete your degree on time.

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Rachel’s Answer

You are certainly allowed to take this many hours, but it may be a good idea to at least get one semester under your belt prior to taking on a larger than average course load. With a business degree, GPA may not be that important, but if you need to get A's, maybe start with a less challenging load.

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Simeon’s Answer

It depends on how you are describing the summer structure for your school. I am used to three summer units, with one whole course being taught in a month. I was able to complete a four/five year degree in three years for my masters degree by packing in my summer calendar. It was brutal, but it was also graduate level work. It'll be much less rigorous at the undergrad level. If you are able to sign up for a full summer schedule and are willing to spend the whole summer doing course work, the payoffs are there. You save a lot on tuition/student debt by managing to graduate early.