It’s OK to take a 12-hour semester

By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer

Most of us will only attend college for four or five years of our lives. It is an amazing opportunity to be in contact with and learn from some of the most knowledgeable individuals on our topics of interest. We have a wealth of knowledge and information at our fingertips and it is a time strictly dedicated to learning and studying.

However, too many of us feed into the myth that if we’re not constantly working and staying productive, we are falling behind in our career aspirations. It is OK to spend at least one semester taking only the minimum of 12 hours. Mental well-being is just as crucial to success as academic well-being.

While this reduction in hours definitely isn’t possible every semester, it can have a lot of positive benefits if we shape at least one semester to look like this.

As college students, we are often pressured to overwork ourselves, spread ourselves too thin and made to feel guilty taking any time off throughout the week. While productivity is certainly beneficial and necessary for success, 18 hours every single semester of college just leads to students burning out before they even begin their desired career.

When individuals are stressed, they remain in a mindset of panic. This causes energy drain, irritability, anger and health issues. While stress can be beneficial, being consistently overwhelmed and unable to react to all that is weighing us down can take a toll on our long-term mental health and success.

According to the National College Health Assessment, only 1.6% of undergraduate college students said they felt no stress in 2019. According to The American Institute of Stress, 80% of students said that they feel stressed sometimes or often and 34% of them have reported feelings of depression.

Now, the question is, how can we logistically take a 12-15 hour semester and still manage to graduate on time? This certainly varies by major and may be easier for some majors than it is for others.

Bringing in transfer credit from high school courses is always a great starting point. However, if this wasn’t a reality for you, summer classes and winter minimesters through local community colleges such as McLennan Community College are always a great way to knock out necessary classes that may not lend anything towards your major.

While these classes are required to graduate, they can easily be taken during a time when you’re not taking other courses and be checked quickly off the list.

While doing schoolwork during summer break may not be ideal, it is definitely worth the time if class during a fall or spring semester can be decreased in a way that positively benefits your time management.

When your stress is lower, your memory improves, your sleep improves, your health improves and your energy improves.

It also just lends a lot more time to spend with friends on campus, roommates at home, working a job you may need, maybe even finding a new hobby and truly learning the material rather than just knocking out the assignments on a time crunch.

Things like guitar playing, skateboarding, photography, knitting or playing sports allow you to do the things you enjoy while still stimulating your brain throughout the day in a more enjoyable way.

Again, this ability to take fewer hours certainly varies by choice of major. However, if ever possible, don’t feel the pressure to tack on extra hours to a semester that doesn’t need it. It will allow you more time to process, invest yourself in and truly excel at the classes you are taking while giving you more time to spend with those around you and with yourself.

Don’t let the myth of working yourself to death get the better of you. Give yourself time to breath, time to explore other things and time to truly process and apply the material that you are learning.

Learning shouldn’t be a chore you check off the list because you’re worried about not having time to finish everything. College is a precious time, what a waste to spend it overworked and overwhelmed without truly finding a passion for what you’re doing.