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how many classes should be taken in first year?

jmlbradsjmlbrads Posts: 83Registered User Junior Member
edited January 2006 in Parents Forum
My daughter has been accepted at UVA for Fall 2006. What is the recommended number of classes she should take? I don't want her to be too overwhelmed....but I don't want her to be a slacker either. Any help would be appreciated!
Post edited by jmlbrads on

Replies to: how many classes should be taken in first year?

  • dvandvan Posts: 65Registered User Junior Member
    My D is a freshman at William and Mary. As it appears that the calibre of students is comparable at both schools, I pass along her experience. She was a bit cautious about taking a full load the first semester so she took 13 credits ( 3 three-credit courses plus a four credit freshman seminar). She adjusted to the workload, did well and is confident about taking 15 credits the second semester. (She did get some credit for some AP courses, so she has a "buffer" credit-wise to work with.) The main thing was that this was something she wanted to do as it was in her comfort zone. None of her courses were courses in the hard-sciences. She indicated that some of her friends taking these courses were indeed challenged.
  • bing121086bing121086 Posts: 1,097Registered User Member
    I would look at the UVA website or viewbook or something that tells how many credits are required for graduation, divide that number by eight semesters, and do that number or maybe do a few credits below that number. I need 124 credits to graduate, so my first semester, I took 16 because two of those credits were a French conversation course with little to no outside homework. Most of my friends took 14 or 15 credits (assuming you need 15.5 each semester to graduate on time).
  • carolyncarolyn Posts: 7,435Registered User Senior Member
    I agree with Bing: it also not just the number of credits, but the type of classes that need to be considered. Taking five very work-heavy classes the first semester may be too much, taking three or four work-heavy classes and one less time-consuming or just plain fun class may make the work load more manageable.
  • jmmomjmmom Posts: 9,083Registered User Senior Member
    DS took the equivalent of 16 credits as a Visiting Student at Bates -4 classes, 2 were lab sciences (so extra hours there). He felt overwhelmed for just a day or two, but settled in. 4 is the norm for Bates. I think it depends, as others have said, on the nature of the classes and the kid. Some kids are fine with the extra class hours required in a science class; some kids are fine with reading heavy/paper heavy course. Some are not. Based on the individual kid's "bent", I would try to balance so that there are not an extreme number of reading heavy/paper heavy classes or an extreme number of lab sciences.

    Some majors don't allow this flexibility - Engineering, eg, usually involves 16-18 credit hours/semester for several semesters. Lots of lab time, lots of problem sets, but not a lot of reading and papers. DS is willingly adding 2 more credit hours next term to do Applied Music instrumental, but that is something he "loves", so fits the "just plain fun" idea carolyn mentions.
  • my-3-sonsmy-3-sons Posts: 2,376Registered User Senior Member
    I agree that the type of classes needs to be considered. I also think that students should consider whether they are attending a safety, match or reach school. Kids attending reach schools should probably take a more conservative approach and not overload themselves as the rigor will probably be more than they are used to. My freshman, attending a match, did very well with 15 credits 1st semester (chem-4, calc-4, eng-3, spanish-3 and fr seminar-1) and feels comfortable with a 2nd semester load of 17 although he made sure one was a "light" course. Your D will probably have some pre-registration advising to help her. Good luck-UVA is a great school.
  • texas137texas137 Posts: 2,143Registered User Senior Member
    UVA should have guidelines for this, and possibly even a freshman credit limit. MIT only allows 4 courses first semester and 4-1/2 (includes a seminar) second semester for freshman. Many other schools have recommended maximum courseloads for freshmen. If UVA does, it will be in the orientation material.
  • sid19sid19 Posts: 287Registered User Junior Member
    Another thing to consider is the reading. Even if you dont have labs some classes have lots of required reading and students sometimes underestimate the time it takes to understand the material (my first semester had me re-reading texts as i was unfamiliar with the jargon so it was like another language to me). As time goes by you learn to judge what you really do need to read and what you can just skim .... but this skill can take a while to master.
  • sybbie719sybbie719 Posts: 16,993Super Moderator Senior Member
    Darmouth has school on the quarter system where the normal course load in each of the four terms of the academic year is three courses. A student may without permission or extra charge undertake during a college career a four-course load up to a maximum of three times

    While two- or four-course loads are allowed within specified limits, no matriculated undergraduate may have in any term a load of fewer than two courses or may in any term take, or receive credit for, five or more courses.

    While classes at Dartmouth meet 2 to 3 times a week every professor has an additional X hour each week which they can use to hold class. Some professors only use their X-hours for review sessions while others use their X hours each week making the class meet from 3 to 4 times a week. If you take a foreign language, there is a required a 45 minute drill 4 days a week outside of the normal class time and X hours (D's spanish drill met at 7:45 in the morning).


    Any registered student not officially enrolled in at least two courses by the end of the tenth day of classes in a term is liable to administrative withdrawal.

    I agree Sid that a student needs to take care in choosing courses as you may not want to take 3 classes where all three classes are heavy on reading. IF you take a since class with lab the lab can be any where from 3 to 6 hours in length.
  • beeberbeeber Posts: 13Registered User New Member
    My daughter is in her third year at UVA. Students are required to carry an average of 15 hours per semester over the 8 semesters they are enrolled. 12 hours is the minimum required and 19 hours is the maximum - without approval from a dean for more (or less).

    Most courses are 3-hour courses, so 5 courses would be the norm. Some courses, mainly science and math, are 4-hour courses.

    I agree with others. It isn't the number of courses, but the types of courses and the workloads - something difficult for a newly admitted student to gauge.

    My D is a chemistry and history double major. Since she was taking chemistry, physics and math first semester, I insisted that she find something that might be less demanding. That turned out to be a music appreciation course. She loved it.
  • JeepMOMJeepMOM Posts: 2,499Registered User Senior Member
    BEEBER the UNC system - 16 schools in all - highly recommend the same - 15 credits minimum per semester - to graduate on - or close to - on time. This can be a somewhat tough course load for the science majors - or the likes of - with all the 3-1 credit science requirements - but I agree that it is a good idea to throw in a 'fun' course each semester - helps to lighten the load a bit. I have a kiddo in the UNC system and the course load is an average of 17-18 credits per semester and 1 semester of 12 - which an internship for her major.

    Just have to keep in mind that 12 is the requirement to be considered a 'ful-time' student for the insurance benefits for most health insurance companies - some will allow less for full-time status - best to check with health insurance company for their requirements - so there is a trade-off of sorts for some students/families.
  • garlandgarland Posts: 12,804Registered User Senior Member
    Columbia requires, I think, 124 "points", so like wise, about 15/16 credits a semester. But for some reason, students routinely take at least 5 classes, and 18/19 credits or more. It may have to do with the fact that they have so many required courses, tht this is the only way to look into a lot of other stuff. it does get out of hand, though, with 4 classes looking like slacking.

    I agree with others that you need to find out the requirements and the norm at your school; there's no hard and fast overall rules.
  • estrella72estrella72 Posts: 368Registered User Member
    Hi I'm not a parent, but I'm the first kid appplying to college so my own parents don't have much advice. I have a question about the number of classes one should take, so I was hoping a parent who's been there could help me out.
    I want to major in IR and although I will be taking required classes, etc. I would really like to study more than one language, which would probably mean an extra class, maybe 5 instead of 4. Do you think an extra language class is possible at most schools? (I have applied to University of Washington, Whitman, Claremont McKenna, Pomona, Macalester, Middlebury, Brown, Georgetown-SFS, Tufts, and Johns Hopkins).
    I don't even know what schools I'm in at, but I was just wondering what general thoughts on this are. Thank you!!
  • jmlbradsjmlbrads Posts: 83Registered User Junior Member
    thanks for all of the help and input from you all! I neglected to mention that my daughter is interested in political science and international relations. Thanks!
  • soccerguy315soccerguy315 Posts: 6,721Registered User Senior Member
    Estrella72-

    You can definitely study more than one language, but most lower level college language classes will meet at least 4 if not 5 days a week, and they go much faster than their high school counterparts. Keep that in mind.

    for the OP-

    At W&M, we are on the 120 credits to graduate = 15 a semester system. I would recommend your D take between 12 and 15 credits. If your D already has some credits, then she won't need to push as hard right away. It's very common to take less than 15 credits first semester. The D could take 4 "normal" classes for 12 credits, and then something fun that's 1 or 2 credits.

    I will say that if a student is taking say, 14 credits, and they fail the first test miserably in a 3 credit class and want to withdraw (not drop, take the W) instead of struggling for to try to pass, that they likely will not be able to withdraw from the class if it puts them below the 12 credit limit. Not something you necessarily want to think about, but it is a possibility (I withdrew from something during my second semester).
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