12 keeps you as a full time student, 15-16 is considered "normal", and 18+ is a very heavy load. Most classes are 3 credit hours, so that is 5 classes (for a "normal" load). In your son's case, he will have labs, so that is an extra hour for each lab, I think. First semester he will have TIDES, which is one hour, but other than participating it shouldn't represent any extra work. So if you see 17 the first semester, don't panic.
While 15 hours is considered standard or average, most people I know take more hours. Maybe I just hang out with a "more studious" crowd or something, but I don't know anyone taking less than 17 hours. Most of my friends are at 17-22. That being said, I think that you should take the least amount of hours possible your first semester (12-15) so that you can really adjust to Tulane and learn how to do well here.
I think you definitely hang out with the top students, tulane14. I also call 15 hours normal because it takes 120 hours to graduate, and everything is geared towards an eight semester career (except architecture). Therefore 8x15=120. That is why I call it standard, because it is exactly that, a national standard. No question though, a LOT of Tulane students are double majors and/or otherwise very serious students that decide to take more. Again, being in the sciences often leads to 17 hours because of labs. It is still 5 courses, essentially, but an even heavier work load than that would indicate.
I took 19 hours my first semester and it wasn't really bad at all. It really depends on what classes you're in. This semester I ended up with 16 hours because I dropped a class I ended up not needing or wanting and didn't add another. However, I would be fine having one more and I sort of wish I had taken another.
CC is definitely chock full of overachievers. That being said, I took 19 credits my first semester and 17 this semester. I knew that I would be rushing a sorority this semester and didn't want to be overwhelmed or have my gpa suffer. When deciding on your course load, I think there are a few things you should think about. How many credits are you entering with? What are the requirements for your major or majors? How many activities and clubs do you plan on being involved with? I was looking into adding another class this semester thinking 17 credits weren’t enough, I'm so glad I didn't add any. I can't say that I'm overwhelmed on a daily basis, but there are definitely days where there are just not enough hours in a day. Between classes, studying, clubs, research, sorority, gym (trying not to gain the dreaded freshman 15) and socializing, sleep is very limited.
And remember, the original question was (at least I took it as this) a simple question of fact.
What is considered a full load?
how many hours per semester is considered a full load at Tulane?
Simply as a fact, 12 hours a semester keeps you at full time status, and you need 15 a semester to stay on track to graduate in 4 years unless you have the AP credits (which most students have at least a few, and some a lot).
I think people like tulane14, gabby, my D, etc., take more for a variety of reasons. Being a science major (not my D) leads to labs that add hours. Foreign languages are often 4 hour courses and that adds another hour over the norm. The biggest reason, I am sure, is that they love learning and challenging themselves and want to take full advantage of their time at Tulane. But as gabby eloquently points out, that should involve more than just classes, so one does want to be a bit careful on loading up on courses, especially time consuming ones. I think tulane14's advice is excellent for most incoming freshmen. Stick with the "normal" load of 4 or 5 classes (I am not counting TIDES in that) and get used to being in a new environment.
I took 15 hours my first semester and am currently taking 20 hours this semester (including 2 labs). Between doing research, being in class, and doing homework/studying for class I am VERY VERY busy. That being said, I decided to load up on the hours this semester, because I will be keeping my course load very light next year (12-15 hours max, probably) when I'm taking organic chemistry and my neuroscience core classes.
I agree with Gabby, especially when it comes to later semesters. It really depends on what activities you are involved with. Once again, I don't think you should take any chances your first semester, however. I wouldn't take more than 15 hours (+tides) because you won't know how much you can handle until you get here. If you could have handled more, then at least you had extra time to socialize and settle into Tulane. The reality is that most people can't handle much more (especially in the sciences and engineering), so I wouldn't risk being overwhelmed and doing poorly your first semester because you just decided to take that extra random class that you could easily take later. Hope this helps!!