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October 29, 2019

Taking 12 Credits Won’t Let Your Graduate on Time

Take enough credits to graduation on time or even more

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

You are enrolling for the first semester of college, and you are entering a whole new world of registering for classes that have varying numbers of credits associated with them from 2 to 5 credits.  Since you are starting out, you ask someone in the registrar’s office “What is considered full-time enrollment?”  She answers, “12 credits or more.”  So you enroll in 12 credits, but guess what you learn later – if you keep up this pace of 12 credits a semester, you’ll need to enroll an additional semester to graduate!


Don’t just take the minimum number of credits to be considered full-time

That is why groups like Complete College America  have inspired over 200 colleges to  message their students in a campaign called “15 to Finish.”  The idea is you take 15 credits each enrollment period so that you can graduate on time.  

There are variations on this theme encouraging students to take enough credits along the way so that they take less time, spend less money, and graduate on time.


Overloading credits to graduate faster

Since we are talking about registering for 15 or college credits, it begs the question “Can I take even more classes and graduate early?” The answer may be yes for some.  Just think about some of the other costs that may be monetary, sanity, or experiential.  

The cost of taking additional credits varies by college. Some colleges have a flat fee whether you are taking 12 or 18 credits (or even more).  Colleges in the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) call this “Plateau Tuition” set tuition price for undergraduate students within a set range of credits.  This is a way to complete your degree faster and at the same price.  Others scale the cost based on the number of credits you are taking.  At University of North Dakota for 2019-20 academic year, in-state students pay $399 per unit, Minnesota students pay $400, and students from other US states pay $570.  That means the more units, the more the cost.

If you decide to overload, just know if there will be additional tuition costs and think of the cost for books and supplies for those additional class(es).  Also, check with the financial aid office to determine if you will receive any additional grant dollars to cover any of these additional costs.

Another consideration is your sanity.  Stress hits every individual in a different way.  More classes means more time to prepare for class, hours in a physical or virtual classroom, and time.  You want to balance stretching yourself but not burning yourself out. Make certain you set yourself up for success to handle the additional academic work and get the grades you aspire to achieve.

Also, determine if the additional classes will make for a better experience for that enrollment period or your long-term goals.  You need to make short-term sacrifices to take 22 credits in one semester.  That may mean there may not be as much time to go to the gym, hangout with friends, or participate in Asian American Student Association.  


Final Thoughts

  • Think about how many credits it will take for you to graduate in 4 years.  
  • Know that you can experiment with taking more credits along the way to graduate early.  
  • Consider what will work for you to shine academically and achieve your goals.  

Photograph of Colleen Krumwiede
Colleen Krumwiede
Co-Founder & Chief Revenue Officer

Colleen MacDonald Krumwiede is a financial aid expert with over a decade of financial aid experience at Stanford GSB, Caltech, and Pomona College and another decade at educational finance and technology companies servicing higher education.  She guides go-to-market strategy and product development at Quatro to transform the way families afford college.


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