IMAM: Increase the credit maximum to 18

The University should give students the freedom to take more classes

Signing up for classes can be a stressful time for many students. One reason for this is students’ lack of ability to sign up for the variety of courses they would like to take. Fellow columnist Ben Yahnian recently argued the Student Information System should allow students to sign up for the 17 credit hours they are allowed. While Yahnian makes many great points, I think the University should go a step further. The College should consider increasing the maximum credit load for its students from 17 to 18 credits.

Such an increase would allow students more autonomy and flexibility in deciding their schedules. By allowing students to take six three-credit classes, students would be able to choose from a greater variety of courses and create more well-rounded schedules. This would also benefit students taking four-credit courses, which are typically found in and are necessary for areas such as science, statistics and economics. For students forced to take two such classes in one semester, as well as two other three-credit courses, workload can often be a source of stress. Being able to take advantage of the University’s offerings of one-credit courses focusing on fitness or mindfulness would be highly beneficial for such students.

This increase in flexibility would also enable more students to more easily pursue a desired double major, particularly if a student were to discover a love for one of those subjects later in their four-year career here. Lastly, such an increase in maximum credit load would also help students trying to graduate a semester or two early, particularly for financial reasons. Allowing students to enroll in course loads they can’t handle far too easily may be a source of concern for some, but depending on the classes one takes, a student with fewer credits could have a much more demanding course load than someone enrolled in more. Besides, at the end of the day, shouldn’t a student be able to decide for himself how heavy of a course load he is willing to take on? Either way, one could always drop a class if it becomes clear there will be too much work. If someone ends up needing to withdraw from a class, resulting in a “W” on his transcript, that is a result of his own decision.

One problem I anticipate many people having with this proposal is the following argument: allowing students to take one more credit in order to allow students more autonomy eventually results in there being no limit at all. This is not only because there needs to be a limit in place not only to keep students from overloading in material, but also because there is only so much demand in classes the University can meet with a limited number of resources.

However, taking 18 credit hours would likely result in a more rounded out schedule than 19 credit hours would. This is because students taking 18 credits would likely be enrolled in schedules structured as I mentioned above (six three-credit courses, or two four-credit courses with two three-credit courses and an additional one-credit course). Most students in the STEM fields, which often include many four-credit classes, wouldn’t likely choose to take more than two of those classes in one semester and then desire taking more than six more credits. Furthermore, it only makes logical sense to assert that going from 18 to 19 (or however many more) credits imposes much more of a marginal increase in difficulty than does going from 17 to 18. It therefore seems that 19 or more credit hours simply wouldn’t be requested as much.

Currently, any student so inconvenienced by the current maximum of 17 only needs fill out the Credit Hour Overload Form and obtain approval from their association dean. However, considering my previous points, having to jump through this hoop to take this one additional credit seems silly. In order to allow students more autonomy and flexibility in determining their courses of study, the University should increase the maximum credit load for students in the College to 18 credit hours.

Alyssa Imam is an Opinion columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at

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