I switched my major at the beginning of this school year, so I felt ridiculously behind when it came to my progress in both my major and minor. But I was determined to still graduate on time. So, for this spring semester, I decided to take 18-credits worth of classes. For my school, this is the most credits you can take in a semester without filling out a special form, and it translates to six classes. However, I thought it wouldn't be too bad. Yes, it would be a lot of work, but I would survive.
I totally underestimated taking 18-credits in one semester. It was an awful decision, and I would not recommend it to anyone else, no matter how far behind they feel or how confident they feel about it.
This semester was by far the most stressful period I've experienced in my entire life. I just didn't realize how much time it ate up to have to attend six classes, which for me meant three classes on Monday and Wednesday, three classes on Tuesday and Thursday, and one class on Friday. I'm not one to skip class, but when five of your six classes have a mandatory attendance policy, it makes you feel a bit trapped. While my other friends had decent sized breaks between their classes so that they were able to work on schoolwork throughout the day, I didn't. My classes were for the most part back-to-back-to-back. Originally I thought it would be nice to cluster all my classes together instead of dragging it out, but I was quickly re-thinking that a few weeks into the semester.
Obviously, all of these classes demanded much outside of the classroom as well. Two of my classes were group project-oriented, which meant allocating time outside of class for group meetings. Two of my classes were extremely heavy on reading, and the other two had exams every couple of weeks. Here I was, someone who was used to juggling many things at once, finally stretched too thin. By the time I realized that I had too much on my plate and that my course load was threatening my sanity, it was too late to drop any of my classes and I was stuck with the schedule I had ambitiously created for myself.
Becuase I was constantly doing schoolwork, I look back at this semester and realize that I did not have much time to enjoy myself. To enjoy the college experience. To hang out with friends. To relax. Even if I wasn't doing schoolwork, I was constantly in a state of stress and irritability. I got angry at the smallest things and would break out in tears just because I was so overwhelmed. I wasn't able to dedicate myself to things as much as I wanted to because I simply didn't have the time. I know that we tend to romanticize the stressed out college student who has to drink five cups of coffee and stay up until 2 a.m. to write a 20-page-paper, but we really shouldn't. Life demands hard work, but it shouldn't take over your entire life like this. And especially not when you're still so young.
This was my fourth semester in college, and it was definitely my worst. I never realized how much stress can impact the body and the mind until I experienced a full-course load. If you really think you want to take the maximum amount of credits for a semester, be sure to think it over carefully. Because even though it might seem necessary at the time, it's not worth sacrificing your sanity and happiness.