A bachelor’s degree requires 120 credits. If you take 15 credits, about 5 classes, each semester, it will take you 4 years to complete.
When you pay for tuition full-time, you will pay a flat fee for the semester whether you take 12, 15, or 18 credits. This means that the person that takes 12 credits per semester pays the same amount as the person who takes 15 credits a semester, but it takes them a whole extra year to graduate. This costs them one extra year’s worth of tuition money for the same amount of credits and the same degree.
Think about it. If you take 18 credits per semester, it will only take you 3 and a half years, or 9 semesters, to complete. In fact, one semester will only have 12 credits. If you took one summer class each summer for three summers, you would be able to graduate a whole year earlier.
How many credits you take will depend on several things. Start your first semester by taking 15 credits. This is a pretty standard workload. If after one semester of 15 credits you feel it was overwhelming, cut back. If you feel like you had a lot of extra time on your hands and could do more, than try 18 credits.
It will also depend on if you work. If you’re working 20 to 25 hours a week or more, this might be overwhelming. If you work 10 or 15 hours, it might be worth the try.
The general study rule for college classes is that for each hour you spend in class, spend 2 hours studying. That means, for a 15 credit hour workload, you will study for 30 hours for a total of 45 hours. That’s like working a little more than full time. If you tack on 25 hours working, that’s 70 hours of work each week.
If you find that it only takes you 1 hour of studying outside of each class, than with an 18 credit hour workload it will only be a total of 36 hours. That’s only one hour more than with 15 credits. If you do spend 9 hours per class total, that’s 54 hours. That might be okay for someone who doesn’t work.
The trick to taking 18 credits per semester is in what classes you take. If you take 6 demanding classes, it’s going to be too stressful. If you take 6 easy classes, eventually you will end up having to take all the demanding classes together. Unless you are super smart and find all the classes easy, this won’t work either.
Instead, mix up the easy classes with hard ones. Take 2 easy classes, 1 moderate class, and 3 difficult classes at once. For the easy classes you might only spend a couple hours of week studying, but you might use several more hours for the difficult classes.
Even if you don’t take 18 credits every semester, you might try taking 18 credits a few times. If you are double majoring, this will help you graduate on time. For instance, if you need 132 credits total for your degree, you will need to take 4 extra classes. You might decide to take 18 credits during each spring semester if your job is less demanding in the spring and you have more hours, or if you don’t do a sport in the spring.
Taking more classes may or may not be a good idea for you to save some extra money and time while in college. Test it out or pass it up. You know what you can handle, but don’t be afraid to give yourself a challenge.