UR’s studious culture is ingrained in our campus life. Finding a space to study on a Thursday night in iZone was a challenge during pre-COVID-19 times, but even with the severely reduced social side of study spaces, our libraries are still packed.
At UR, the minimum amount of credits to be enrolled as a full-time student is 12 credit hours, or three standard classes. An overload is when a student requests to carry more than 19 credit hours a semester. Overloads that are between 19 and 23 credit hours require a student have at least a 3.0 GPA from the semester prior. For 24+ credits, the GPA cutoff gets raised to 3.4, and students must submit a petition explaining their reasons for carrying the extra credits.
Overloads are a lot. However, four-credit classes can differ depending on what they require of an enrolled student. Some classes meet once a week for three hours, while others ask their students to meet two times a week, and have both mandatory recitations and labs.
When a student requests an overload, they usually agree to a rigorous schedule. Almost all students have additional responsibilities, such as work, extracurriculars, and research positions.
Many of the students interviewed for this article said 16 credits is a normal course load, but it’s not abnormal for students to take an extra class in addition.
UR’s simmering Meliora culture — the pressure to be “ever better” — could be one reason for these overloads. Another could be the tight schedule of most STEM majors, which leaves overloading as the only way to explore other fields. Some students might also want to finish their degree requirements faster, which means taking more credits early on to give themselves a lighter load later.
The students interviewed for this article generally agreed that the reason for overloading depends on the person.
First-year Minh Anh Dang said that there’s a difference between good students and smart students. In his opinion, good students burn themselves out upping their course load, whereas smart students search for balance.
“You find a good student doing a lot of work, and trying to be on top of academic things, and doing extracurriculars on top of that,” Dang said.“You find a smart student on campus, he and she will do what is required, like maybe 16 credits, and she will try to participate in other activities like sports or other positions on campus.
“I think it is upon us to decide what kind of student we are: A good student or a smart student.”
The consensus was that overloading is fine, as long as the student is able to handle the credits.
“I think [overloading] is good, if you can handle it, it’s good,” junior Summer Mills said. “Especially if you overload earlier on, it’s better so you can have more chill [schedules] in your later years.”
“I don’t know if I would put a binary good or bad on it, but I think it is very helpful […] to get your stuff done,” junior Emily O’Brien said. “I definitely think people shouldn’t be pressured to overload.”
Whatever the reason, students generally believe that the choice to overload is a personal one, and people shouldn’t be pressured to take extra credits. An overload can be very stressful depending on the requirements of each class, and a student should know their own limits before embarking on an overloaded semester.