Dear 100 Hour Board,
I am unsure if it is worth being a full time student next semester. I will be 16.5 credits away from graduating and have some heavy capstone classes to take such that I don't want to knock all those out in one semester. What is the financial difference between taking 9 credits versus 12 and what is your opinion on full-time versus part-time course loads? Is it worth paying per credit if I will be in 9 credits?
-Almost Graduated But Still Hanging In There
For Fall/Winter 2018-2019, the cost of tuition for an undergraduate per semester is $2,810 for 12+ credits and $2,670 for 9-11.5 credits. The difference is $140.
Dear AGBSH—OH WAIT NOPE I CAN'T FINISH THAT ACRONYM,
If you're not as concerned about money, I don't think there's any harm in spreading out your courseload a little. I've never dipped below 12 credits for financial aid reasons, but around two years ago I was facing a similar dilemma: I could cram my schedule full of physics classes (and nothing else) and graduate in a year, or I could spread things out and graduate over two. I ultimately went with the latter option for a few reasons, some of which follow:
- I'd just come off of the worst semester of my entire educational career, and part of the reason it was so terrible was because I'd tried to take multiple advanced physics courses at the same time (with a not-super-steady mathematical foundation, to boot).
- Relatedly, I could finish my degree faster if I took more physics classes at the same time, but after that killer semester, that was a big old IF. I wasn't sure that I could pass my physics classes if I took a bunch at the same time, and since having to retake classes would extend my graduation time, anyway, I figured it was better to play it safe and give myself more time on the first go-around.
(That semester was really the worst, guys. Just ask Auto Surf or Vienna; I vented to them a TON about how terrible everything was. I WAS BREAKING OUT IN HIVES! Anyway.)
- I was really not sure what my post-graduation plan would be as far as going to more school or looking for a job, and I figured that taking more time would help me figure out just what I wanted to do with my life. (I'm still not super sure on that, but I am better informed/prepared now than I was back then.)
- Loading up on physics classes would mean that I wouldn't be able to take any of my "fun classes," like literature or sketch writing, and that thought made me really sad.
(You may be asking yourself, dear reader, "Wait, if he thinks that his physics classes are super lame and he doesn't know what he wants to do with his degree but he also loves literature and writing classes, then why isn't he in a different major?"
Reader, I literally ask myself this ALL THE TIME.)
So I extended, and I think that was the right decision for me. It gave me more time to be able to study my major classes and learn the material, it let me take fun classes on writing sketch comedy and learning about the life of C.S. Lewis, and there are certain life experiences I've had in the past year that are very valuable to me and that I might not have had if I were to have graduated a year earlier.
If there is a downside, it's the financial side of things. I was able to maintain some semblance of a scholarship for as long as I could, but at the end of last April I used up the last of my eight semesters of BYU scholarships, and paying for things has definitely been trickier this year. It's not enough to make me regret my decision (because, again, there are a ton of positives), but it is a bit of a challenge that wouldn't have existed if I'd chosen otherwise.
Good luck to you! The end is in sight!