Opinion | Don’t burn yourself out

Adding on more credit hours may help you add on a second minor, but the burnout from doing so isn’t worth the price.

Signe Nettum, Opinions Columnist

I have always been one to explore and take advantage of and my options at college. My freshman year course work was evidence in that regard — for good measure, I took classes in kickboxing, psychology, and gender in sci-fi class. However, because of my schedule’s layout, I could only squeeze in around 15 credits. 

I know, I know. That sounds like a whiny thing. But for someone who is trying to double major, having a low course load kind of spells disaster in the long run. So, since then, I have been trying to stuff my schedule to the bring every semester, teetering on 16-18 credits each time. 

Now, as COVID-19 has forced me back into my house with nothing to do except homework, sleep, and eat, my parents and I have been looking over my schedule. We all realized that with my interests, I could maybe snag the publishing track alongside my English and creative writing; Journalism and mass communication degree. 

But this feat would mean adding five classes to my workload. I could do it, with a few summer or winter classes here or there, getting rid of extra curriculars and elective classes that keep my head on straight. 

What dawned on me after the conversation was that due to the languidness I had developed with being at home for COVID-19, all of us were under the impression that the rest of my college career would be like this, and that I could do so much more with my extra time. 

Let us put a pause on that unhealthy thinking. 

While I praise you for reaching out and finding classes that satisfy your interests, please, do not use this time to overstuff your semesters. In an effort to relieve some stress for my future self, I tried begging my advisor to let me take 19 credits this semester. Thankfully, she set me on the right course, and I still went against her advice and added one more credit to make my course load an even 18 credits. 

College Cures effectively lists the pros and cons of taking the max amount of credits in one semester. They do not sugar coat their reasoning. It is plain and simple — you will burn yourself out in one way or another. 

I talked with a friend, Kelcy Lawrence, who goes to UW-Madison, over her course load this college year. She had a reputation in high school of taking all of the AP classes she could get her hands on, alongside clubs, sports, and a job. I wondered if she had followed the path of overstuffing her schedule. 

As it turned out, she did not.

“I’m taking 12 credits right now.” 

She learned her freshman year — after taking 16 credit hours — that she would have to balance a lot more on her plate. She is currently in a club, runs another one as a leader, has an internship and is working a part time job. 

“Growing up, I felt like I was not doing enough. But now, well, I am triple majoring, but one class can qualify for all three majors. So it’s not as big as it would seem.” 

I asked her what changed her mind to make sure she balanced school work and her own work. 

“I don’t want to double the stress I have on myself. Even if I have quiet moments now, I won’t have them later.”

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.