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Managing an absurd 1st year engineering load

  1. Jun 23, 2013 #1
    So I've got myself set up for a pretty daunting first year. My courses:
    Calc I
    Phys Calc I
    Gen Chem I
    CPSC Programming Engineers
    CPSC Engineering Graphics
    English I (Actually very hard)

    Now I think I'd be able to pull off a decent/good GPA if I sacrifice my life completely...but I don't want to do that. The above is a total of about 21-22 credits.

    How can I pull off at least a B+/A- GPA If I want to be able to
    1) Go out on either friday or saturday night, not both
    2) Be able to get up every morning, go to the gym (3-4 days a week), eat my breakfast in peace and have about 3-4 hours a day of "free time" for books or web browsing or socializing (Everything non academic comes into this)
    3) Not have to cram and make sacrifices for midterms unless I personally make a huge procrastination mistake or something?

    Just wondering your guys thoughts on someone being exposed to a first year courseload who wants to get the most out of it
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 23, 2013 #2
    You should have an idea of your limits, but if you want to play it safe, you're going to have to make the necessary sacrifices. Do you really want to risk your future just to have a few hours of enjoyment you can make up for later, after you finish your degree?
  4. Jun 23, 2013 #3
    That's not the point though, I don't want all of uni to be "heyy I'll waste 4 years of the social/fun part of my life just to get my degree", I want to have what experience I can WHILE doing well. Surely that's possible, no?
  5. Jun 23, 2013 #4

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    Why so many credit hours? I suspect it's you who are doing this to yourself rather than the school forcing you to take this heavy a load. If the semester hasn't started yet, consider dropping one of those classes to get down to a more manageable course load.
  6. Jun 23, 2013 #5
    I don't see anything absurd about your first year load. Also, how could you possibly know that you'll have no life if you haven't even started? Just as PhizKid stated, you'll need to make sacrifices. However, these sacrifices do not need to be made all the time. You'll have to occasionally sacrifice a Friday night here and there, but there's always Saturday night.

    By the way, I'm assuming an entire "year" and not just a "semester". Your wording is a bit ambiguous.
  7. Jun 23, 2013 #6


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    If it's 22 for the whole year, yea that's easy. IF it's 21 for a semester...then no you won't have a life and there is no way around that unless you plan to fail every course you take like I did!
  8. Jun 23, 2013 #7

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    Good point. I assumed "semester". 21-22 credit hours in a semester is a bit much, particularly for the very first semester in college. A full load is 16-18 hours. Some people can handle more, but it's not for everyone.

    On the other hand, 21-22 credit hours over the span of a year is a rather light load.

    So which is it, Martin?
  9. Jun 23, 2013 #8
    Why do you believe that your English course will be difficult? My first semester in uni, I took calc 1 honors, calc physics 1, gen chem 1 honors, and english 1 honors, and I breezed through them without a problem. I knew I could have taken an extra course, which is what I did the following semester and still got As, albeit not all of them being technical modules.
  10. Jun 23, 2013 #9
    congratulations im not you, in all of these courses these will be the first times im exposed to them
  11. Jun 23, 2013 #10
    It was my first exposure to them too. My point was that I knew what I could handle and adjusted accordingly, so you should be able to do the same
  12. Jun 23, 2013 #11

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    That's 12 to 14 credit hours or so. The OP is talking about 21 to 22.

    Martin, it makes a huge difference if that 21-22 hours is the total for your freshman year. You should be able to handle 11 credit hours in a semester. That is a light load. It might not even be enough to qualify as a full-time student. If that 21-22 hours is your load for one semester, that's overload.

    So which scenario does that 21 to 22 credit hours represent?
  13. Jun 23, 2013 #12
    So you're taking 3 courses per semester? Relax, you'll be fine...
  14. Jun 23, 2013 #13
    But 15 'rigorous' credits and 15 'regular' credits require different calibers of study ethics. Anyway, that's why the following semester I added an extra course. It all depends on the coursework and the student's abilities, neither of which we can make judgments from, given what we know about the OP and his/her academic institution.

    Another option would be to split the courses for the winter/summer sessions, if possible.
  15. Jun 23, 2013 #14


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    You can sleep when you're dead. I think it's terrible that college is taking so much away from your social life. There ought to be a law.

    If you want to earn an undergrad engineering degree in four years, then a course load of 22 hours is about what you can expect from any institution.

    The courses you listed are about what any first semester engineering undergrad will experience. If you took advanced courses in high school, you probably have already been exposed to calculus, chemistry, physics, if not eng. graphics. I took those courses in high school and it made the transition to college much easier. I had some classmates who walked into these same courses without prior exposure, and, needless to say, they had to work harder to keep good grades.

    Look on the bright side. You have not stated what particular engineering field you hope to major in, but regardless, after the first semester, your courses will probably get much harder than these. Make the tough choices now about adjusting yourself to college and making the necessary changes to your daily or weekly routine. It will save a lot of trouble later in college when the going gets tougher.
  16. Jun 23, 2013 #15

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    That's nonsense. Many, maybe most, schools require advisor approval if one is to take over 18 hours in a semester and place an absolute maximum of 21 hours for undergrads.

    Everyone, please stop guessing whether the OP's 22 hours represents a per semester load or the total for the freshman year. There is a huge difference between the two.

    martinlematre, you need to clarify what you wrote in the opening post.
  17. Jun 23, 2013 #16
    It's an intense engineering program. Max credits here for science students are 18, and this is the only program that passes that (at 21 first semester and 22 2nd)

    The second semester is:
    Calc II
    Linear Algebra
    Chem II
    Phys II
    Engineering Physics I
    Engl II
  18. Jun 23, 2013 #17


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    To the op,

    I think with a course load that intense, you're going to have to be either exceedingly efficient in your studying or you're going to have to realize that 3-4 hours of free time per day might be unreasonable if you intend on getting the grades you wish to get.
  19. Jun 23, 2013 #18
    yeah I kind of figured that. I just know theres students that study bad and give courseloads like this a stigma because they juts reread their notes 5000 times. I like to make things make sense
  20. Jun 23, 2013 #19


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    A lot of schools must not have gotten that memo.

    In the US, accredited engineering programs must have a minimum total of 132 semester hours of coursework in order to grant an undergrad degree. A lot of institutions go beyond this minimum level and impose additional requirements, like project or thesis work. Some of this work will involve doing labs, so not all of the OP's time will be spent taking lectures. Due to changing requirements and the need to cover additional material, there has been some talk whether 4-year programs should be stretched to include an additional year. Certainly, the colleges and universities wouldn't fight this since it means additional revenue.
  21. Jun 23, 2013 #20


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    A few things
    -It is usual for engineering majors to take 5-7 courses per term. So this load is usual.
    -Most people vary there loads a bit different terms.
    -Calling this an absurd load is just a being dramatic. If you believe it is absurd that probably means don't do it.
    -You should weigh the pros and cons of taking an easy first term. The adjustment is difficult for some.
    -Arguing back and forth about the difficulty is silly. It depends on the particular courses and individual.
    -These all seem to be freshman courses.
    -Many students place into all sophomore or honors courses which might be much harder.
    -At the same time sometimes regular freshman classes are harder because the school does not care about the quality.
    -Some people tend to slack off more and do worse in easy terms.
    -The most worrying thing is you have no previous exposure to English, chemistry, physics, math, or computers.
    That is unlikely to be literally true, but if it is you should take all remedial classes.
    If you mean you are not "well prepared" that is common and can be worked through, but use caution if you are not prepared for all classes, student in that situation have trouble.
    If you mean that you know less than you hope to after the term, that is to be expected.
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