As students, we’re all aware that our school has a credit hour restriction. For underclassmen, the restriction is 19 credit hours. For upperclassmen, the restriction is 20 credit hours. While we’re not sure exactly how many credit hours the standard is, the cost of attendance for students is budgeted with thirteen credit hours every semester in mind for each student. This is probably four three-credit classes and one one-credit class. However, many students on campus have never taken just the minimum number of classes and will possibly take at least 15 credit hours each semester. Since starting my time at Eastern, I have never taken fewer than 18 credit hours. I am currently taking 20 credit hours. As a sophomore here, it was challenging for me to be able to register for 20 credit hours. The only reason I was able to do so was because I had done well the previous semester and someone in the office of records and registration was able to see that and allowed me to take an extra credit. Looking at this situation, we should not have credit hour restrictions.
Credit hour restrictions keep students from going above and beyond. Personally, I am taking three 300 level natural science courses this semester and I have not found this very challenging. I do so much work outside of the classroom, but I still find that I have time to do many other things with my life such as research, work, clubs and internships. When I was thinking about which classes I was interested in taking in the fall, I was disappointed because many of the classes I have to take for my major are the ones that I think of first and other interesting classes I might want to take are not those which I get to consider. If I were able to take more than 20 credit hours, I would more than likely be able to take some of the classes that I want to take without having to think about how much time might be required on my end. Perhaps the university will grant me permission to take 23 credit hours, however I am not sure of this and I don’t want to have to talk to someone, wait for them to review my transcript and decide how many classes I am allowed to take. This process takes a lot of time and it can cause students to end up feeling discouraged and unwilling to reach out and try their best.
This is also a way that the university incites power and control over its students. The majority of students at this university are adults who are legally responsible for all of their decisions. When the university decides how many classes I am allowed to take, they take away part of my autonomy, which I deserve to keep. I understand that the university is interested in keeping students from failing, but at the end of the day, each student is responsible for their own failure. If a person uses their autonomy foolishly and fails a course, that is a consequence of their behavior and they do not have anyone else to blame for it.
Removing a credit hour restriction also gives students an opportunity to find their limits. Many students, such as myself, haven’t found our academic limits even with taking over the maximum number of credit hours I am allowed. I am sure that if there were no restrictions, I would take my classes, learn more things and find out what I could handle. Finding my maximum potential is something I personally value and I am sure that I am not alone in that.
I do not like to be told what I can and cannot do without having a good reason. I also do not like for other people to decide what I do and do not learn. Giving students a credit hour “suggestion” would allow students to think about where they are, how much money they want to spend and how successful other students have been taking that many credits without deciding what students could learn and how many classes they could take at the time. College is about deciding what we get to learn and what we get to do with our lives. By having credit hour restrictions, we take away many students’ drive to learn.