The case for 12 credits

Every time I register for classes, I feel obligated to take 16 credits. I have this construed idea that if I’m enrolled in 12 credits that I’m somehow not taking my education seriously. Often I find myself developing a rather shallow  relationship with my classes in which my primary focus is to complete my work rather than learning. Instead of engaging with the course, I have become fixated on checking off the next task on my schedule. This is frustrating because I want to delve deeper into my courses but, like most Luther students, I’m constantly under a time crunch to complete my work. 

“Often I find myself developing a rather shallow relationship with my classes in which my primary focus is to complete my work rather than learning.””

— Martin Donovan('20)

Last fall I enrolled in 12 credits and I quickly discovered that this course load allowed me to engage with my courses. I had the time to methodically go through my work and make connections that extended beyond the topic at hand. 

In many ways this semester embodied a true liberal arts education that is going “beyond immediate interests and present knowledge into a larger world”, as Luther’s mission statement puts it. Besides having more time to embrace my courses, I also was more productive because my energy was less divided. This is not to say that I was working significantly less, nor am I advocating for easy workloads. 

Some may associate taking 12 credits with laziness or apathy, but this assumes that increasing your workload translates to productiveness. Having room in the day for leisure and rest can potentially make people more productive and creative, as sociologist Alex Soojung-Kim Pang argues. Many of us are steadfast in the belief that a more intensive workload will translate to success. This idea is entrenched into many students’ psychies, but I’m beginning to question this widely-held belief. Many of us associate productiveness with the sheer amount of work we complete, but we need to start thinking about productiveness as the quality of our end product. 

Additionally, I believe that taking less classes does not mean I am spending less time on work. In fact, I am actually able to spend more time on my individual classes because I am able to have an open schedule. 

Another aspect of education that students do not always consider is the vocational aspect. If I have more time in my schedule not spent going to classes, I can pick up new opportunities such as an internship, which benefits my education by providing me with hands-on experience in the field that I am studying. Students sometimes get so caught up in their 16 credits that they don’t realize the other benefits of a Luther education that they’re missing, such as access to a large alumni network that can help students acquire work experience. 

There are many reasons why taking 12 credits credits is the way to go, but we first have to evaluate the way we view productivity in our educational enviroment.

Opinions expressed in columns and letters are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Chips or organizations with which the author(s) are associated.

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