Editorial: Don’t burn out during your freshman year

Your first year is transition time; don’t stress yourself out by overloading on classes.

Hailee Schievelbein

Hailee Schievelbein

If you’re just starting college, you might think it will be much easier than high school. You have fewer classes, no more extracurriculars and more unstructured time. On the other hand your classes will be harder, and you will have to put more work into them to succeed.

For all the high school overachievers out there, trying to pack in as many classes and activities as you did for your four years of high school will prove to be impossible. 

You only take a handful of classes each semester in college because you’ll have to spend much more time on homework than you used to. There’s no study hall built into your day anymore — you have to choose to study on your own. 

If you’re used to skating by in high school without doing any extra work, you’re going to have a tough transition during your first semester. 

Don’t try to take more credit hours than your adviser suggests, especially in your first year. If you try to pile as many classes as you took in high school, you’re inevitably going to burn out. There’s a reason you’re capped at 20 credits each semester — doing more just isn’t feasible, especially if you have a job or other responsibilities. 

If you need to take more credit hours for whatever reason, take them as a junior or senior, not your first year. By then you’ll know how much you can handle. 

By capping your credit hours, your advisers are watching out for your mental health. There’s no way to perform well in that many classes and still get enough of a life outside of them. You might want to graduate early, and that’s great, but look into other options like summer classes. Increasing your semester credit load can stress you out to the point of exhaustion. 

As a freshman, you shouldn’t feel pressured to fulfill major requirements. You’re meant to find out what interests you in your first year. Don’t feel like you need to have your entire future career mapped out. Focus on figuring out what classes you’re passionate about and what you want to explore more. 

You have another three years to pick classes that are more geared toward your major, and now is a good time to fulfill your general education requirements. Schedule Builder is a great tool to help you categorizing all of the classes the University offers. You can use it to explore options for your major, too. 

College isn’t just a place structured for you to do more work on your own, there is also time to decide what you actually want to study. Don’t feel pressured into making hasty decisions or overworking yourself to get through the next four years. Take a deep breath. You’ve got time.