If you are a freshman in college (or soon-to-be) my best advice is to find a way to take your first semester off so that you can focus on acclimating yourself to the college environment. However, for a lot of college students this just isn’t an option for them financially. I have experience as a full time (15 credit hour) university student and would like to share with you my personal recommendations based on credit hours.
To break it down, most classes on average are worth 3 credit hours. For each class/3 credit hours you will need about 2 to 3 hours each week additionally set aside for studying and assignments. I find this to be the best recipe for success. Not only that, you want to make sure you have set enough time aside to re-cooperate from long lectures and stressful exams.
In general my recommendation per credit hour are…
3 to 6 credit hours: max 40 hours per week
6 to 9 credit hours: max 35 hours per week
9 to 12 credit hours: max 30 hours per week
12 to 15 credit hours: max 25 hours per week
15+ credit hours: 15-20 hours per week
At my university we are not allowed to do more than 15 credit hours without a waiver. With that many classes, it is imperative that you stay focused on your grades and not falling off track.
My first semester of college I worked 20 hours per week with 14 credit hours and it was very manageable. Last semester, my fourth semester of college, I worked between 25 to 30 hours per week and it almost seems to be pushing the limits. I have decreased for spring semester down to around 20 hours a week to ensure success for the final semester of my “junior year”. You would be surprised how much of a difference an extra 5 hours can really make. Think about it, you have to spend time driving to and from the job, getting ready, etc. Not to mention the added stress and fatigue with the more you work.
It may seem tempting to try and work more and make more money, but your GPA is forever and you can always make more money once you have your degree. If you make grades you aren’t proud of they will still be on your transcript. And once you bring your GPA down it is very difficult to recover.
This also speaks for hours spent in an internship. Don’t set yourself up for failure by signing up for more than you can handle. If you aren’t sure how much working will affect you then start with fewer hours than recommended and ask for another weekly shift if time permits.
I hope this was helpful and that your future (and current) college semesters treat you well. Subscribe for more college advice and leave a comment with how many credit hours/work hours you juggle!