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5 reasons Why NOT to take more than 3 classes in MS first semester?

As an international student, after you come to US for MS, you would be registering for classes. Some of the students would be planning to graduate early; they might plan on taking 4 classes or 12 credits every semester and get it done in one year or may be 3 semesters.  Let me share some thoughts on why Not to take more than 9 credits or 3 classes in first semester.

5 Reasons on Why NOT to take full load like 12 credits or 4 classes.

Typically, international students are supposed to enroll full time to be in legal status in US. Full time enrollment depends on the school. Typically it is 3 classes or 9 credits. Some schools have 6 credits as full time..so it depends. Either case, it seems very tempting to take 4 classes and get it done quickly, because most of us back in our home country would have taken more four classes and have done fine. Here are the reasons:

  1. New Education System: Education system in America is different from your home country system. You have to very careful, it takes a semester to understand how stuff works in US schools, if you take too many classes, you might get screwed in some classes. Read Education system in US vs India
  2. Graduate level Classes: In MS or MBA, you are taking 700 level classes(read Course numbering  MS  in US 100 – 900 level). Graduate level classes require you to do more work. There may be many group projects, Homework, exams, etc. It is lot more work than you think…
  3. Away from Home and friends: Some of you may have hard time adjusting to the new life as you are away from Home and friends. You may be nostalgic. If you have too much stuff to do, you might get stressed and may not be able to perform well.
  4. Student Organizations: There are so many things to do when you are in School  in  US.  Usually in first semester you may join student orgs and other socializing stuff and you need to put some time into it.  Read: 8 Reasons to join Student Org
  5. Cooking, Apartment, Personal Stuff: Some of you may live in dorms, some of you may live with friends. There is so much stuff that’s going on with your life. If you have never cooked, you may be learning that, managing your finances, dealing with apartment stuff….so, all these needs some time to adjust and you need a semester to get hold of all these

I think these are some very common reasons. Overall, after first semester, you will know how the system works and you will have adjusted with culture, work load, etc and be prepared for taking more classes. If you plan to graduate soon, you can offset the first semester less load by taking an Interim class (between Fall and spring or spring and summer ). The point is, do not get over excited and  take more classes in first semester… know the rules and system before you do anything. Remember, if you screw up and get a bad grade, it stays on your transcript for you life !

Any experiences to share of taking overload  ?

Image credit : http://www.businessweek.com/careers/managementiq/archives/info%20overload%20pic.jpg


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  1. Very useful article. I have enrolled for MS in information systems for fall 2016. Planning to do 9 credit hours in my first semester and 12 in my second semester . So you guys think 12 is second is very much manageable ? Waiting for your replies

    • Nayana,
      Well, it totally depends on the courses you take. Once you take first 9 credits, you will get the idea on the load and how to choose for next semester. You can always check with your seniors on the course load and committment some require…Dont worry too much about next semester now, just focus on current semester and how well you can handle. Good Luck !

  2. Hi ,

    All points in this post are valid, but as santosh as mentioned it depends on the individual. I took four courses in the first semester, it was a bit hectic but was easily manageable. And I think 4 courses in the first semester is better than doing 4 in the last semester when you will need time to search for jobs and prepare for interviews. Moreover I believe that the initial enthusiasm and motivation you have will be more during the first semester and you wont feel the course load so much.

    • Nachi,
      Agree with you, it all depends on the individual and how one can cope situation…Also, it depends on the education system one comes from, especially from countries like India, where the system is a little different. I always felt that, first semester is a time to get to know everything and how system works and if you plan to graduate, you can take an extra course next semester and for subsequent semesters to avoid last semester full load.

  3. Hi eveyone . please can any one tell me that how much would cost on 2 year accounting digree or IT ) for Dallas County Residents

  4. I’ve taken 4 courses (12 credits) in my first semester, and I never had a problem, and got 3.75. You can’t generalize this, it depends on person to person. On the other hand, there is a lot of advantage in taking 4 courses.

  5. Hi Kumar,
    Wow This post has proved to be very useful for me. Thank you so much.
    Now I would act upon your advice and will take limited number of classes which I could handle with ease. Your reasons are very good.
    As you said, I will increase the work load with time.
    I appreciate this.

  6. Agree with you. I took 3 classes(9 credits) in my first semester. As the semester progressed, I realized that I was able to handle most courses and hence in the next semester I registered for 12 credits. I am even thinking of doing 15 this coming semester because that would allow me to gradaute without carrying over just 1 course.
    Thanks for your post! you rock 🙂


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