How to Take a Large Course Load

Four Parts:Acquiring the CoursesManaging Your TimeHandling Excessive MaterialUsing Your Resources

While the number of classes students usually take at university varies from system to system, the normal recommended course load is generally somewhere between 3 and 6 classes. But what if you need to speed up your graduation or want to fit in extra subjects? Taking a full load is already a challenge but are you up for the challenge of taking 7 or 8 courses? How about 10 courses? If you're trying to tackle a larger than normal course load, some tricks and study techniques can help along the way.

Part 1
Acquiring the Courses

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    Check the rules. Before even getting to take an excessive course load, you must first ensure you're eligible to take it. Not every university allows students to take 7+ courses. Hence you must get permission from your registrar.
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    Look for loopholes. Even if the rules disallow the course load you want to take, some universities might make exceptions. This is much more likely in a smaller, private institution than in a large public one with set rules, but see how far a little negotiation can get you. Explain your reasons and situation to the registrar, and if any of the following apply to you, you might increase your odds:
    • Having a high GPA vastly improves the odds as it shows your registrar that you are capable of taking the courses.
    • Having taken similar courses previously can help.
    • Having a reason or purpose will aid in getting your desired courses. Only provide this kind of reason if it's true and valid, and if needed.
    • Showing the registrar that you already have some topics covered for a certain course make them more likely to think you can handle it.
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    Plan your schedule. You need to make sure that the course load won't stop you from fulfilling the basic time requirements for each class. Make a time-table, and keep the following tips in mind:
    • Avoid overlapping courses if possible.
    • Do not take too many back-to-back courses. A general rule of thumb is having a 60 minute break every 4 hour of classes.
    • Do not forget an extra break for lunch and dinner.
    • It is better to have your courses spread out over the 5 days then packing them up onto 3 or 4 days. It promotes long-term memory and spreads the work across the week.
    • Take shorter classes of 1 hour, 3 times a week rather 1 class for 3 hours once a week.

Part 2
Managing Your Time

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    Make an agenda. With several classes, it's especially important to know when you have a test, when you have an appointment, when you have assignments due. Whether it's a physical copy or Google calendar, a solid schedule is needed to plan your day. Allocate 15 minutes at night to plan the day ahead.
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    Prepare if you have overlapping classes. Overlapping classes should generally be avoided, but if you end up with any, you need to make sure you can still get the required material.
    • Some options include:
      • Buying or borrowing a recorder for the semester. Record the lecture for one course and attend the other course.
      • Having a friend to take notes or record the lecture.
      • Listening to an online recording, if one is posted.
    • Immediately after your course ends, listen to the missed lecture recording. It is important to not postpone as you will have other work to do.
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    Use your time wisely and stay current with your studies.
    • Listen to lecture recordings throughout the day. When commuting, walking in between classes, eating lunch prior to sleeping.
    • Read your lecture slides 3-4 times a week. It is very important to rely on the long-term memory rather than short-term memory. Especially when it comes to a lot of material, short term memory will not suffice.

Part 3
Handling Excessive Material

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    Avoid reading when it's not necessary. Despite it being counter-intuitive advice, do not do the readings unless it is absolutely necessary. Most lecturers have the key points on their slides and it is possible to get As and not reading. Before you avoid all the readings, confirm with your professor how much of the material is coming from the readings. It varies from courses to courses.
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    Avoid any activity that is optional. Focus on what can make use of your time.Time is very valuable when taking several courses.

Part 4
Using Your Resources

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    Do not hesitate for help if need be. It is a skill to be able to get help when you need it rather than being a show-off. Dropping a course should be a last resort option as it is against your plan. However, if you do drop the course, you will be ahead of your classmates when you take it again.
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    Start early and work ahead. Before classes begin, get ahead of the material and stay ahead of the material. Staying one step ahead is crucial for not falling behind.
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    Prepare for any time conflicts. Overlapping midterms or final exams are common when taking excessive courses. It is possible to reschedule your overlapping tests with a simple email to your professor. Proof will be required in most cases.


  • Meditation when you are stressed is a great tool to reduce stress.
  • Exercising will provide vitality and improve productivity.


  • Excessive courses may increase your tuition, refer to your college to find out.
  • You will certainly lose sleep and social life to maintain an excessive course load.
  • Beware to not let you recorder be stolen when recording lectures.
  • A high level of self-discipline is required for taking an excessive course load if you do not have amazing talent or high IQ.

Article Info

Categories: College and University Study Techniques