August 17, 2017

No Two Credits are Alike

Just like our students, our courses and credits bear different characteristics that render them unique, and some better suited to you than others (not unlike roommates….but more on that another time).

You hear a lot of credit numbers at Rutgers. Some numbers are firm: 120 credits to graduate; 12 to be a full-time student. But, how many credits should you take each semester? Well that’s a much more flexible and personal number. For first-semester first-year students, the gold standard is 12-16 credits, which can represent 4-6 classes, but how many YOU should take in any given semester will depend on the composition of your courses, your academic path and progress, and your graduation date.

Understanding the “right” credit number for your first semester can be difficult, so your first-year advisers address some common credit myths and misunderstandings below to help you be better informed: 

Myth: Credits indicate difficulty level (e.g. a 4-credit course is harder than a 3-credit course

Nope! “Credits” is short for “credit hours,” or the amount of time you will spend in the classroom. A 3-credit course typically meets for close to 3 hours in the classroom, which can be spread across 1 day (3 hr block), 2 days (2 80 min periods) or 3 days (3 55 min periods). A 4-credit course typically meets 3-4 times per week for 4+ total hours of classroom time.
Math and science courses typically include recitations, which means more classroom time and more credits, as do elementary language courses and Signature courses, which include discussion groups.
Note: Labs are a trickier calculation. Most three-hour labs are worth 1 credit and longer labs are worth 2 credits.

Myth: My 14 credit schedule and my friend’s 14 credit schedule will demand the same time.

Fact: Sorta kinda…but no. Though you will spend the same amount of time *in* the classroom (as you learned 2 paragraphs ago), how much time you’ll need to dedicate to reading, study groups, tutoring, office hours, and other preparation depends entirely on the nature of the material and your proficiency in it. Expository Writing, and Math and Science courses all have dedicated tutoring programs, but there is academic assistance for all coursework through our Learning Centers ( What’s “hard” is unique to you, so the way that you spend your time and energy must differ!

If I don't take 15 credits each semester, I won't graduate on time.

ALL the nopes! This myth is based on simple math: 120 credits ÷8 semesters =15 credits per semester.

This simple math doesn’t account for 1 credit seminars, 4 credit science and math courses, research, or pre-college credits that you’ve already earned! For these reasons, students take a range of credits based on the demands of the courses and other life constraints (for example, a student studying for the MCAT may take a reduced course load of 12-13 credits in that semester to ensure extra time for effective studying).
We generally recommend fewer credits in the first year, when transition issues are hard to predict and you are still getting used to the pace and requirements of the semester, or as we say, when you are still "learning how to college." It may seem counter-intuitive, but students are often more comfortable taking 15+ credits of upper level major courses in later semesters, because they are fully engaged and focused on the subject matter.
Plus, with a few successful college semesters behind you’ve typically “got this,” where this = organization, preparation, and resources. A quick shout out to the Career Exploration in Arts and Sciences mini-course (1.5 credits) for sophomores and juniors; it’s a great course to help with academic and career planning and provides 1.5 graduation credits.

Myth: Don’t take 1 credit seminars, it’s better to add a 3 or 4 credit course.

Fact: STAAAHP. You're better off balancing your schedule with a Byrne Seminar and/or FIGS than reaching 15 or 16 with only regular classes. Seminars only run 10 weeks and are largely discussion and small assignment-based; they will allow you to focus on those 3 and 4 credit courses without the pressure of additional exams or research papers. Plus, these small seminars are only for first-year students, so you don’t want to miss the opportunity to take them with your classmates! 

What now?
When schedules are released on August 20th, review your schedule for both the total credit number and course composition. You may have 17 credits, not because your first-year advisers want you to take 17 credits, but because we were able to schedule all your choices. Yay! But, 17 credits is still a really heavy start. Boo! We did not want to make the choice of what to drop for you. We would rather you attend the classes during add/drop week and then make an informed decision to drop a class and take 13-15 credits.

Now look, none of this is to say that you shouldn't challenge yourself. But you *should* be making class choices based on your academic goals and skills, rather than obsessing about a number. Questions about whether you’re taking too much or not enough? Ask an adviser!

November 14, 2016

#RUReady4Reg - Your Registration Resource Center

As you prepare for registration this week, we want you to feel empowered and well-informed for your registration! In this spirit, here are some posts to answer questions or concerns that you may have about the registration process.

Can't get a one-on-one advising appointment before registration? Here are some ideas about what to consider, and why to book that post-registration advising appointment anyway!

Degree Navigator

Think you know how to get the most out of Degree Navigator? Think again! Learn how to effectively use this degree audit tool here:

 Course Schedule Planner
And lastly, think the Course Schedule Planner does all the work for you? Sorta kinda.

This amazing schedule creator helps to take the guesswork out of class timing, but lacks the information about YOU to create fool-proof options.
Make sure you've done your CSP homework (and avoid tears on reg night) by reading our full tutorial:

Remember that team SAS Frosh and our colleagues are here to support you as you register for the first time. We are available for quick questions via Live Chat from 10-11pm on the evening that you register!

#RUReady4Reg? Yeah you are!

February 19, 2016

Alumni Voices: "It Just Didn't Fit Anymore"

Another of our Alumni Voices, Alexandra Milan (SAS '13), shows us that one of the forms of transfer shock or sophomore slump may be doubting an academic path that was once very clear:

I transferred to Rutgers after completing my AA at my hometown community college. I had double majored in psychology and philosophy and loved it. Naturally I thought that I would continue on this path at Rutgers.

My first semester, I took the class that changed my mind: Philosophy of Perception. It was so different than the philosophy courses I had studied before. All I could think was, “Why is everyone arguing? You are all just saying the same thing and none of it is actually helpful in the real world!” When it came time to write my midterm paper, I had absolutely nothing to say. So I had to drop the class!

The next semester I attempted another philosophy class. While I ultimately did well, I found that I was not connecting with the discipline like I had in the past. It just didn’t fit anymore.

I was set on Psychology as my major but needed a new minor to fulfill my requirements. Eventually, I decided to go for a criminology minor within the sociology department. I had considered studying criminal justice in my first year of college, so I knew I was interested in the subject and already had some of the requirements met. If I hadn’t given this a shot, I wouldn’t have taken Race Relations.

We had in depth discussions about social injustices plaguing our society. Our class was diverse, and I was able to hear so many different perspectives on the issues. My gut told me the answers to fighting these injustices lie within the educational system.

After graduating, I moved across the country to do AmeriCorps in Seattle, supporting high school students on a campus bursting at the seams with culture and diversity. It was the most significant year of my life to date. Now, I am pursuing a career working in college diversity programs and applying for the University of Washington's Leadership in Higher Education program.

Although I am not pursuing a career in psychology or criminology, the things I learned during my education helped me understand myself, the world around me, and my place in it. Making this change was terrifying, but even on the most challenging days I am thankful that I get to do something I am truly passionate about.

Alexandra Nora Milan
SAS, Class of 2013

Remember to utilize campus resources if you're experiencing Transfer Shock or the Sophomore Slump!