Campus News

Editorial: Why a 17-credit limit frustrates me

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 IMG_0475 This is the start of my fifth year at Bethel. (Well, it’s the third full-time year, I suppose, but who’s counting?) This means I’ve registered for classes a total of 10 times so far.
And every year, one thing looms in my face: the ever-dreaded credit limit.
It’s an overachiever’s nightmare. Bethel allows us to sign up for between 12 and 17 credit hours at a flat tuition rate to be considered full-time. Anything less than 12 will net you part-time status. Anything more than 17, and you have to pay a fee.
But here’s my dilemma. Most (not all, I know, but most) classes at Bethel are three credit hours, which is not a big deal since three hours per week is pretty reasonable for a class.
But if there’s one thing I learned from 12 years of math, it’s that 17 is not divisible by three.
In other words, if all the classes I need/want to take are three credits, I essentially have to either pay a fee for one more credit, or completely forgo an entire class because I have 15 and I can’t fit it in.
“Well, just add a two-credit class!” I could, but that doesn’t change the fact that the class that I need to take is three credits, and I can’t fit it in.
I don’t pretend to understand the logistics of planning a massive academic undertaking such as running a college. I truthfully do not. I’m sure there are literally thousands of variables all intertwining to make this place run like it does. But I can’t help but wonder.  Why can’t we add one measly credit to the limit?
It’s not like I’m asking to be able to take 25 credits for the same rate as 12. I understand professors and staff need to be paid, and there has to be some balance in scheduling. But all I’m asking for is one more credit to the limit, so I can fit in six three-credit classes rather than sitting there longingly staring at the class I’d like to add but unfortunately can't.
I know there are options. I could audit the class. I could wait until a different semester. I could pay the darn fee. But the fact is none of these hurdles would be necessary with just one extra credit.
The least I can ask for is an explanation as to why such an unwieldy upper limit was chosen. I could understand 18. I could even understand 15, since it would still divide evenly. But 17 just seems odd.
“But what about those of us who want two credit classes?” I can hear you asking, “18 credits would throw that off balance!” True. If you took five three-credit classes and one two-credit class, you’d be left with the infamous 17. But at that point, you could add a one-credit class if you felt the need for perfection, or stick with the 17. Because let’s face it, whether the class is two credits or three credits, it doesn’t really make all that much of a difference as far as content. You’re taking a class regardless of how many credits it has, and you’re getting the same content regardless of the credits it has.
In other words, with an 18 credit limit, you could take six classes no matter what the credit distribution was. But with 17 as the upper limit, the only way to take six classes is to take five three-credit classes and one two-credit, which excludes a vast majority of course offerings from being available.
Like I said, I get it. Running a college is hard. Keeping track of all these students is hard. But I really truly do not understand this limit. Please, I need an explanation, even if it’s just for curiosity’s sake.
Because, as any good student would, I really, really want extra credit.
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