Taking two classes at a time isn't inherently difficult. It's up to the students to manage time and make the effort. When I enrolled at SNHU I took a single class to get up to speed on this whole online college student thing, but I've been doubled-up since. Until now.
About two weeks into the term that just ended, I knew I needed a change. I just finished up ENG-329: Fiction Writing Workshop and LIT-319: Shakespeare (recaps coming in the next couple of weeks). Around week three, working on revisions for my short story, I realized I wanted nothing to do with Shakespeare. Forget Shakespeare; I wanted to work on my story!
I thought about my upcoming Intermediate and Advanced Fiction Workshops and knew each would be best by itself. At this point, I'm down to seven courses:
- ENG-349: Intermediate Fiction Workshop
- ENG-359: Advanced Fiction Workshop
- ENG-350: The English Language
- ENG-421: New Media Writing & Publishing
- LIT-300: Literary Theory
- LIT-450: Seminar in American Literature
- IDS-404: Pop Culture
I was scheduled to double-up and finish in four terms with the final term being a single class, so I thought about how I could rearrange the classes then contacted my advisor.
How to Change Your Schedule
- Contact your advisor.
- That's it. There is no step two.
Your advisor can handle all of this for you, and I strongly suggest doing just that. Give yourself plenty of time to work this out. I have a wonderful advisor who has been on the ball for the past year for me. It still took almost a month to make the schedule change. While I understand it's possible for students to make scheduling changes themselves, I am more comfortable having my advisor handle it. If you're at all unsure about the process, just ask your advisor to take care of it. Before you make any changes, think about your financial aid situation.
Financial Aid Considerations
This is where things get tricky. I'm about to cover an area for which you absolutely must not rely only on me. I hope this all helps, but I cannot say that it will apply to everyone, so please, please, talk to the Financial Aid department before you make schedule changes. Just use my experience as an aid to understanding.
In order for financial aid to apply, you must be at least a part-time student. Part-time requires at least two courses per trimester. When you're doubled-up, you're taking four classes per trimester and all is well. Take fewer than four, and you might have to do a little juggling.
I was scheduled to take two classes each term through 20/21 Term 2, and then a single class in 20/21 Term 3. I sent this rearrangement to my advisor:
19/20 Term 6 — 1 class
20/21 Term 1 — 2 classes
20/21 Term 2 — 1 class
20/21 Term 3 — 2 classes
20/21 Term 4 — 1 class and done
I learned from the Financial Aid department that the plan made me ineligible for my financial aid disbursement in the final term, and I'd have to pay out of pocket. I wasn't considering the trimesters, which I've delineated in the list below. We worked out an alternate pattern.
19/20 Term 6 — 1 class (ENG-349)
20/21 Term 1 — 2 classes (ENG-350, LIT-300)
20/21 Term 2 — 1 class (ENG-359)
20/21 Term 3 — 1 class (LIT-450)
20/21 Term 4 — 2 classes (ENG-421, IDS-404)
Having at least two classes in each trimester allows me to keep racking up student loan debt. I would have finished with Term 3, but I'm adding just one extra term for the ability to take three classes individually.
In the End
The relief I've felt over the past two weeks has been palpable. I've been enjoying myself, but I don't think I realized just how stressed I've been! Knowing that I have one academic responsibility—creative writing, the reason I went back to school—is exciting. I'm excited about the term in a way that I haven't been in quite a while. I'll elaborate in the upcoming recap, but my one big disappointment with ENG-329 was that I couldn't put all my focus into it. ENG-349 won't have that problem.
Unless you're chasing a specific deadline, adding two months to reduce stress is well worth it. I've arranged to have ENG-349 and ENG-359 (both fiction workshops) taken on their own. The net effect? An extra two months required to finish. Totally worth it. Nobody will ever know or care how long it took to finish the degree. There's no reason not to rearrange the schedule to get the most out of school and reduce stress.