By Sumiko Martinez on June 9, 2016

By now you might have heard about “15 to Finish” – basically, that you should take at least 15 credit hours per semester of college in order to graduate on time. Full time enrollment is usually considered 12 credits/semester, but there are a lot of great reasons to take on 15 credits/semester instead.

Why should I sign up for more classes?

That’s a good question. It sounds kind of crazy, signing up for extra work, right? It actually makes a lot of sense, though.

  1. It’s not really “extra” work – you’d need to take the same number of classes to graduate either way, so you might as well get it done a little bit faster!
  2. It can save you money! Steve Rogers talks about ways to save money on college expenses, and one of these is taking advantage of “plateaued tuition.” That’s when it costs the same amount to take 12 credit hours as it does for 15 or even 18 credit hours. It’s essentially getting one free class every semester – which adds up to one entire year of college for free. We’re talking $10,000 to $20,000 or more worth of savings here!
  3. Taking a full course load can also help you stay connected to your campus community, which is an important factor in completing college. Full-time college students are more likely than part-time students to actually graduate from college.

What does it really look like?

Okay, enough with the reasons for this. What would it actually look like for you to sign up for 15 credits every semester?  First, let’s talk about what a “credit” means:

Credit Hour: A unit used to measure the amount of schoolwork a student has enrolled for or completed. In a credit hour system, each course is assigned a specific number of credit hours. This number is usually based on the number of classroom meetings per week. Thus, a course that meets for one hour, three times a week, is a three credit hour course.”

So basically, for a 3-credit course, you’ll spend 3 hours a week in the class, plus approximately 4-6 hours per week outside of class doing the reading and homework. Keep this in mind when you plan your schedule.

Here are a few examples just to illustrate the point. Make sure that you work with your academic adviser to set your actual schedule; these are only examples of what a 15-hour semester looks like. 

dixie schedule

Since Dixie has a mix of 1-credit, 3-credit, and 4-credit classes, this may look intimidating but still only adds up to 15 credits/semester.

slcc schedule

Keep in mind that many science classes have a required 1-credit lab that goes with the lecture, and you’ll need to build both into your schedule.

westminster schedule

Many colleges that have a required “core” already build in a 15+ credit/semester course load to help you graduate on time.

Keep in mind that these examples are just that – examples. They aren’t hard-and-fast rules of what you will actually take at each of these colleges, but this should help to give you an idea of what a 15+ credit hour semester would look like!

Sumiko Martinez is a Community Outreach Officer with the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA). Learn more about Sumiko at, and connect with her on Twitter @SumikoMartinez or Instagram @sumiko.martinez.