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How many credits do you take?

Transferring from Douglas to SFU next semester. I've been taking 9 credits/semester while working at my job 30-35 hrs/week, and getting good grades, not too overwhelmed. Cutting my work hours down to 10-15 hrs/week while at SFU. Trying to decide whether to take 14 or 17 credits next semester.

How many credits do you take per semester, and how many hours do you work?


  • Hey there, welcome to SFU! 

    From what I hear, Douglas class sizes are smaller, and the prof/ta has time to really get into the material and explain everything to you. I think UFV is similar in that way? Where the tutorials and lecture are held at the same time with groups of 20 people so you really have time to ask questions. Idk.

    Anyway, that doesn't really happen here. There are definitely moments where you have to chew through the material on your own time, and space and tutors are kind of limited. 

    Although I may not be completely prepared to answer your question, I can give you an example of my personal experience:

    I started with 3 classes right after high school, and I found it to be overwhelming (my time management skills were nonexistent). 

    I changed my ways after first year - I'm taking 4 classes this semester, 1 4 credit class from elsewhere, and working 5-10 hours per week. I am also committed to extracurricular activities that require me to be away from my studies for about 5-8 hours per week. So far, it's just as busy as last semester when I earned a 3.3 GPA. Sounds super great and manageable right? Except there are a few things you should consider. 

    In my case, I work from home - so there's no commute. I am also taking 3 of the 5 classes online so I cut down on about 2 hours of getting ready and driving to class. So that definitely [barely] gives me enough time to prepare for everything. I can honestly tell you that it would be nearly impossible in my situation to take 4 classes in person, and drive to school and work unless I felt okay with scoring C's that semester. I am definitely not the epitome of a great student, and I feel like there are many things I can still improve on. But life is life and stuff happens so I can't plan on a fantastic schedule all the time. 

    I would strongly suggest to look at the amount of time you spend on things like commuting and smaller time wasters like getting your shit together to go to class, finding a place to sit and actually start studying etc. Log all of those hours, or if you know them already then write them down and then plan a way to schedule 10 hours of study time per class in your week. Leave Saturday and Sunday as 'catch up days'. 

    I would suggest to start with 9 credits and a minimal work schedule, if you get good grades then move up to 12, then up to 15. 

    Good luck, pm me if you have any questions! 

  • I wouldn't do 17 credits right out the gate. It's much different at SFU than my previous university and I ended up really fucking myself by taking too much my first semester. SFU's emphasis was much stronger on finals and midterms, and the teaching less explicitly related to the exams. They expect you to teach yourself everything using the textbook; lectures are for giving examples which reinforce the most basic ideas. Exam questions are generally harder than anything covered in the course material or assignments.

    Regarding study time
    For every hour of lecture SFU expects 2 hours for arts, 3 hours for STEM and 4 hours for MATH.
    That's why a full-time course load is 3 classes:
    [3 classes] * [3 hours in lecture][[3 classes]*[3 hours in lecture]*[3 hours studying]= 36 hours
    with 30 minute breaks, that's what you work at a day job with two 10 minute breaks, and a 30 minute lunch.

    You can usually get by with less, but it's different for everyone. University isn't a place where smart people get ahead, it's a place where people with good work ethic get ahead.

    Most students don't manage their time well. They spend too little time at the start of courses, then cram during exams. This is a bad strategy. You're better to study more early on and work ahead. You can study more leisurely while setting yourself up for easier review later on. You'll be able to relax during exam weeks because you've already done the review. After all, 30 minutes a day Mon-Fri works out to 40 hours over the semester.

    To do well: 
    • Study ahead. At worst, read the textbook sections related to the upcoming lecture before going to class.
    • Write notes from the textbook (read through the chapter once using SQRRR then write notes of the most key parts)
    • Review regularly (24 hours, 7 days, 14 days, 30 days, 60 days). Within 24 hours, rewrite your notes to make them clean and collate information. Use the Cornell note-taking method but without a summary section. Colour code and highlight them using a predecided legend of colours (e.g. green is headers, yellow is definitions, orange is examples). Add whatever info you can from the textbook.
    • Make cheat sheets for each chapter or large section. It is useful for assignments, and makes review much faster and more effective. Also, if the course is a prerequisite it's a great way to get back in shape for the next class/

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