The average number of academic credits taken per full-time student in a fall semester at Southern Adventist University is currently at an all-time high, according to Associate Vice President of Financial Administration Doug Frood.
Before the fall of 2017, Frood said he could count on the average amount of credits taken per student being between 13.73 and 13.75 “like clockwork.” Then, in the fall of 2017, the average jumped to 13.86. Frood called 2018 an “off year” with the average dropping to 13.72. In 2019, the average rose again to 13.89. Now, he said the average amount of credits taken per student is 14.05. This is a 0.16 increase from 2019’s average, and, according to Frood, 0.16 is a big jump in credits when looking at 2,000 full-time students.
Frood said the average is typically low at the beginning of the fall semester and begins to dramatically increase in the first two weeks. However, this year he said it was already in the 13.9 range at the beginning of August.
“As the time to get on campus drew near, it was apparent we were going to cross 14,” Frood said.
According to Frood, this could be the result of a generational shift or the advanced efforts of First Year Experience Coordinator Renita Moore and Retention Services Coordinator Cheri Durst.
About five years ago, Durst began to call new and returning students over the summer to advise them on how many credits to take to balance their academic schedules, according to Moore. Then, two summers ago, Moore took over calling the freshmen. This summer, Moore said her team did more academic advising than ever before because incoming freshmen had finished high school early due to COVID-19. As a result, many did not receive proper college preparation. In addition, Moore said, the freshmen were more eager than usual to sign up for classes.
“It was crazy, because this year [the freshmen] were excited to get registered,” Moore said.
This could explain why the current freshmen class is taking more credits than any other freshmen class in Southern’s history, according to Frood. He added that this freshmen class is “probably the smartest class to ever be on this campus” when looking at high school GPAs and ACT scores.
In a recent poll on the Accent’s Instagram account, students were asked if they were taking more credits this semester than they took last semester. Of 276 respondents, 132 said yes and 144 said no, contrasting the actual increase in credits that occurred.
However, some of the students who responded “no” are still taking a higher than average amount of credits. Sophomore mathematics major Dylan Waters is currently taking 17 credits, one less than he took last semester.
“I want to have lighter loads later, so that I’m not super busy when my classes get tougher and more time-consuming,” Waters said.
Most of the students who responded “yes” said they are taking more credits to graduate sooner. Junior mass communication–advertising major Trisney Bocala said she was enrolled in 17 credits last semester and is currently enrolled in 20 credits because she wants to graduate in December of 2021.
Sophomore psychology major Julia Dinger said she is taking more credits this semester to get scholarships and because she knew there would be fewer social events due to COVID-19.
According to Frood, the average number of credits typically decreases by 0.1, or what he calls “10 basis points,” in the winter semester.
“I’m really interested to see what winter is going to bring,” Frood said. “If that normal ten happens, then we’re going to be at 13.95, and that will be a record for winter.”