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As an online college student, you might be tempted to register for more classes than you may be able to handle thinking it will lead to graduating sooner. Some students can handle this, but many students get over confident about what they can handle and end up overloading themselves, which can lead to dropping a class, or worse, failing it.

I understand this temptation. There have been many times when I wanted to ‘double-up’ so I could get done with my degree sooner. But is that the best way?

I know some students who have the time to take two classes at once because they are unemployed and want to use the time as best they can. Others do not have any children to care for, so they have more time than those who do. If this is your situation, then doubling up in your classes may be a good option for you, too.

One thing to keep in mind if you do decide to double-up on your classes is it does not change the expectations for your assignments.

Every now and again, I receive an email from a student stating that they are taking two classes and doing their best to keep up with the course expectations. They often end the email message with a statement that says something like, “I just wanted you to know.”

I often wonder if this statement is a subtle way of asking me to ease up on some expectations. It is like them saying, “I am doing the best I can, so you should keep that in mind as you grade my assignments.” I assume this is not their intent, but if it isn’t, why say it?

Where I often see students who overload themselves struggle is in online discussions. Most online college courses have weekly discussions. In the discussions, the student is expected to post an initial response by mid-week, and then respond to at least two of their classmates over the remainder of the week.

Most students, no matter how busy they are, meet these expectations and post their initial response on time and reply to their classmates before the end of the week. But that is just “meeting the expectations.”

When a student meets expectations for an assignment, the grade will most likely be a B or perhaps a low A if it is really good. However, in most cases, a student needs to exceed expectations to earn an A.

Do you see where I am going with this?

If you want to double-up and take two classes or more at a time, you should not expect your instructor to consider this when grading an assignment; the grading expectations remain the same, no matter how busy you may be.

To earn an A in both courses, you have to post your initial response to both courses on time, and then participate in the discussion by responding to your classmates on more than the minimal expectations. That is going to take time and energy to accomplish.

So, what does this mean? Simply this. If you want to double-up on your courses, by all means, do so. Just realize that you may not have the time or energy to do A-level work all the time. You may have to settle for a B in some of your assignments. Settling for a lower grade can be a difficult thing for some students to accept, especially if they are over-achievers.

As with most things in life, we need to maintain a balance. If you want to take more than one class at a time, then consider the fact that you may have to accept lower grades to balance out the time it takes for both classes.

Something to consider before deciding.