Many people are probably aware of the notion that there is a culture of overloading at Principia College. Quite often, dinner conversations are centered around students’ workloads. It’s also not uncommon to hear about students taking 22 semester hours, all while playing a sport, having a position on house board, and being involved in other activities on campus.
The reasons for overloading differ from student to student, but there is a common theme that comes up among them. Briggs DeLoach, a senior and double major in political science and history, said that he has always overloaded since becoming a student at Principia. “I think we are really fortunate that we go to a smaller school that has a lot of opportunities… What we need to do is to fill different roles,” he said. He listed various roles and activities that he has been involved in: house board, track, cross country, and PAC, among many others. DeLoach is not the only one who gets excited about taking on various roles on campus. Senior Shirley Moihloe is majoring in political science, while minoring in economics and business. She said, “I am an active person and passionate about a lot of things, so I am always trying to take advantage of all the opportunities when they present themselves.”
However, the main reason why students overload credit-wise is that they want to graduate on time. Does this mean that four years is not enough to complete the required credits for graduation? Not usually. Often, students who know what interests them when they enroll in college take the required courses for their major right away. They don’t feel pressure or the need to overload as they advance. In some cases, students underload during their freshman and sophomore years, and are thus pressured to overload later in college. But the case is very different for double and triple majors. Sophomore Madison Flannery said that she has been taking 20 credit hours or more per semester since she became a student at Principia. She is double majoring in theater and creative writing, and said that she has to overload in order to graduate on time. Sophomore Sara Stephenson said that her reason for overloading is to allow her to finish her biology major and sustainability minor on time. However, she said that it isn’t a problem because she is used to having a busy schedule.
Although not all students share the experience of overloading, a narrative that is shared among many students is that Principia fosters a culture of overloading. DeLoach cautioned that this culture can be bad at times. “It feels that there’s a culture of ‘business,’ and it can be dangerous if you keep taking on things; you never have time for or you do not have free time and pull all-nighters all the time…that is kind of seen as normal and you have to realize that it is not normal.” Flannery concurred and added, “If someone is overloading I would suggest that they make sure they know they can handle it before they do it.”
Arguably, overloading and succeeding at doing so is a skill that not everybody has. It requires time management and the ability to balance schoolwork and extra-curricular activities. Moihloe said that it can be extremely difficult to find balance and be able to give 100 percent to everything. Senior Abbie Steckler said that she plans her day and uses every chunk of time that she gets to do her schoolwork and other activities. “The balance isn’t that difficult,” said Steckler. “I’ve found that if I make the commitment to do a certain amount of activities, I tend to find time for all of it. Also, probably the most useful thing for me is to schedule in leisure time. So I tell myself that I will work on homework for an hour and a half and then I get a 10 minute Facebook break, or at the end of the day I can watch an episode of TV. So I know I have those things to look forward to.”