20-Crediting at Olin

As a convention, at Olin, a course with 4 credits generally requires 12 hours of course-related work per week. Students typically take 4 courses every semester – that is, a 16-credit course arrangement is considered a full course load. However, there are a few ambitious students challenging themselves: they choose to “20-credit” in one semester. We interviewed two first-years about their experience of 20-crediting in their second semester. 

“Why did you choose to overload with QEA?”

Sophie has been questioned about this thousands of times this semester. Quantitative Engineering Analysis (QEA) is a rigorous, double-wide (8-credit) course where students learn to use complex mathematics and science to solve real engineering challenges. As a mechanical engineer, she took two MechE courses this semester, as well as QEA and Products & Markets, the required first-year entrepreneurship course.

“Honestly I don’t find 20-crediting very challenging,” claimed Sophie. “The biggest challenge I’m facing is to schedule time for group meetings.” Sophie spends most of her free time on team meetings and clubs including Formula and Rocketry. “Comparing to last semester, I have less free time. I enjoy being busy though; I’ve learned a lot from clubs and teaming experiences.”

The reason for her choosing to 20-credit, she said, is to pursue her plan for the future. “I want to study Material Science in the future; thus I’m trying to pursue an interdisciplinary education.”

There are a large range of courses at Olin related to different types of engineering, and MechSolids (Mechanics of Solid Structures) is one of them. Recommended as a sophomore course, MechSolids doesn’t seem overwhelming to Sophie.

“Instead of writing essays and having exams, we have individual projects including structural analysis of local bridges and labs on beam deflection. The professor and Ninjas (teaching assistants) are very helpful as well.”

Alexis, a first-year student majoring in Electrical and Computer Engineering, chose to 20-credit for another reason. “Many courses at Olin sound interesting to me, and doing 20 credits enables me to explore them all. I didn’t have a chance to take economics in high school, and the cross-registration opportunities at Babson and Wellesley enable me to do so now.” She also took SoftDes (Software Design), in which she learned how to program a game in Python.

Talking about time management, Alexis has a few suggestions.

“I like to do things ahead of time, so that I won’t be frustrated by a bunch of deadlines at the same time. Making a clear timetable is also helpful.”

“The cross-registration experience is enjoyable,” said Alexis. “Having a lecture-based course at Wellesley is totally different from having project-based courses at Olin.”

“20-crediting with QEA is never recommended,” Alexis added, “a sacrifice in free time is unavoidable. However, I feel proud of myself for surviving with 20 credits!"


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Posted in: Sophie '22, Class of 2022