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Study backs students taking heavier course loads

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Freshmen who took 15 credit hours of classes in the fall of 2016 academically outperformed their peers who took fewer classes, a new report from Florida State University shows.

Prior reports had shown students taking 15 hours were more likely to stay in school and graduate earlier.

But FSU officials, who launched a "Take 15" campaign in 2015, said they are encouraged by the results of the new study, which shows first-time-in-college freshmen who took 15 credit hours had an average 3.36 GPA, compared to a 3.01 GPA for students taking 12 credit hours.

"I am pleased but not surprised by these results," said Sally McRorie, the FSU provost and executive vice president for academic affairs who designed the "Take 15" campaign.

"Students who take more credit hours have better overall academic engagement and learn early on to prioritize and to push themselves," McRorie said.

Since FSU launched its "Take 15" campaign, the number of freshmen taking 15 credit hours has more than doubled. More than 33 percent of the freshmen in the fall of 2016 took 15 credit hours, compared to 14.4 percent in the fall of 2015.

The average course load for freshmen in the fall of 2016 increased from 12.93 to 13.54 credit hours per student, compared to the prior year.

FSU officials said the study upends conventional wisdom that freshmen should only take 12 credit hours in order to adjust to university life.