In an effort to accommodate needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, UNC is offering a way for students to take less than 12 credit hours — while still being considered a full-time student.
This arrangement, called “course unloading,” gives students the opportunity to take advantage of a lighter course schedule this semester.
To be considered, students are required to fill out a short form, which is then directed to an adviser for approval. If approved, an email confirmation is sent to the student, who is then responsible for dropping the appropriate courses in ConnectCarolina by the drop deadline of May 5.
But there is some variation depending on the number of credit hours dropped.
For students choosing to enroll in fewer than nine hours, the spring 2021 semester will not count as a term in residence, which could affect future enrollment appointments. Additionally, students who drop below 12 hours before the last date to drop courses for financial credit on Feb. 1 will receive a tuition refund for the respective hours. Students who drop courses after this date will not be refunded.
Several students have taken advantage of the new opportunity, seeking an experience outside an online classroom.
Ashley Alexander, a sophomore at UNC, decided to utilize this new opportunity to take a break from zoom calls.
“I am lowering my course load this semester because I realized the limited learning capacity of virtual classes,” Alexander said. “I’ve been able to take more time for myself and my family. During this pandemic, I’ve learned more about the importance of friends and family and want to prioritize that this semester.”
Celia Furlow, a sophomore majoring in public policy and sociology, said she has chosen to lower her course load to focus her energy on her two jobs as a scholastic support counselor at the YMCA and a barista at a local cafe.
"I have found that having jobs that provide me daily structure, where I can interact with people safely and in-person, has been incredibly beneficial for my mental health,” she said.
Chloē Russel, associate dean and director for Academic Advising, said the University aims to provide students with an accessible and accommodating education.
“The University is committed to meeting student needs and providing as much flexibility as possible,” Russel said in an email. “For the spring semester, we are allowing all undergraduates to enroll in fewer than 12-course hours as long as the student remains on track for graduation and is not an international student on F-1 or J-1 status."
Russel said the policy, along with other initiatives being implemented this spring, is in direct response to student feedback from the fall semester.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.