Is it More Beneficial to Underload Subjects at University?

A review of the benefits to taking on less units per semester

Is it More Beneficial to Underload Subjects at University?

Under-loading at university refers to a students decision to reduce the number of units being completed during one semester. A typical degree has four units per semester to be completed. Students that choose to underload may decide to complete three or maybe even one or two, depending the individual needs. Under-loading often means that the student has to extend the total degree time to ensure at the end they have completed all the units necessary. 

It is quite common for students to decide to underload their units at university. The greatest obvious benefit is that students have less to focus on at one time, meaning they should be able to study the other units better and effectively achieve better scores. This is a useful strategy if you are feeling overwhelmed with your studies or are desperately trying to improve your weighted average mark or grade-point average to stay competitive.  

For some students, under-loading is about balancing commitments. It enables certain students to increase income-generating activities to support themselves or their families whilst they study. In this situation, under-loading makes a university degree for attainable for those who otherwise may struggle. 

Maybe less spoken about, is the reduced workload creating a better mental health space. University can be stressful at the best of times, particularly during the final week and in exam time. Depending on the subject, it is possible the 4 major assignments will be due within a few day of each other. It Is also very possible that 2 exams fall on the same day or all 4 of them are within a week of each other. It is only natural that this situation creates extreme stress. If under-loading helps to improve a students headspace at this time, it is an approach that may be worth investigating. 

It is common that in our society, we work as hard as possible in the shortest period of time to achieve the best possible outcome. Maybe under-loading has more real benefits then we’ve all realised and is something that should be considered by all students no matter their current situation, age or degree. 

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