Two years ago, Peter Clark ’04, a freshman from Flemington, N.J. enrolled in Cornell for what many would consider a healthy 19 credits.
This number swelled to 24 for his second semester, mushroomed to 42 credits by the end of his sophomore year. Now, Clark enters his junior year enrolled for 60 credits.
“The secretaries definitely give me funny looks when I add and drop courses,” Clark said. While his advisor is, “flabbergasted and concerned but supportive” Clark has handled his course load well so far, averaging 3.99.
Nonetheless, he is very conscientious of how he is doing in each of his classes.
“I do have to watch out. A bad semester with 12 credits is not terrible but a bad semester with 60 credits could be a disaster.” he said.
Although Clark keeps a wary eye on his grades, the primary motivation for his course load is his interest in each of his classes. “I really enjoy it [his courses] because it gives me a sense of personal satisfaction.”
He is majoring in biology, economics and math now and is looking for perhaps one more.
These majors give Clark the backbone of his schedule. He first chooses classes that fit into his major and then supplementing them with classes from other departments that interest him including hieroglyphics, children’s literature and the philosophy of science.
Packing a schedule like this entails 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. days, some night classes about six problem sets a week and a regimented schedule.
“He definitely needs to have excellent time management skills,” said his Resident Advisor Sherida Parpiglia.
He starts with his problem sets, breaks for dinner and then proceeds with his reading after his regular homework is finished.
“Basically, a lot of my ‘free time’ is used for my studies,” Clark said.
Despite this, Clark is far from being a shut-in.
“Peter always studies with his door open and comes to activities and dinners,” Parpiglia said. He also volunteers for the Big Brother, Big Sister program among other extracurricular activities.
“I also sleep,” Clark joked.
In fact, he tries to get to bed at about 1 a.m. each week night.
Although Clark thinks that anyone can manage a courseload like his, not everyone agrees.
“If I spent all the time that I spent screwing around, doing work, I think that I could take maybe 30 credits. Maybe,” said Erin McNellis ’04.
And, occasionally even Clark has his doubts.
“Every once in a while half of me says that I should drop a course so I don’t have to do the work for it, while the other half of me says ‘finish it and go to bed.'”
For Clark it’s just a matter of letting the latter half win.
Archived article by Matthew Vernon