Fifteen to Finish: Why Taking 15 Credits Is a Good Idea

(Clockwise, starting upper left): Alex Guarino, Mirella Gerer, Victor Palacios, Chunyan Zhou, Tesfamichael Demeke, Shannon Kidd, Juana Encinas

(Clockwise, starting upper left): Alex Guarino, Mirella Gerer, Victor Palacios, Chunyan Zhou, Tesfamichael Demeke, Shannon Kidd, Juana Encinas
September 22, 2016

While 12 credits technically qualifies as full-time, students at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) are maximizing their financial aid and graduating sooner, by taking 15 credits per semester.

To reach that goal, students take advantage of free services at the College such as tutoring.

“Since English is not my first language, I struggle with grammar,” says BMCC alumna Chunyan Zhou (Business Administration, ’16), who used the BMCC Writing Center to get feedback for her research papers, and also worked with tutors in the BMCC Math Lab.

Business Administration major Juana Encinas, scheduled to graduate in 2017, uses time management to help maintain a 15-credit semester. Encinas builds her study schedule and personal life around college deadlines, and “I always try to study in my free time between classes,” she says.

Science major Tesfamichael Demeke, who is currently taking 15 credits per semester, says, “When I enrolled at BMCC, I laid a clear plan for myself to graduate in two years and transfer to a four-year college. I decided to do this in order to save money, energy and to give myself more time to move onto the next chapter of my life.”

He stresses the importance of establishing priorities. “I make a list of things I want to accomplish every semester, whether it is getting an ‘A’ in a class or doing 25 hours of community service,” he says, and makes use of the BMCC Learning Resource Center to reach his goals. He is also an Out in Two Scholar, and has benefited from working closely with the advisors in that program.

Recent BMCC graduates Shannon Kidd and Alex Guarino earned their respective associate degrees in Engineering Science and Business Administration in a timely manner by taking 15 credits per semester.

“The quicker I completed my associate degree, the quicker I was be able to transfer to a four-year university,” says Shannon, who is now attending Cornell University.

Alex, who entered Columbia University in Fall 2016, found support in the BMCC Writing Center and Math Lab as he earned 15 credits a semester. “BMCC helped me overcome all my fears,” he says.

Liberal Arts alumna Mirella Gerer says, “It’s intense, taking 15 credits, but if you feel you’re struggling, BMCC staff and advisors are very helpful and understanding.” Victor Palacios, who earned his associate degree in Business Administration in June 2016, admits something that is probably true for many college students: “I am a natural procrastinator.” He had to “forcefully apply some self-discipline in my life,” he says, to successfully take not just 15 but 17 credits in a semester, which “wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my employers who allowed me to work only on weekends.”

“Time management, making use of campus resources such as free tutoring, having an employer willing to adjust their work schedule — these all help students maintain a 15-credit semester,” says Marva Craig, BMCC Vice President for Student Affairs. “They can also take advantage of evening and online classes at BMCC and talk to counselors when they feel overwhelmed.”

Students who successfully earn 15 credits in Fall 2016 will also be eligible to win a monthly MetroCard — “but the real prize for students,” stresses VP Craig, “is moving closer, in a more expedient way, to their long-term goals, whether it’s starting their careers or going on to earn a bachelor’s degree at a senior college. That’s why we created the Fifteen to Finish campaign.”

For more information, students are welcome to stop in at the BMCC Office of Student Affairs or call 212-220-8130.





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  • Students maximize financial aid by taking 15 credits per semester instead of 12
  • They can also win a free MetroCard by doing so
  • Time management and free tutoring services help students maintain 15 credits

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