I'm graduating this fall. I came in with around a year's worth of AP credits from high school so I started taking "light" 12 credit semesters pretty frequently (basically every fall; I take 15/16 credit spring semesters). I took the lighter semesters for GPA protection purposes and to allow me to juggle part-time jobs/internships during the year. Even with the lighter semesters, I'm still gonna graduate a semester early. I only need 10 credits to graduate, so realistically I only need to take 3 classes (+ a 3 credit thesis course) -- however, I'm worried that it looks lazy and that it looks as though I cannot handle a heavy course load. I was considering taking a heavier semester (~17 credits) including an upper division course outside of my major to demonstrate that I can handle the workload, even though it isn't exactly necessary.
Should I just take the super light semester and try to finish with as high of a GPA as possible? I currently have a 3.989. For what it's worth, I attend a pretty low-ranked (previously unranked) branch campus of a public university, so I am sort of paranoid that I need to compensate for my mediocre undergrad.
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Your GPA is high enough that ideally it won't matter. Just keep it where it is and take as few credits as you can manage. You'll appreciate the easy last semester, and nothing you do now will demonstrably affect your chances. Admissions isn't going to be looking at a credit hour breakdown of your various years. They'll want to see you successfully graduated and your GPA. That's it.
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