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Incoming college students who average at least 15 credits per term during their first year are more likely to stick around and graduate and also get better grades, according to a new analysis from EAB, a research firm.

The study tracked 1.3 million full-time students at 137 institutions. (See a description of the methodology here.) It found that students who averaged at least 15 credits per term during their first year were 19 percentage points more likely to graduate in four years. They were also more likely to return for their sophomore year and had GPAs that were higher than their peers’. In addition, EAB analyzed a subset of approximately 20,000 students and found that those who were eligible to receive Pell Grants had similarly positive outcomes when they took 15 credits per semester.

“These findings show that an increased credit load is unlikely to be detrimental for students at any academic level, challenging a common concern that taking more classes is a bad idea for struggling students,” Ed Venit, senior director of strategic research at EAB, said in a written statement. “In fact, the least-prepared students were more likely to persist and get better grades if they took a few extra credits their first term.”