The semester is well underway. You’re enrolled in the four or five classes, and for the most part things are going well. Then something happens. You’re asked to take on more hours at your part-time job, or health, personal or family issues rear their heads. Or maybe, you’ve just found yourself in a course where you’re struggling. Perhaps the class doesn’t interest you and you’re finding it hard to concentrate. Maybe the subject matter is one that you find especially difficult. Sometimes, it may not even be difficulty in a particular course that creates problems. You’ve just bitten off more than you can chew and can’t seem to stay on top of all of your classes. Whatever the reason, you are considering dropping a course. What should you think through in making this decision? What are the possible consequences of removing the class from your schedule? What will happen if you do try to stick it out? Take a moment and let the Nerd sort it all out for you.
Deadlines, Deadlines, Deadlines
The first thing you’ll need to do find out whether you can drop the class. Most colleges and universities allow students to drop selected courses, but only up to a certain point in the semester. Before you go any further, look at your school’s registration deadlines or talk to the Registrar’s office to find out how long you have to make your decision.
If You Give it Your All and It’s Still Too Hard
If you are studying, going to class, and even getting outside help (did you know many colleges offer free tutoring on campus?) and you are still having trouble, you might want to drop the class. For example, many students will drop a challenging course such as calculus because it is just too difficult when added in with three or for other classes. To get a passing grade in that class, these students would have had to devote way less time to their other classes, and that would have really hurt their GPA.
If You are Coping With Emotional Hardship
There are times in your life when emotional difficulty can make it hard to focus in school. If a student is dealing with family issues or the passing of a loved one, they may be best suited to drop a class or two to give themselves time to grieve. It’s okay to give yourself that leeway to help you cope during a time of emotional distress. Coping with issues like depression, parents’ divorce, or a death can take a lot out of you; so don’t sacrifice your emotional health just to take an extra course.
When to Drop?
Before the “Drop Date” Has Passed
The optimal time to drop a class is before the “drop date.” Before that date, a drop won’t go on your record. If you drop after the drop date, you often get an I (“Incomplete”) or a W (“Withdrawal”) on your transcript.
If it Won’t Affect Your (or Your Parents’) Financial Situation
A lot of times things like non-school insurance coverage, grant money, or scholarship fund dispersal is dependent on the number of credits you are taking in school. Some insurance companies, for example, require you to be a “Full-Time” student (this usually means you have to be taking at least a certain number of credits; most insurance companies require “12 or more” to consider me “full time”).
When You NEED To
Some things in life you can’t control. If for some reason – be it emotional, physical, or mental – you and your parents decide that you need to drop a class at any time, then do it. You can always retake the class later. If you have extenuating circumstances, don’t be afraid to talk to an academic advisor about it, too, and see how they recommend you proceed with dropping or retaking the class.
Many students find themselves in the position of having to drop a course somewhere along the way in their college career. Having it happen to you is not necessarily a reflection of your dedication to your studies or your academic abilities. Learn from your experience and use what you’ve learned in your future course planning and study habits. Part of the college experience is taking responsibility for your own schedule, and doing what needs to be done if you have to make up lost time along the way. Stick with the Nerd next week as we offer some words of wisdom on how to stay awake in class.