Dropping a Class in College: When Is it a Good Idea?

By Sam Coren
StudentAdvisor.com Staff

dropping a classSo you’ve had a couple weeks of classes under your belt and you’re starting to feel a bit, well, overwhelmed. You find yourself constantly struggling to finish assignments, the professor is impossible to follow, and no matter how much you try to get extra help, it’s just not working out. The thought of dropping a class is beginning to sound like a better option than suffering through the rest of the semester. 

A Few Reasons College Students Decide to Drop a Class:

  • Overloading on credits, but finding it too hard to keep up
  • Declaring a major late and dealing with an unbalanced course load of many upper-level courses all at once
  • Needing to dedicate more time to a required class to get a decent grade
  • Working while going to school and needing to drop a class to stay focused

There are many different reasons why college students decide to make the tough decision to drop a course. If you’re the type of student who’s used to effortlessly acing your classes every year, it can be a tough pill to swallow. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be an overachiever, admitting that you might need to scale back on the number of classes you’re taking isn’t easy.

Words of Wisdom From Upperclassmen on Dropping a Course

Still trying to figure out if dropping a class is the right thing to do? The StudentAdvisor team asked two seasoned college upperclassmen for their best advice on when to drop a class in college:

“I always wait at least a week into the class before I decide if I want to drop it,” said Chris Wilcox, a senior at Boston University. “By then, I usually have a good understanding of how the professor teaches and if I will find the course material interesting for the whole semester.”

“When is dropping class a good idea? When you realize that you’re not trying to climb and overcome an obstacle, you’re trying to smash through it with your face. And your face hurts a lot,” said Stephanie Reynolds, a student at Wittenberg University.

“It’s one thing to stick it out and persevere, but it’s another thing entirely to turn a deaf ear to the voice of the universe as it tells you, ‘Try something else.’ To get rid of the dumb metaphors, it’s time to drop a class when it’s causing you a disproportionate amount of stress compared to your other classes, hurting your GPA, and not necessary to any degree or graduation requirement.”

“When people say ‘Discretion is the better part of valor,’ they’re not kidding. Sometimes you have to know when to let it go. And it hurts, because you don’t want to admit defeat—to a particularly ruthless professor or a harsh subject or whatever. But you have to pick your battles wisely, or else you’ll only end up shooting yourself in the foot.”

Ready to Drop That Class Like a Bad Habit? Meet With Your Academic Advisor First!

If you’re thinking about dropping a class be sure to make an appointment with your academic advisor about the options that are available. Be aware that dropping a course might affect your full-time student status which in turn could cause issues with your financial aid or scholarship eligiblilty. And finally, don’t forget to make yourself aware of your school’s drop/add deadline for courses each semester. Dropping a class too far into a semester may impact your GPA and semester’s tuition bill.

Still getting the hang of this college thing? Don’t forget to check out StudentAdvisor’s new Survive Freshman Year guide.

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