If you’re doing badly in a class, should you drop it? Below are some questions to ask yourself, and tips to help you figure it out.
Do you need this class for your major?
Is this class crucial to your graduation? Are you a psychology major thinking of dropping PSYCH 101, or are you in an 8:00 am P.E. class that you just can’t get yourself out of bed for? Before you decide to drop a class, have a clear understanding of what that will mean for your academic path. If you can’t stand the professor, but must take the class for your major, find out if other instructors even teach that class before you drop it. Also, some classes are only offered once a year or even every other year. Even if it initially seems like the class you want to drop isn’t critical to your major, remember that you are probably taking it to fulfill another credit requirement. Before you drop a class, talk with an advisor to understand all the implications.
Would dropping a class effect your financial aid?
Double check with the financial aid office to be sure that if you do drop a class, it won’t effect the terms of your student loan or grants. If your family is helping you pay for school, they likely will not get a refund for the class you withdraw from. Be sensitive to that, and soften the blow to them by making new agreements. For example, perhaps you will search for a part- time job to replace the hours you would spend on the class you drop.
Is it too late to withdraw?
Be aware of your school’s dates and policies regarding withdrawals. Most schools have “add/ drop” dates at the start of the term where you can drop a class and get a full refund. Then, there is a period when you can withdraw from a class and get a “W.” A “W” is not as bad as a“F” on your transcript, but too many “Ws” will begin to look bad and slow your progress towards graduation. Closer to the second half of a term, most schools will not allow to take a “W” for a grade .
Is there a fighting chance?
It can be good to remind yourself that your midterm/ current grade is not your final grade (thank goodness, right?!). If you’re really worried about a grade, and wondering if you should drop the class, review your syllabus for that class. Many professors list all their tests and assignments in their syllabi as well as a break down on how much assignments, tests, and projects are worth. Figure out if there are enough points left in the term to turn your grade around. Often syllabi will also have information about the instructor’s policies regarding extra-credit, make up work, and sweet deals like dropping your lowest test grade. If your syllabus doesn’t contain any of this information, it’s time to communicate with your professor. This can be especially hard when you are doing poorly in their class. Keep in mind that you are not the first person to be doing poorly in their class. Also, it is admirable to be direct and advocate for yourself. If you find that based off of points and course policies you can still pass your class, you need to change your ways. Isn’t doing the same thing over again and expecting different results the definition of insanity (at the very least, it’s the definition of being dumb)? Change your study habits, lifestyle, get a tutor, or do whatever you have to do to turn your grade around!
Are you being honest with yourself?
Are you just taking the easy way out by dropping a class you really dislike? Will you really be less stressed, or is that a cop-out? Alternately, are you talking yourself into staying in a class that in reality you probably won’t pass? Do you have more important things going on in your life that need your attention? It can be difficult to know what to do, and to truly be honest with yourself, but you are ultimately the only person who can make this decision.