Dropping a Class

Now is the time in the semester, where you should be asking yourself “why did I sign up for this class?”  This is NORMAL.  Every student has this moment at least once a year if not once a semester. Sometimes courses are required, sometimes it is a matter of which professor is teaching the course, sometimes the course description did not do any justice in accurately describing the class, sometimes other courses influence your ability to do well (perhaps taking 7 biology classes at one time is too much for you to handle, but if you took 3 this semester and 3 next semester you would be more successful), and sometimes the workload seems unbearable and you feel like you are in way over your head.  Whatever the reason, this is NORMAL.

Take time to evaluate your feelings and determine if you may need to drop the class.  Is it really because you are in over your head, you are not grasping the concepts; you cannot keep up, and failing assignments or is it because you are not giving the course the adequate attention and preparation it deserves? Is it because your friends are in a different section of the course and they complete a fourth of the work or because your professor challenges you in new ways?  Is it because you thought the course was going to be geared towards certain topics and you are now discovering a newer level of understanding on a topic you did not care to know more about? Before considering dropping a class, ask yourself these questions and really get to the root of why you want to drop the class.

Have you done everything in your power? Met with the professor, gone to study group sessions, sought out a tutor, dedicated more time to studying and understanding the information, or created new ways to study and absorb the information (flash cards instead of an outline or recording the lecture and reviewing them, etc.).  Each semester and each course may require you to change your habits and thought process.  You cannot approach your college level classes the way you approached your high school classes or approach 300 level courses the way you would approach 100 level classes.  You have to review the syllabus, listen to the professor and work with others to see what the course is requiring of you.

After you have thoroughly assessed the course and determined it is not just you wanting the easy way out or having a dislike of the professor and you truly think you are in over your head and your continued participation in the course will result in a failing grade, now is the time to research your options for dropping a class. There are certain cut-off dates that you need to be aware of and be sure to meet.  There are opportunities to drop the class without penalty as if you were never there and there are opportunities to drop the class with it being indicated on your transcript.  Obviously dropping the class without it reflecting on your transcript would be preferred, but withdrawing from a class is a better reflection on your transcript than a failing grade.

Take time to meet with your advisor, let them know what you are planning and what plan you have in place to replace or retake the course. Be sure to know the deadline and work to get everything needed submitted before the deadline.  Depending on the time of the semester you are dropping a class you may be required to get the signature of the professor or even the dean. As you can imagine, they may not be readily available to sign your form, so give yourself time in case they are not immediately available.

On a personal note, this topic reminds me of the time I signed up for a philosophy course entitled Love and Relationships.  Of course I thought we would explore our ideas of love and discuss relationships for 15 weeks. Instead we discussed Socrates, Plato, Shakespeare and other enlightened philosopher’s definition of love written in a very difficult way for me to understand.  Immediately I wanted to drop the class, because it was not the “love” story I thought it would be.  However, I needed a philosophy course to fulfill my graduation requirements.  I had to determine why I wanted to drop the course, what would be the alternative, and why I wanted to run from the course.  In the end, I stayed in the class.  It was not the most fun I have ever had in the classroom, but I stayed with it, gave it my best, communicated with the professor when I struggled, and passed the class in the end allowing me to be eligible for graduation.

Trust me when I say you are not alone when considering if you want to drop a class. Wanting to drop a class is a normal feeling. You want to make sure you are dropping the class for the right reasons and before the deadline.  If you can, meet with your advisor and allow them to assist.  College is all about challenging you and pushing you to become a different version of you. So do not shy away from a challenging class it could turn out to be the ONE class that forces you to see life differently.

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