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.

February is a great time to review your current load.  You have been to class, taken a look the syllabus, and possibly completed an assignment or had a quiz.  Now is time to reflect on your progress in your currently enrolled classes.  If you think that the material may be too much for you to absorb, if you think you have taken on too much, or if you think the class load will hinder your academic success, now is the time to consider dropping a class. The best scenario is to drop the class without it having a negative effect on your transcript. You want to make decisions that will not affect your chance to graduate on time or to graduate with a higher grade point average.

Dropping a class is all about timing.  The registrar’s office will have specific dates that you must adhere to in order to successfully drop a class.  Sometimes the steps are quite easy and will simply allow you to just drop the class.  In other classes you may have to obtain a signature from the professor, an advisor, or even the dean.  The second factor to consider is how “the drop” will appear on your transcript.  Your preference is for “the drop” not to appear on your transcript at all; this of course is the best case scenario and will be the earliest deadline.  The later the deadline is in the semester, the more detrimental it will be toward your grade point average.

Dropping a class is not necessarily a bad thing.  It is a mature decision that almost all students have to face at one point in their academic career.  Dropping a class should also not be a way to avoid hard work.  As you progress through your academic program your courses are designed to become more challenging and pushing your complex thinking to the next level.  Shying away from hard work or a more challenging professor will not prepare you for your professional field or life after college.  Consider the course is only 12-16 weeks and in the end you will benefit the most from it.  So before dropping a class consider your true intentions behind dropping the class.  Meet with your advisor and discuss the class and the ramifications of dropping the class. Consider getting a tutor for the class or seeing if the professor offers one-on-one sessions or has any other resources to help you be successful.  If you find that the class is just too much for your current load, you can also consider retaking the class next year or find a suitable replacement.

Dropping classes is a great option to have as a student, but before dropping classes ensure that is the best solution in the long run.  Making a quick decision should not have long lasting effects on your academic career.  Consult your advisor, exhaust all of your possibilities, and make the best decision.


It is probably right about now the workload from your classes is starting to pile up.  Stress is setting in. First quizzes and assignments are due.  You got your first assignment graded and did not do so well. You think to yourself “I am in way over my head.”  If you are having these thoughts you should start to evaluate if you are taking the class or classes you have seriously. 

Are you giving the class the appropriate amount of time?  It is recommended that for each unit/credit hour you are taking, 1-2 hours of study time should be dedicated to the subject per week.  So if you are taking a 3 unit/credit hour course you should be minimally be studying 3-6 hours per week studying for just that class and so forth for the rest of your classes.  If you are taking a full load (12-18 units/credit hours) you should be spending anywhere from 12-54 hours per week studying depending on the class and the difficulty of the class. Also, note more challenging courses like the sciences or math courses may require 3-4 hours per unit or credit hour.

Let’s say you are studying and giving the subject the attention it needs and you are still not grasping the material, it may be time to pay your professor a visit.  Office hour visits can be scary at first, but have been proven to be beneficial.  Meeting with your professor allows you to get a one- on-one personalized explanation of the material.  You are free to ask questions, have the professor go further into depth, and explain where you may be getting lost.  This meeting also allows the professor to let you know their expectations and for you to figure out where you may be getting lost.  Meeting with the professor gives you the opportunity to get to know each other on a more personal level and for them to make a connection with you and not just be another name on their roster of students.  Professors really appreciate students using office hours, because it shows you have drive, you are taking initiative, and care about your education.  Professors often recount these visits when it comes to calculating grades.  Those students who have made an earnest effort to better understand the material get much more favorable results when it comes to final grading than those that did not take the time to let the professor know they were struggling.  Please note there is a fine line between seeking the professor for guidance on the material and seeking the professor as a tutor.  Most professors are not there to tutor students; if you find a professor willing to tutor you UTILIZE them.  Professors are there to show you the light, but it is your job to see your way through the tunnel.  Once you meet with the professor, if you still need assistance attempt to find a classmate to study with, a study group, or a tutor on the subject. 

Now you have met with the professor, received tutoring and it is just not working.  You may want to consider dropping the class.  There are several ways to drop a class, you should refer to your class catalog to find out the options you have.  The class catalog can often found online, in the registrar’s office, or in the department’s main office. It is very important to look for dates, as these dates often dictate the type of drop you will be permitted to do.  A general rule of thumb the earlier you drop the better. Your goal with dropping is to receive very little to no negative effect.  You want to avoid a failing grade being reflected on your transcript.  You also want to avoid your grade point average being affected.  Lastly, if possible you want to avoid being mandated to retake the class later in your college career.  Again, check with your school to see what options you have common options include: Withdrawal, Pass/Fail, Withdrawal Passing, Withdrawal Failing, and Instructor Withdrawal.

Remember when signing up for classes; be sure to take classes you genuinely intend to see through to the end. You do not want to be caught in a situation where you stuck with a class that you really did not want to be a part of.  Make sure you are giving each class the attention it requires.  Some classes like science may require more than the 1-2 recommended study hours per week.  What worked in high school may not work in college switch up your studying style; see what works for each unique subject.  Talk to your professor and let them know what is going on with you.  Professors are people too and will understand if you get lost and are there to help you find your way.  Lastly, if you think you have taken on too much consider a dropping the class, but first know dates and ramifications of dropping the class.  Dropping classes can affect everything from your grade point average to financial aid.