For Unwind Magazine
Most students have had difficulty with a class at some point in their lives, especially in college, when the courses are much more rigorous. There might even come a time where they struggle a little too much and have to ask themselves the ultimate question: Should I drop this class before it’s too late?
The consequences of dropping a course can differ depending on when the class is dropped and whether the class is for an LEP (Limited Enrollment Program), other major requirement or for general education credit, said Madeline Yoder, an advisor for letters and sciences.
According to Joshua Madden, an academic advisor at the journalism school, students’ best option is dropping a course “during the first 10 days of classes because then a student does not get a notation on their transcript that indicates they’ve withdrawn.”
However, even students who wait a little longer to drop won’t necessarily suffer. Receiving a “W” is better than earning the presumed “F” that would bring your transcript down if you continue to be unsuccessful in a course. That said, a “W” is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.
“A W counts as an attempt,” said Yoder. This comes into play if a student is in an LEP major, where they only get one attempt out of the required gateway courses.
“W”s make a difference in non-LEP classes, too, notes Yoder. Unless they receive special permission, students can attempt a class only twice. In most other cases, having a few “W”s doesn’t really matter, but they still aren’t ideal, Yoder said.
“Sometimes as far as being competitive for grad schools or medical schools, W’s don’t look great,” she said. “It’s like a black mark on your transcript.”
Students drop classes for a variety of reasons, Madden said: “It is too difficult, they do not like the instructor, it is not what they thought it would be, they find out they don’t need the course to graduate, out-of-class responsibilities force them to reduce their course load, and the course is counting toward a major or minor that they decide they are no longer interested in pursuing.”
Dropping a course due to out-of-class responsibilities hits home for computer science major Dave Edson, who was already busy with a job outside of school and faced difficulties with receiving credit.
“I became very frustrated with an English class because I already took three other English classes at another institution,” Edson said. “It wouldn’t transfer and I wouldn’t just put the effort in.”
While dropping is sometimes a necessity, there are plenty of options for students who are going to stick it out instead. They can consult with their professors during office hours, attend tutoring sessions and form a study group. That’s what Tess Belgard, a senior dietetics major, did.
“I was really struggling with a class for my major and considered dropping to take it another semester,” she said. “I talked to my professor and she encouraged me to get a tutor instead. I’m so glad I didn’t drop.”
Students should meet with an advisor if they are considering dropping, in order to explore all of their options, Yoder said.
“While I think dropping is necessary in some cases, there are usually better alternatives,” Belgard said. “College isn’t supposed to be easy. Triple your efforts and work hard. You, and your transcript, will be better off for it.”