Why and When You Should Drop a Class in CollegeAre you thinking about dropping a college class? Or wondering what to do if you ever think you need to drop a class?
I’ve never been much good at math, but until my freshman year of college I had always managed to get by. Then came Calc 10A. Even though I took detailed notes in lecture and spent literally hours on my homework, I just couldn’t get it down. As the drop deadline approached, I realized that if I stayed in that math class, I could possibly fail my first course.
How do you know if dropping a class is a good decision? Most times, that decision involves both the “why” and the “when.”


If You Give it Your All and It’s Still Too Hard

If you are studying, going to class, and even getting outside help (did you know many colleges offer free tutoring on campus?) and you are still having trouble, you might want to drop the class. I dropped Calc because it was just too difficult when I added it in with three other classes. To get a passing grade in that class, I would have had to devote way less time to my other classes, and that would have really hurt my GPA.

If You are Coping With Emotional Hardship

There are times in your life when emotional difficulty can make it hard to focus in school. One of my friends had a close friend pass away during his senior year of college, and he decided to drop a class or two to give himself time to grieve. It’s okay to give yourself that leeway to help you cope during a time of emotional distress. Coping with issues like depression, an eating disorder, parents’ divorce, or a death can take a lot out of you, so don’t sacrifice your emotional health just to take an extra course.


Before the “Drop Date” Has Passed

The optimal time to drop a class is before the “drop date.” Before that date, a drop won’t go on your record. If you drop after the drop date, you often get an I (“Incomplete”) or a W (“Withdrawal”) on your transcript.

If it Won’t Affect Your (or Your Parents’) Financial Situation

A lot of times things like non-school insurance coverage, grant money, or scholarship fund dispersal is dependent on the number of credits you are taking in school. Some insurance companies, for example, require you to be a “Full-Time” student (this usually means you have to be taking at least a certain number of credits; my insurance company required “12 or more” to consider me “full time”).

When You NEED To

Some things in life you can’t control. If for some reason—be it emotional, physical, or mental—you and your parents decide that you need to drop a class at any time, then do it. You can always retake the class later. If you have extenuating circumstances, don’t be afraid to talk to an academic advisor about it, too, and see how they recommend you proceed with dropping or retaking the class.