4 Things to Consider Before Dropping a College Class

Perhaps this scenario sounds familiar: a student registers for a college class, begins it, and then wishes to drop it before the term ends. This may happen because the course is not what the student expected or because the content is too difficult. Before you finalize your decision, here are four things to consider before dropping a college class: 

1. Deadlines

There are typically strict deadlines for dropping a college class. Oftentimes, there is a deadline for full tuition refunds, as well as a deadline for partial refunds. There are other deadlines that stipulate when you may drop a class without it appearing on your transcript, versus when you will receive a ‘withdrawal’ or ‘incomplete’ grade that could affect your academic status. 

Prior to making any major decisions, be sure to verify your school’s deadlines for dropping classes. These deadlines can usually be found on your college’s website, but it is wise to talk to an adviser or the registrar before withdrawing from any classes. 

2. Impact on financial aid

Dropping a college class can potentially affect your financial aid. Many forms of financial aid include a particular award amount for full-time students and a smaller award amount for part-time students. If dropping a college class means that you would change from being a full-time student to a part-time student, you could end up receiving a smaller financial aid package. This could be especially problematic if you have already used your aid.

Sometimes, students will accumulate debt with their university if they drop from full-time to part-time status. This could then create difficulties when trying to register for future terms. Additionally, some scholarships and other sources of financial aid require you to maintain a certain number of credits per term. If you fall below that amount, you could lose your funding. If you are receiving any form of financial aid, you should consult with your financial aid office prior to altering your class schedule. 

3. Sequencing of classes

It is also imperative to consider the specific class and how the withdrawal might affect your long-term academic schedule. Some college classes are only offered during certain terms, which means you might have to wait an entire academic year before you can enroll in that course again. While this may not present an issue for elective classes, dropping a course required for your degree could ultimately delay your graduation. 

If the class you wish to drop is a pre-requisite for other courses, or if it is part of a longer sequence of classes, withdrawing is likely to affect your long-term study plan. You might not be able to take subsequent classes until the one you drop is successfully completed. For this reason, it would be intelligent to talk to your academic adviser first. You may also want to take a look at these four myths about college classes.

4. Reasons for dropping

It is helpful to consider the specific circumstances that are making you wish to take this route. Perhaps dropping seems like the easiest solution, but there are other ways to handle the situation. If you are doing poorly in the class, meet with your professor or seek out additional resources, such as study groups or tutors. These are great benefits to group study. If you do not have time for all of your general responsibilities, see if there are some activities you can eliminate to ease your load. Ask friends or family to help you with certain responsibilities so you can better manage your time. Fully consider all of your options prior to making your decision.

If you are contemplating dropping a college class, ponder all of the possible consequences of doing so. If you make the decision to drop, it should be an informed decision. As always, remember that college instructors and staff are there to assist you during your academic career. Therefore, be sure to ask about deadlines, potential implications, and other resources available to you!