Dropping A Class: The Happy Arkansan's Guide

Fortunately for me during my undergraduate college career I never had to drop a class. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same fate. Sometimes dropping a class and retaking it later seems like a better thing to do, than completely failing a class and still having to retake it later. When you are considering dropping a class, there are some things you need to take into consideration.

The Happy Arkansan's Guide To Dropping A Class | Click through for my guide to dropping a class with grace. This guide covers everything from the questions you need to ask yourself and other knowledgeable people to the lingo you need to know if you are thinking about dropping a course.

Will this affect my scholarship?

First and foremost, I think you should definitely ask yourself this question. A lot of the times you can take a class during the summer to make up for lost hours, but not all scholarships count hours taken during the summer. Make sure your scholarships will let you take a class to make up for the one you dropped. This is important if you need a certain amount of hours to keep a certain scholarship. If you decide to keep the class and fail how will this affect your scholarship? And also if you drop too late and end up with a WF like discussed in question three how will this affect your scholarship?

Is this a costly decision?

For the most part, if you receive money back—you probably won’t receive that much. If you need your GPA to be spotless (meaning nothing lower than Bs) then considering dropping, but if you think you can manage at least a C or God help you D, consider staying. Especially if your other classes are As or Bs. But if not, you may want to drop.

When are the drop dates at your school?

You want to make sure you drop by the correct drop date. Try to get dropped by the correct date, because some drops show up negatively on your transcript—while others don’t. Withdraw Pass/Withdraw Fail are very important words. Remember that. If you don’t drop by the correct withdraw date, you could end up with a WF on your transcript, and that affects your transcript. Professors are likely to report what was going on in the grade book, especially if you haven't talked to them about dropping. If you were failing when you withdrew, you could end up with a WF. Try to drop by the plain W withdraw date so that it doesn’t possibly affect your transcript. If you missed the W withdraw date, let your professors know why you want to drop and reason with them. Sometimes, if you have a good talk with your professor, you can get them to not put a WF on your transcript, but you have to talk with your professor in order for that to happen.

If You Decide That You Might Want To Drop That Class. Do These Things First.

Talk with the teacher.

They may be able to give you some pointers about the class, help you with things you don’t understand, or give you words of encouragement. Remember that for the most part class grades are not determined during the first half of the year. To be honest maybe too much of the class is decided during the last half of the year thanks to the finals and projects teachers like to give out last minute. The grade you have now could go up exponentially at the end of the year.

Talk with your advisor.

Tell them that you are thinking of dropping a class, but you are not really sure if you want to. Tell them your story with all the details and they will be able to give you solid advice. It’s an advisors job to help students with these sort of things, so don’t be afraid to drop by and ask for their advice.

Talk to Financial Aid.

Alert them of the scholarships you have, and they will probably be able to tell you more about the requirements if you are not sure about them. They will definitely be able to answer the first question for you, with extreme accuracy. They’re entire job is helping you understand the financial aid you have.

Talk to your parents.

Parents are amazing people filled with vast knowledge, and they should definitely know if you plan on dropping a class—because they might be the ones footing a bill when you need to retake the class.

Talk to a friend/to me.

I am always here to help you if you need it. Email me, and I will try and give you the best advice possible. Definitely talk to a friend at your college as well, especially if that friend is in your class. They may be able to give you study tips you never thought of before, and help you bring your grade up.

Important Course Dropping Definitions

Now that you have went through all those steps, all the conversations and evaluation, and you decide that you still want to drop this section is for you. I am going to give you a bit of lingo about different types of dropping and other words related to it. Then I will give you some information on what the dropping process is usually like.

  • Drop/Add: During the first week of classes there is usually a small window of opportunity where you can drop a class you don’t like an add another. This is for the class when you go to the first day and just know it’s not what you bargained for, and you just want to switch to another class as quickly as possible. You have really got to be hip to the knowledge of when the cut of date is, because it usually is sometime right after the first day of classes.
  • Withdraw: This is just a plain withdraw. You don’t take the class anymore, and it just shows up as an W on your transcript. You don’t get the grade for the class, but it doesn’t affect your gpa.
  • Withdraw Passing:  Same terms as above you were just passing when you withdrew. On your transcript as WP
  • Withdraw Failing: This negatively affects your transcript. It means at the time you withdrew you were failing the class. Seen on your transcript as WF.
  • Grade Forgiveness: At my school, if you receive a D, F, or WF in a class you can forgive the grade in up to 4 courses. This is good if you slipped up, and don’t want the grade to still be on your transcript. The way this works is that both grades will remain on your record, but the later and hopefully best one will be used to calculate your GPA. This is great if you made an oopsie one year, so you should check to see if they have this at your school as well.

How to Drop

To drop a class you need to go see your Academic Advisor. They will be able to give you all the information you need on dropping the class. They may make you do some quick talks again, but what’s the hurt in having a few more conversations about dropping, if you’ve made it this far you probably are pretty dead set on dropping the class.

Notes About Dropping A Class:

  1. Be super mindful about drop dates. Either ask your advisor about them, or check out the school website. The academic calendar usually has the drop dates listed.
  2. Don’t just stop going to class and assume your dropped. Some teachers will drop you immediately if you aren’t showing up to class, but some teachers don’t notice or just want to see you slowly suffer and get an F in the class.  Be sure to officially drop.
  3. As you can see by this long post, I want you to think long and hard about your decision to drop a course. Dropping is not a decision to be taken lightly. Dropping classes left and right doesn’t do anything for your GPA, and it doesn’t do anything for the amount of money you have to spend if you don’t get all of your money back.
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