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To Drop or Not to Drop

March 31st, 2010

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As a college student, you know lots of surprises can be thrown your way during a given semester. Perhaps an otherwise easy class is made extremely difficult by a lousy professor. Maybe work or personal issues have cut into your study time. Perhaps one bad test grade threatens your entire GPA. It's not uncommon for students to get in over their heads when it comes to managing their coursework. That's why colleges offer recourse by allowing students to withdraw from their classes. But deciding whether or not to pull the trigger and eliminate one isn't always easy.

Before proceeding any further, you'll need to fully assess your academic situation. If you're discouraged about your grade, speak with your professor and see if they have any advice that could help you rebound. They might offer additional resources you didn't know were available. If you have time management issues that could be solved, reevaluate your priorities. Don't party when you can be studying and don't invest disproportionate amounts of time preparing for classes in which you're already performing well. If it's a class you'll have to take again, consider whether or not you'd do better the next time and if delaying credit would affect your ability to graduate on time. If you value your graduation date a little more than your GPA, it might be best to stay the course.

You'll also need to be aware of the rules pertaining to dropping a class at your college. Know the deadline, which usually comes a few weeks before finals. It can be found on your registrar's website, but if not, you can visit or call to find out. If you're enrolled in fewer than 15 hours, removing a class will cause you to fall below full-time standing. In most cases, your financial aid, scholarship and housing status will be affected if you take fewer than 12 hours. Also know the amount of drops you're allowed during your college career. Colleges institute limits in order to prevent students from becoming drop-happy. You'll want to manage your total wisely so that you won't end up stuck in a bad class without recourse in future semesters. Some students avoid dropping classes simply to avoid the "W" that will show up on their transcripts. However most grad schools and employers pay little attention to them; it's not nearly as important as your actual academic performance. Even still, it's important that you proceed with caution before withdrawing from a class. The right to time to do it ultimately depends on the specifics of your situation.

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