You’re nearly halfway through your first semester of college, and you’re feeling stuck. Whether you keep skipping the class because a midday nap seems so much better, or you just can’t award the brain space to this Econ class right now, all you know is you’re not doing well. As I write this, it is October 4th, aka two weeks away from Illinois’s drop deadline. And while it may be scary, dropping a class may be the way to go.
But dropping a class means I’m a bad student!
First off, no. That’s a lie we tend to tell ourselves because we feel bad about finding ourselves in a difficult situation. There isn’t a perfect list of reasons why you should or should not drop a class. In the end, it comes down to a handful of things: what can you do to improve your class performance, and how would keeping/dropping this class affect you.
What can you do to improve?
If you’re already skipping this class continuously, if you’re not doing the homework, if you haven’t opened the book since September 1st, these could all contribute to a bad grade in one of your courses. If you aren’t putting the effort in, it becomes that much harder to get a good grade out of it. In these cases, perhaps you just need to get motivated. Get up for the 9 a.m., go to the office hours even though it seems super awkward, don’t start your homework at 11:00 p.m. if it’s due at 11:59 p.m. If you can do better, try that before you drop the class.
That said, if you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, it’s suddenly a different case. Sometimes your professor just doesn’t explain concepts well, or the book doesn’t make sense. If you’ve read the book and done the homework and you’re still feeling lost, maybe it’s time to consider dropping. It sucks sometimes when things just don’t click, but it should be noted that just because you don’t get it now doesn’t mean a new teacher and a new perspective might not help.
How would keeping/dropping this class affect you?
While it is okay to drop classes, you have to understand what that means. Dropping a class could mean going below a certain credit requirement for a scholarship or leave you under the university requirement of twelve credits per semester. If the class is required for your major, you may have to retake this class no matter what, and this course may be a prerequisite for the next class for your major. Dropping a class doesn’t make you a bad person and it won’t ruin your academic career, but it isn’t something that should be taken lightly.
But again, there are no perfect reasons to drop a class. If keeping a class you aren’t doing well in is really straining your well-being, maybe you’d be better off dropping. If you can’t stand your teacher and feel like they’re the reason you’re not learning, maybe taking it next semester with a new professor will help things. If you know you’ll never be able to get up at 7 a.m. for that Anthro class, maybe consider retaking the class next year but at 11 a.m. If this class is an elective and you really don’t need it, drop it.
Is there anything else I can do to avoid dropping?
There are a few different options if you really don’t want to drop a class.
Credit/No Credit Course
Along with the drop deadline, October 18th is also the Credit/No Credit deadline. Denoting a course as Credit/No Credit means that as long as you get a C- or higher in the class, you pass. What makes this unique is the grade for class will not affect your GPA. You’ll simply get the credits. This is good for if you’re scared a C will ruin your 4.0 but know you’ll definitely pass the class. This method, however, can’t be used on courses required for your major. So no Credit/No Credit for JOUR 200 if you’re a Journalism major. However, this shouldn’t be something you go to whenever times get rough. Grad schools are more likely to pick applicants with fewer C/NC classes than with a bunch, and if you end up getting no credit, some schools automatically count that class as an F because they don’t know if you got a D+ or an F-.
Pick Up an 8-week Course
If you’re worried about not having enough credits or getting behind on getting through your Gen Eds, then an 8-week course might be right up your alley! A lot of them are online and they come in a variety of different majors and concentrations. While it will be a faster learning style because you only have half a semester to get through it, it will keep you from getting behind if you already have a plan for what classes you’re taking in the semesters to come.
Things to Remember
You’re not a bad person for dropping a class. You’re not disappointing anyone and this isn’t because you’re stupid. Sometimes situations arise that don’t make for the best learning environment, and the best move might be to take a break. But dropping a class doesn’t mean you can’t take it again or take something similar. It’s not quitting—it’s recalculating to find the best route for your academic future.