A new semester is like the new year. Everything screams fresh start and academic resolutions run rampant. Your renewed ambition causes you to sign up for three new clubs, more hours at your job and an extra elective.
Your superwoman façade crumbles soon after the start of classes, and you find yourself nearly in tears in your advisor’s office. To drop, or not to drop; that is the question. If your head is screaming yes, but your ego is screaming no, take a look at some signs that it’s OK to cut back.
If: Your GPA can’t make a comeback
The mythical “easy A” can trap any student into thinking they can rock any gen ed. University of Maryland sophomore Gianna Dano was seeing stars after an astronomy class disaster. “I was failing the class after I took the first two exams, and the class [did] not have a curve,” said Dano.
Then: Accept the “W” on your transcript
Once the glimmer of hope from curves and extra credit is shattered, and you still see an “F” after your best effort, time to drop it like it’s hot. A withdraw on your transcript may seem like you’re shouting “I gave up,” but even advisors recognize it as a commendable option. “I asked [my advisor] if it would look bad if I had a “W” on my transcript and she said, it’s fine, many people withdraw from classes,” Dano said. As long as you’re dropping before the withdraw deadline, your transcript and GPA can stay pristine.
If: The class is harder than it has to be
The horrifying reality of college is that the professor makes the class (hence how websites like Rate My Professor have blessed us). Florida State junior Tanner Weaver was shaken up by a particularly difficult trigonometry requirement.“The teacher was expecting me to take it as the hardest class I’ve ever taken, but it’s not an important class in regards to my major,” Weaver said.
Then: Hit up your local community college
If you’re considering knocking out a class, but still need the credit, ask your advisor about switching it to your local community college. “At FSU there are only two professors that teach trig, so I explored Tallahassee Community College, and they offered it with a professor I heard great things about. It paid off since I got an ‘A’ in the class,” Weaver said. Dropping a class in favor of a popular professor can help you survive even the most grueling classes. So, if you have a college in your area, get your application and paperwork in before the deadline to reap the community college benefits.
If: You aren’t sure a class is the right fit
If your intuition is buzzing that this isn’t the class for you, feel free to toss it and never look back. University of Florida grad Megan Stevens was in two classes that could fill her requirement, and chose the one that called out to her like a bed after a 10 hour serving shift. “The teacher of the class I dropped just seemed too intense, and it seemed like a tense environment,” said Stevens.
Then: Do the shop and drop
Stevens recommended the “test drive” option for any indecisive student. Sign up for two classes that can fill the requirement, go to both the first day, then say adios to the subpar option. You only have until end of drop/add week to take advantage of this method. The first week of school is a hectic whirlwind of schedule changes, so a drop is no big deal. After the week ends you’ll be fully committed and face the consequences of dropping. You’ll be paying any financial aid back, so don’t hesitate on your decision, or you’ll have the financial aid office quoting Rihanna.“Bitch better have my money.”
Correction: An earlier version misstated Dano’s class standing.