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I Dropped A Class…Here’s My Advice

Lexi discusses some factors that should be taken into account when considering whether or not to drop a class.

Lexi discusses some factors that should be taken into account when considering whether or not to drop a class.

Dear PE 293,

I am breaking up with you because I bit off more than I could chew this term. I’m really sorry, it’s not you, it’s me. We can still be friends, I promise that I love you and still think you are a wonderful class…

Wait, hold on, this is not that kind of blog. I dropped a class, which is very different from ending a romantic relationship! Let me tell you, I was still very conflicted and emotional about it, as I am sure you will probably be when you are faced with such a decision.

Listen carefully to me: I am not suggesting you drop a class. What I am doing is providing you an account of my experience with it, so that you might be a better informed Carl should you decide you would like to drop a class. I am offering some questions to guide your thought process, along with some well-meaning advice based off of my own experiences.

Ultimately, the decision to drop a class is between you, your advisor, and the Academic Standing Committee.

Now about my experience dropping a class: everything worked out great! I successfully dropped the class, nobody was injured, and life has gone on as normal. Here are just a few things I kept in mind when coming to my decision.

Why do I want to drop this class?

This question is completely open-ended. However, I imagine that three broad categories can be assumed:

  1. I do not have enough time.
  2. I am really struggling with the material.
  3. I am not enjoying myself.

Congratulations! Identifying why you want to drop a class is an essential part of the process. Now that you have identified why you want to drop a class, can you see any solutions to the problems you are having? In my case, I really thought about how I could make time for my PE class this term. However, the only way I could make time was by sacrificing some activities that keep me happy and healthy — sleeping, doing readings, and eating meals with friends. That would not have been such a great idea.

When you’re considering whether or not to drop a class, think about the ways that you might be able to make the best of the situation you are already in. Maybe that means asking for some support from your professors or Writing Center or QRC. Perhaps that means connecting with SHAC to address mental health needs that are making your studies more difficult. It could even mean re-thinking what you are trying to get out of your liberal arts education!

What requirement is the class fulfilling? Would I be able to fulfill it at some other point and some other way?

Personally, I think that this is one of the most important questions on the list. You don’t necessarily want to drop a class that is fulfilling your only requirement left to graduate unless you and your advisor feel you absolutely must!

At Carleton, there are some courses, like the Language Requirement, that are best taken sequentially. Taking them one after the other is the preferred, recommended, and advised route. However, some requirements can be fulfilled at any point in your college career, like the PE credit.

Since I am a spring-term sophomore (have you checked out my blog about choosing a major?), I still have about six terms left to complete two more PE courses. Although it was highly recommended that I finish the PE requirements by the end of my sophomore year, I will still be able to graduate as planned if I take the PE courses after this year. My plan is to take some other PE course (perhaps Juggling or Ballroom Dancing) in the fall and winter. While this isn’t the most efficient way to fulfill my Liberal Arts Requirements, my entire life won’t be thrown off course because of this single dropped class.

Lexi poses with a sign that says "I declared!"
I am still on track to graduate as planned!

How does my advisor/trusted adults in my life view it?

You have an academic advisor for a reason! Go talk to them about why you feel that you should drop this class. Maybe they have some strong opinions about it or advice on the process that will make your decision smoother.

In my case, my academic advisor and the class instructor both needed to approve my request because I wanted to drop the class during the Late Add/Drop period. This is standard procedure. Remember that you must go through the proper channels if you do decide to drop the class, or you risk receiving a Failing grade. One of my professors told me that they once had a student who just stopped showing up to classes and thought they would be automatically dropped, but that is not how the system works. The online form makes the process pretty simple and straightforward!

Another concern you might have is how graduate schools might see a dropped class on your transcript. I was assured by several trusted sources that the occasional DRP on a transcript is “no cause for concern.” Your decision whether or not to drop a class comes back to balancing your needs with your priorities. That sounds simple, but it really takes a lot of soul-searching.

Lexi reads under her blankets in her dorm room
Me, searching my soul, also known as readings under my blankets when it is slightly too cold in my dorm room.

Where will the time spent for this class actually go?

You should be honest with yourself. It doesn’t really matter what the reason is, as long as you feel justified with it. Would dropping this class mean you would have more time for your other courses? Would it mean you would have a breather in a very hectic week? Would it allow you to show up as a better functioning human to your other commitments?

Time spent after dropping my PE class has gone to my other classes and getting enough sleep at night. While at first it didn’t seem like it was making that much of a difference, my roommate can tell you that I am a nicer person to be around with my thirty minutes extra sleep every night. Although I do not have quantitative evidence that my grades are going up, trust me when I say that I am much more proud of the work I am turning in now that I have spent more time on it. It assures me knowing that my time is not being wasted!

Jules browses an antique store in Northfield
Letting go of an extra commitment has meant that I have more time to de-stress and do things that nourish my soul – like thrifting with my roommate!

Main Takeaways

Carls are known to sometimes bite off more than they can chew. Sometimes that means we have to end commitments even after certain deadlines have passed. Really, this blog is just to assure you and myself that dropping a class isn’t going to cause the world to implode. Repeat after me: It is not a moral failing to drop a class!

Carleton, collectively, enjoys participating in the community by taking classes, being a part of clubs and sports, and even having on-campus jobs. To top it all off, we are all humans, with mortal vessels that need to be taken care of physically and emotionally. Sometimes, dropping a class is the best option, but only after you have carefully weighed all your options with your advisor and other support systems!

Lexi Wallace (she/her) is excited to be returning to Carleton as a sophomore. She works as an Admissions Blogger, Russian Teaching Assistant, and Writing Consultant. She plans on becoming a SOAN and Russian double major, but you’ll have to ask her what she ends up declaring in the spring. Her current obsessions are oat milk, NCIS, and Doc Martens.