With the March 15 deadline to withdraw from a class nearing, you may find yourself considering lightening your class load by cutting a course or two – but take a moment to think about it.

While dropping a course is certainly an option, there may be other alternatives. Since withdrawing from a course can have some unexpected consequences – including delaying your graduation date – make sure doing so is a safe strategy. After all, you’ve put a lot of work into the class – it's possible you can retain your investment by making a few changes.

Here are two common reasons students cite when withdrawing from a class:

1. Poor grades or falling behind with assignments

Some classes are incredibly challenging, pushing you harder than most courses you’ve taken. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, if you’re dissatisfied with your performance, you might be thinking about dropping the course. There are other options to consider besides dropping the class, including the following.

  • If you are having difficulty understanding the material, the Office of Student Accessibility provides tutoring for several subjects, whether one-on-one or in a group, for a fee. Additionally, many professors are happy to meet with individual students and explain a topic in greater detail during office hours.
  • If you feel you have a good grasp on the class material but need an extra boost to your grade, many professors offer extra credit assignments, and some are willing to work with students to create additional ones.
  • If there aren't enough assignments in the class to raise your grade to the one desired, dropping the class may be advisable.

It is important to consider that the lowest passing grade is a D- unless otherwise stated by the department. You can repeat the class if you earned a D+ or lower. If your department requires a certain grade, you may repeat the course with approval from the Registrar’s Office if you received a D+ or higher. If the class is a prerequisite for an upper-division course in your major, meet with an advisor to make sure dropping the class won’t delay your graduation.

If you’re falling behind, keep track of how many classes you've missed, especially if you expect to miss more. Speak with your professor in advance if you have to miss classes for work, a doctor's appointment or a sports event. Some of these may be counted as “excusable” absences.

2. Conflict with the professor

Students sometimes feel that their professor is not adequately explaining the course material, or that a different professor would make the class experience more agreeable. Before you drop a class for these reasons, consider the following.

  • Students are encouraged to speak with professors about their concerns. In cases where only one faculty teaches a required course, this may be the best option and may prove educational for both parties.
  • Alternatively, academic appeals can be made to the chair of the department or the dean of the school under which the class is taught. If you have a grievance of another kind against a professor, you can also contact the dean for a hearing.
  • If the class is required, but another professor teaches it, withdrawing from the class with the intent to take it again another semester may be advisable.

Other factors

There are other factors that contribute to considering withdrawing from a course. Stress, health issues and a busy work schedule can often be legitimate reasons for taking a step back from a class. An advisor at the Advising Center can connect you with potential resources and help make sure that dropping a class won’t affect your academic standing or graduation schedule.

Here are some final things to consider when weighing your options.

  • Students taking fewer than 12 credits will be designated as part-time, which may affect the amount of financial aid they receive. For more information, contact the Financial Aid office.
  • Unless a student is part-time, withdrawing from a class will not affect their tuition amount as long as they remain full-time (12 or more credits) though class fees are non-refundable after the second week of classes.
  • Some students, particularly those interested in graduate school, are concerned about withdrawn classes – “W’s” – negatively affecting their transcript. While such students should avoid having several W’s on their transcript, admissions boards will likely not consider one or two as a reason to reject an application, according to Alex Mutch, assistant director of graduate admissions recruitment at Biola. However, a UW – which is given when a student withdraws after the final date to do so, is counted as an F and affects GPA accordingly.

The last day to withdraw from a course with a W is March 15. Withdrawing a class can be done by visiting myaccount.biola.edu and finding the “Drop a course from your schedule” button under “Student Tools.” To discuss other options or make sure withdrawing from the class will not affect your academic standing, make an appointment with the Advising Center.