To drop or not to drop… that is the question, or at least might be the question you’re asking yourself now that you’ve seen how your one professor is, or how hard a course is really going to be. For many universities and colleges the deadline to swap or drop courses is fast approaching and now is the time to decide whether or not taking that extra course was a good idea (who knew that underwater basket weaving could be so hard!). Maybe you really don’t like one of your professors, or you realize you’re in way over your head in tough subject matter. Whatever the reason, deciding to drop a course can be a tough decision. Here are 4 questions you should ask when deciding whether to drop a course or not.

Do I need to take this course?

It seems obvious but this is the first place to start. Some courses are necessary for your degree and some are not. Depending on your situation, you might also need to maintain a certain course load for funding / financial aid requirements and/or for future applications to professional programs. Your priority should always be the courses that help you achieve your academic goals. Easy courses might be fun but they can add to your stress levels and make you too busy. Sometimes dropping an elective can ease your workload considerably and reduce your overall stress

Do I need to take this course now?

This is important to ask since many courses are available to take in other terms. It is a good idea to see if your difficult courses could be spread out. Your winter term might be really hard but perhaps another term later on won’t be. It might be tempting to give yourself an easy future term by taking all your hard courses at once; however, this may lead you to overwork yourself. Ultimately, burning out is a big concern and spreading out the difficult courses to different terms can help prevent this.

Is there a good alternative?

A great way to get rid of a course you don’t like without losing a credit is to switch into another course. Sometimes there will be easier or more intriguing options for you than the course you’re in. Alternatively, if the professor of a course is giving you trouble, look around for an alternate section. Many courses are taught by several professors and finding a professor that you learn well from can have an enormous impact on your ability to do well in a course.

What will the effect be on my marks?

There is a lot of pressure on people to take a full course load, however in some cases dropping a course can be one of the best decisions you can make. When considering your transcript in the future, often employers and graduate schools are looking for your overall marks–not how many courses you took per term. If taking a reduced course load is going to improve your grades considerably, then dropping the course can be a very good decision. Making an appointment with your academic advisor to go over these details is also a good plan. A reduced course load might make university go an extra term for you, but ultimately your grades will be significantly improved which will better your chances for future success. In the end what’s the hurry to finish? Enjoy school while you can!

Ultimately dropping a course is not a decision to be taken lightly, but by asking yourself the right questions you can answer the question: to drop or not to drop.   

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