Many of you are in your first week of a new semester. This can be a confusing time. There's always a learning curve when getting used to new things. Even if this isn't your first semester, you may find yourself questioning whether your schedule is working for you or if you could have made better choices. You may think you're in over your hear with a certain class or be intimidated by a strict professor. Dropping a class isn't always the best solution, but sometimes it may work in your favor. Here are some things to think about before dropping a class.
Do You Need It for Your Major?
Before dropping a class, it's important to take a look at your curriculum. Many courses are electives and are not necessary to meet graduation requirements. However, some are essential and must be taken. If the class you're worried about is needed for your major and you have no intention of changing your program of study, it;s probably a good idea to stick with the class. Who knows? You may end up getting a grasp of the material or deciding that the professor isn't really that bad. Worst case scenario, you'll get exposed to the course material and will be better prepared to take the class again.
Will It Affect Your Financial Aid?
Yes, changing your schedule might have an effect on your financial aid eligibility. Often, students who receive financial aid packages are required to maintan a certain number of credits, whether they're full time or part time. Always check with an academic adviser or financial aid representative before dropping a class. You don't want to find out later that you're ineligible for aid without first paying out of pocket to make up for the class that you dropped.
Can It Be Switched for Something Else?
Most schools have what's known as a drop/add period when you can make changes to your schedule without penalty. It's usually during the first week or two of the semester. After that, though you may be able to drop a class, you are unable to switch classes. Check with your professor or adviser to determine how long you have to do a drop/add, then take a look at the class you want to change. If it's an elective, you can probably just choose another course that fits in that particular block. These are the easiest kinds of changes to make and shouldn't have much affect on your curriculum and graduation path.
Will It Take Away from Your Other Classes?
Another consideration is whether the class you're struggling with will likely cause your performance in other courses to suffer. If it's a class you don't need or one that you feel you can take at another time, perhaps in the summer when you can dedicate more time to it, then dropping it might be a good plan. Just be sure to find out whether your graduation path or financial aid will be affected.
What's Going on in Your Life?
Are you struggling with personal or family issues right now? If you are, realize that some things may require your attention. You're only one person; you can't do always do it all successfully. You may need to drop to part time status or even decide to take a semster off. If this is something you're thinking about, be sure to talk to your academic adviser first. Again, you don't want to make a decision that will cause you to lose your financial aid. Most schools have policies in place to help with students who need to take a personal leave, but it's absolutely imperative that you go about it the right way. Make sure you complete all the required paperwork. When you're ready to return to school, you won't have any snags such as money owed or failing grades for classes that weren't attended. For the most part, I never worried about my adult student advisees taking time off. I knew they were dedicated to their studies and would be back.
You'll notice that the one thing that I mentioned throughout these tips is that it's important to talk to someone before deciding to change your schedule in any way. Advisers are paid to be familiar with school policy, and every school has their own rules about course requirements, financial aid and taking time off. Always get help before making your decision.