What It’s Really Like To Drop a Class in College

This might come as a shock to some people, but college is hard. This came as a shock to me at least. I thought I would be bouncing from party to party nightly, all while successfully balancing my Pre-Med courses with ease. Oh boy, did I have a rude awakening. 


I’m convinced that everyone considers dropping a class at some point in their college career, but hardly do we hear the topic being discussed in our entry level, 300 person lectures. There exists this stigma surrounding the forbidden “dropped class” that frankly, holds a lot of people back from even considering dropping at all. As a result, students are more stressed in a class they think they have to be in, when in reality, there’s a simple fix. In light of this, I thought I  would share my own dropping-classes-in-college story; hopefully, this will show people that yes, you CAN thrive on your Pre-Med track without that pain in the neck class. 

For context, my university follows a course withdrawal system that allows a student to drop a course within the first ten days of a semester without ever having that class recorded on their transcript. After that, any class dropped must be approved by the professor of the course through an “Add/Drop” form, and appears essentially as a “W” on a transcript, or a withdrawal. Spooky right? When I first heard of the dreaded “W”, I thought to myself that I thankfully would never have one of those looming on my transcript. Phew. 

I dropped my first class my first semester of college.

Credit: @smartgirlstudy Instagram

Math has never, and I mean never, been a strong suit of mine. Even a mediocre suit. More like a loose-fitting, baggy suit that makes me feel a lot dumber than I am. Applying to “Survey of Calculus I” seemed like an easy enough goal, but I was violently out of place for the type of preparation I had in highschool (which was the bare minimum). This was probably the most stressful decision I had to make in college, because:

  1. I started off the class with a 50 percent on the first exam. Strong start. I should have called it quits then and there, but I really thought that with a little more time and caffeine that I could muster up a seemingly decent grade. 
  1. I got a 42 percent on the second to last exam. Yes, 42 percent. I was barely below passing the class, and if I had waited any longer, I would have gotten a withdrawal while FAILING on my transcript. Chills. 
  1. I was already really struggling in my chemistry course, and had a final coming up that contradicted with my final in math.  
  1. I needed to pass this class to stay on track with the Pre-Medcourse load. If I didn’t pass this class, I couldn’t take the next sequence of chemistry coming up next semester. 
  1. I had an abrupt loss in the family that made it impossible to focus on getting this grade up. 

6. I just really, really hate math.

So, I dropped  Calculus I. I accepted the fat “W” that would sit on my transcript forever and tried my best to move on from what felt to me like my biggest failure yet. I felt really guilty at the beginning. Did I not try my hardest? Could I have pushed through a little harder to get that passing C? 

Looking back, I realized that dropping didn’t mean that I couldn’t do it, only that I needed more time. 

Since dropping, I was able to retake the course on my own time and do better than I ever would have achieved in my first semester. I ended up getting an A for the class, something I think was only accomplished by admitting, in due time, that I wasn’t ready to be in the course.  All the setbacks I thought it would give me, like being behind in the next prerequisite courses for my major, have all been made up with a little extra work. I am currently enrolled in the summer course for the chemistry class I needed and am right back on track. 

Getting acclimated to a new environment is something that no one can truly prepare you for. Sure, there are tips and tricks that worked for some people, but I am a firm believer that the only way to really grasp your own true experience of college is to navigate your own path. 

Credit: Pinterest

At the end of the day, drop that math class that’s giving you trouble. Drop the class that gives you more stress and nail biting than you feel is healthy. I promise that the “W” on your transcript won’t mean as much as you think it will. There is no shame in needing more time, and there is no shame in asking for more help.

Now, by no means strive to drop a class: always strive to do your best and to push yourself, but know when you’re wearing yourself too thin. I promise, looking back you’ll be all the more thankful to your freshman year self.

Go you.

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