A new semester at school means a lot of things: new trends, new crushes, and new classes. Unless the scheduling gods love you—we’re jealous, if that’s the case—nobody’s course load is perfect. Usually, there’s that one class you just can’t stand. The monotone professor? The painfully dull readings? The grueling exams? We know; it’s all too familiar. With these unbearable courses, sometimes dropping a class is your only option. But where you should draw the line between a class you need to drop and a class worth charging through with a (forced) smile? Though everyone’s situation is different, HC’s advice will help you decide whether or not you should say au revoir to that class.
Situation #1: The textbooks were out of stock, so you’re already behind.
Your college’s bookstore can be both a blessing and a curse, but it’s definitely a curse when they suddenly run out of that mandatory textbook. How rude, right? Although you may feel as if you’re already behind, it’s no reason to drop a class. If you were to switch into a different class, wouldn’t you be a little behind too? Instead, ask a friend (or that Campus Cutie who sits next to you) if you could borrow their textbook. Worst case scenario, you stay in one night to catch up on all your work once you finally receive your textbook. Of course this isn’t ideal, but that ABC party seemed lame anyway.
Situation #2: The class is a higher-level course than you need and it’s way too hard.
While it’s great to broaden your intellectual horizons, enrolling in a higher-level course is not always a good move. Although advanced classes have cooler topics—“Abnormal Psychology” sounds a lot more interesting than “Psychology 101”—there are some drawbacks. If the heightened difficulty isn’t enough to make you cringe, you’re going to feel a little left out when you’re the only person in class who doesn’t know the basics. “If your new psychology class actually requires a background knowledge in neuroscience, and you’re just looking for a 100-level course, save yourself the stress,” says Micha Sabovik, the assistant dean at Boston University’s College of Communication.
If you drop this type of class now, you might not have to face its evil academic consequences. “I accidentally took a class that was way above my level and it wasn’t remotely related to what I was interested in,” says Andy Bensch, a senior at San Francisco State University and HC’s Real Live College Guy. “I withdrew from the class a few weeks later and it didn’t affect my GPA at all.”
Even if your advanced class sounds like a blast, consider taking a lower-level class instead. That way, you can enjoy the advanced class another semester once you’re finally prepared for it and won’t be so worried about keeping up.
Situation #3: The syllabus is so full of assignments that it almost looks like a textbook.
That awkward moment when you pick up a copy of your class’s syllabus and you thought it was a massive reading assignment. Two essays, three quizzes, and a midterm in the first half of the semester alone? Just the look of the syllabus makes you want to drop the class.
In this situation, it’s important to trust your instincts and know when enough is enough. “Gauging academic rigor when registering for a class can be difficult, but syllabus day generally provides a clear idea of what to expect,” says Sabovik, referring to the first day of class when the professor goes over the assignments for the semester. “It’s okay, and important, to acknowledge when you’re in over your head.” If this class is mandatory and wasn’t too hard to get into, try scheduling it with less demanding classes next semester instead.