It’s mid-semester and something just isn’t right. You’ve been struggling all semester with one class, putting your all into it, and not seeing the payoff you want to see. You’ve been working so hard, but your midterm grade comes back and it’s not looking amazing. All you want to do is drop it. But you’ve already made it so far and you don’t want to feel like a “quitter.” How do you know if you should drop a class?
Sometimes it feels like once you pass the add/drop period that you will sever a professor-student relationship if you drop a class. You might feel like you should just push through and suffer until the end. I’m not here to tell you that either of those things are wrong. But I can tell you that it might be more important that you take your mental health into play.
Now, this article isn’t going to tell you to give up or drop a class just because things get tough. But this is for those of you who, like me, don’t like to “quit” at anything, and are struggling with feeling trapped. This mostly has to do with classes that don’t affect your major or graduation track, and I’m not going to tell anyone to drop a class if it means they won’t be a full-time student. But still, sometimes it is okay to take something off of your plate.
Here are five signs you may need to drop that class:
It’s the main source of your anxiety
Okay, let’s get one thing straight. Classes can make anyone anxious with their workload and exams and so on. But, if you sit back and realize that the source of all your panic would be solved if one thing was removed from your life and that one thing is the class you despise, then maybe it’s time to consider withdrawing. Your mental health is super important. And with being so busy all the time, sometimes it’s easy to forget to take care of your mental health while in college. You can’t succeed if you aren’t taking care of yourself. And if this class is causing you to lose sleep, panic, and deteriorate mentally, why hurt yourself more by staying in the class?
You’re working overtime with no payoff.
This is a big sign that you might want to get rid of that class. When you put hours and hours into a class, and you understand the concepts, but you still aren’t seeing grades that match, that might show you that maybe this class isn’t something you want in your life anymore. This especially applies to circumstances where you’ve dedicated most of your time to this class, including going to office hours, meeting with your professor, and doing more work than you normally would need to. When a singular class is taking up hours of your time and not allowing you to leave time for things you enjoy, to do work for other classes, or to simply have time to focus on yourself, then that is a red flag. But when it’s doing that and you still aren’t seeing grades to match all the hard work you’re doing, then what’s the point of all that effort?
Your grades in your other classes are dropping.
This one goes with #2 as well. When you are unable to put in work into the classes that matter or classes that you actually enjoy because you are putting so much work into a class that is not showing you any payoff, then that class might be toxic. This is a hard thing to come to the conclusion of and may require a lot of thinking, but if this is a conclusion that you come to, then this means you’re now self-aware. If it has become hard for you to manage your priorities all because of one class and you feel like you are missing out on the full experience of those other classes, then why waste your energy on the toxic class?
The grade will heavily affect your GPA.
Let’s say you’ve worked super hard and done everything you have to do for the class. You turn things in on time, you understand the concepts, you produce your best work possible and you spend hours making sure everything is perfect. However, you still aren’t doing your best. When you are a high-achieving student, seeing a low grade may feel like a punch in the gut. You may feel like you have to continue to bend over backward to try and save that grade. And that might be the case. However, if this is a class that you will be fine without and the grade you receive will only harm your GPA, then you might want to withdraw. If you know it will keep you from graduating with honors or being on an honors list or keeping the GPA you need for your scholarship or some other thing that you have always strived for, then replacing that grade with a “W” isn’t so bad. Why risk the goals you have for yourself for one singular class?
The professor is not being understanding.
Now this one is special because it means you’ve had to already communicate with your professor about your struggles in their class. Maybe you told them that their class makes you anxious or that you are trying so hard and you want to do well and you are disappointed in how you are doing. If they aren’t helping you or being understanding about where you are coming from, you might not be able to expect anything different from them. If you keep coming to them for help because you want to do well, and they just tell you to continue to struggle, you will do exactly that: struggle. Some people might say that this is good practice for dealing with people in “the real world” but you do have to remember that this is just a class and this is just a teacher. It’s not the end of the world and your mental health matters, even if it doesn’t seem that way to your professor. Sometimes your professor just can’t help you, and that’s okay. But that’s when you have to take responsibility for your future regarding said class.
To punctuate my point, it is okay to drop a class. It is okay to withdraw from a class in the middle of a semester. A “W” on your transcript may seem daunting, but if it’s surrounded by A’s and B’s and you continue to work hard, it’s not going to matter. Prioritizing your mental health is important and while school is important too, sometimes it’s okay to let go of things that are making your life harder. It will improve you as a person, make you more self-aware, and show that you know yourself and what you need. It isn’t “quitting,” it’s a good thing. Before you drop a class, always talk to your professor, your advisor, and someone from academic advising to make sure it’s the right choice. But don’t be afraid of confronting that choice if it feels like the right one. This is YOUR college experience, own it.