To Drop or Not to Drop

What? Change my class schedule after the semester has begun??

Have you ever been in a class and found out it was not what you expected? For me, it usually takes a few weeks to get a general feel for what the class is going to be like. It can also be hard to determine what your overall workload is going to be with all of your classes until after the semester has begun. But by then it’s too late to do anything about it, right? NOT necessarily. It can feel a little unsettling to make changes to your course schedule after the semester has started, especially when making these adjustments can be a little bit of a process. Nevertheless, I personally have found the few occasions where I needed to adjust my course schedule after the semester extremely worth it. The key is to know what your options are ahead of time and to act as soon as you can before it’s too late. Before we address these options, however, we need to cover two important points.

  1. Academic Calendar: Like your syllabus, the academic calendar acts as your roadmap, outlining important dates throughout the semester. It not only tells you about deadlines to withdraw or change your courses, but also reminds you when spring/fall break is as well as holidays when the school (including testing centers) are closed. Make sure to look there first. I personally like to have a printed copy on the first day of class or at least put those dates into my personal calendar.
  2. Financial Aid & Scholarship Office: Always contact the Financial Aid & Scholarship office before you adjust your class schedule. Even if you think you know what your financial aid/scholarships require or whether you will stay a full or part-time student, it’s good to double check if your decisions will affect your status to keep or receive any financial aid.

Now that you’ve got your Academic Calendar, here’s an explanation of the four different options on dropping or adjusting a course. Keep in mind that the deadlines for choosing them will vary depending on the semester and whether your class is during the full semester, 1st block, or 2nd block.

  • Cancel (CL): This means that when you drop the class, it won’t affect your GPA nor show up on your transcript record. This option will have the earliest deadline.
  • Withdraw (W): After the Cancellation deadline is passed, you can still “Withdraw” from a class until a certain date without affecting your GPA. The only difference is that your student transcript record will show that you had withdrawn from the class (indicated by the letter “W” ).
  • Declare Credit/No Credit (CR/NC). Do you still need more credits from classes that are outside your major or minor? This option allows you to take those non-required classes on a Pass or Fail basis (hence the name “Credit/no credit”). Your final letter grade won’t affect your GPA (as long as it’s C or higher). Instead, your focus here is simply passing the class and increasing your total credit count. The deadline to change a class to a credit/no credit basis is usually the same as the “Withdrawal” date.
  • Audit: This option gives you the opportunity to still learn and participate in a class without worrying about the grade affecting your GPA. While that may sound great, keep in mind that unlike CR/NC, these classes can’t count for college credit. I personally would only consider this option if you are just taking a class “for fun” and still planning to participate since non-participation could lead to a “W” (treating it like a withdrawal).

Please note that some special rules or exceptions may apply (particularly with the latter two choices). Feel free to click on the links above to learn more.

U don’t want a UW

You’ll notice that using any of these choices mentioned should not affect your GPA as long as you decide BEFORE THE DEADLINE. Any decision after that pretty much results in a UW (an unofficial withdrawal) which DOES negatively affect your grade like failing the class. Remember that you are responsible for your classes. You can’t drop a class simply by not showing up or giving up on homework. Be proactive in all aspects of your classes.

What About Refunds?

It’s also very important to keep track of refund dates for each semester. Generally speaking, the 3 deadlines are as follows:

  • 100% refund of tuition and fees for a class = End of 1st week of class or the following Monday
  • 90% refund = End of 2nd week of class or the following Monday
  • 80% refund = End of 3rd week of class or the following Monday. There are no refund opportunities after that.

Obviously, there are pros and cons to consider when dropping or adjusting a class. Hopefully, you don’t have to worry about using these changes too often, but it’s good to know all your available options in case you need them. Finally, while this should go without saying….I’m still going to say that the sooner in the semester you make any changes, the better off you’ll be.

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