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How to Handle Dropping a Class

Sometimes it's necessary to drop a course, but there are smart ways to handle it.

Maya Moritz

November 09, 2015

How to Handle Dropping a Class
Whether you came in with a plan for your major or you arrived undecided, you may be surprised at how much you enjoy (or dislike) your classes. What now?

Timing Matters

Dropping a class is tricky after the first week for many reasons. Lab partners may be assigned, classes could be full, or timetable conflicts may arise.

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For this reason, you shouldn’t assume that a problem will resolve itself. The sooner you move classes, the easier the transition will be for you. The most important aspect of dropping a class is convincing the faculty responsible for the move that you aren’t simply slacking off. Start by requesting a transfer as soon as possible rather than procrastinating (which is harder than it sounds). That way, even if the staff is not swayed by your first appeal, they will see your determination when you try again.

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Why Drop a Class?

Maybe the professor is notoriously difficult to understand, possibly jeopardizing your grade, or the class is too far away to reach your next class. Even if the excuse is something somewhat trivial, like a class begins at nine in the morning and you know you’ll never wake up for it, you can find a way to drop the course.

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As a side note, don’t let something like a boring professor or an inconvenient lecture time stop you from taking a course that you need for your major. You are there for an education, after all.

Work Your Way Up

If you’ve decided to drop a class, don’t call the dean of the school right away. Start with the head lecturer or your guidance counselor (every school has an equivalent staff member). The lecturer may have advice. For example, instead of dropping my Spanish class, I switched levels within the class to accommodate my next class (which began five minutes after but was held twenty minutes away).

What to Say

Don’t have your parents send the initial request. Professors expect you to handle your own business and may not take you seriously if your first call at any sign of trouble is home. Begin with a sincere and well-crafted email. Spend time on it and maybe even have your parents or another trusted adult proofread it for you. Give the administration three or four days to respond. If you don’t receive a response or the response is vague, call the school during the day and ask whom you should contact about the problem.

If You’re Rejected

Your school may think that you need more time to acclimate and may suggest waiting for some time. Depending on the class, they may be right. If two or three weeks pass and you still feel the need to drop the course, call again or meet with your counselor as you will be missing valuable material from whatever course you will join. Your parents should call the school as a last resort, when you know that you will not succeed in the course and the college is offering no alternative.

Keep in Mind

Come to the meeting knowing which class you wish to join. Ask friends if they find their classes interesting or come with them to a lecture. Consider the credits you will need. If you’re dropping a class that fulfills a requirement, you may wish to find another with the same benefits. The administration will likely not let you switch twice, so choose wisely and consider your workload. Additionally, employers know when a student is taking a class for the easy “A.” Challenge yourself if possible, but remember that you’re still getting used to the social life and your other classes. Worst comes to worst, you may have to stay in the class for the semester. Don’t give up. Try your hardest. Go to office hours and speak to the professor. At the end of the term, the class will be over, and you’ll have a better idea of what you want to study.

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