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Can Professors Drop Students? This May Surprise You!

As of September of 2021, the college dropout rate averages around 40% of undergraduates in the United States (source). Students may choose to drop out due to stress, family and relationship difficulties, or financial struggles. But at one time or another, many students wonder: Can I be dropped from a class against my will? 

Professors can drop students if the school policy allows for it, although this isn’t common. If allowed, a professor may drop a student for not meeting the course guidelines. Otherwise, they may simply fail the student. 

Universities throughout the United States have different policies regarding adding and dropping classes. However, there are a few things you can do to avoid being forcefully dropped from a class. Read on to learn the most common reasons professors drop students and what you can do to prevent it from happening in your academic career. 

Can Professors Drop Students?

Do Most Colleges Allow Professors To Drop Students?

The majority of colleges don’t allow professors to drop students forcefully. Adding or dropping classes is left strictly to the student and the registrar’s office. However, if a student fails to meet the standards or expectations of a course, the professor can give them a failing grade.

See Do Professors Bump Up Grades?

Reasons a Professor May Drop a Student

In colleges worldwide, professors work with hundreds, if not thousands, of students each day. Many professors enjoy their jobs and take pride in furthering their students’ education. However, with each group of students comes unique struggles. 

Professors may become frustrated when a student fails to meet the guidelines and standards of a class. Typically, the professor outlines these guidelines in a syllabus or presents them at the beginning of a semester. The most common standards dishonored by students are class attendance policies and submission guidelines. 

The Student Fails To Attend Classes

It’s no secret that students have busy schedules. While juggling work responsibilities, clubs, and social lives, skipping a class or two can be tempting. However, if a student fails to attend an excessive number of class periods, professors can become frustrated (source). 

What counts as excessive absenteeism often depends on the professor. Most professors would consider missing five or more consecutive classes excessive.

Other professors track absences based on the percentage of class time missed. For example, if you don’t attend over 15 percent of classes, your absenteeism may be considered excessive. 

The Student Doesn’t Submit Assignments

Another common source of frustration for professors is students failing to submit their assignments. Suppose a student consistently decides not to complete their homework, tests, and essays.

In that case, an instructor will assume that the student is unwilling to put in the required effort to succeed in the class. 

The Student Continuously Displays Problematic Behaviors

Although many students can easily maintain positive relationships with instructors, there are situations in which students don’t get along with their professors (source). They may disagree with the class material or the professor’s unique teaching style.

But if students frequently disrupt class time and create a hostile learning environment, professors may look for an alternative course of action. 

Why Some Policies Allow Professors To Drop Students

When permitted, various reasons can make a professor feel justified dropping a student from their roster. Far and away, poor attendance is the most common of these reasons. 

Some Students Have Excessive Absences

If a student fails to attend classes, a professor may choose to drop them from their roster. The specifics of this circumstance depend on each professor and their policy. 

Some professors won’t hesitate to drop a student for missing as little as two or three class periods. Others are more lenient and allow students to miss class as long as they provide medical documentation justifying the absence. 

Review your class syllabus and meet with your professor to learn more about their attendance policy. 

Being Absent on the First Day of Class Is Intolerable

It’s not unheard of for professors to drop any students that don’t show up on the first day of class. Although dropping students at the very beginning of the semester may seem harsh, certain institutions like Sierra College in California allow professors to do so at their discretion.

What Happens if My Professor Drops Me?

You won’t receive credit for your class if your professor drops you from their roster. Furthermore, if you’re dropped from a class while relying on financial aid, you may have to pay the school for the financial aid they received for that course. 

Additionally, some universities are willing to provide refunds to any students dropped from a class before the add/drop semester deadline. 

If your professor drops you from a class, schedule a meeting with your financial advisor to find out whether or not you’ll be required to pay for the course in full. 

How To Avoid Being Dropped From a Class

No student wants to be surprised to find out that their professor dropped them from a class. Luckily, you can do a few things to keep your name on the course roster. 

Know Your School’s Policy

First and foremost, learn your particular school’s policy for dropping classes. Although it’s rare, your college could be one of the few that allow professors to drop students from their courses. You can visit your college’s website or contact an academic advisor to learn about your school’s policy. 

Communicate With Your Professors

If you can’t attend a class or submit an assignment, let your professor know. Maintaining open communication with your instructor will build a positive relationship and decrease the likelihood of future misunderstandings. 


Most colleges don’t allow professors to drop students from their courses without the approval of the student and the registrar. However, the policies of some institutions give professors the authority to do so. 

Professors may feel inclined to drop a student for a variety of reasons: 

  • Poor attendance 
  • Failure to submit assignments 
  • Disrespectful or disruptive behavior 

Look into the policies of your university and individual professor to ensure that you don’t find yourself removed from a class unknowingly. Maintaining open communication and a healthy relationship with your professors also help you prevent future misunderstandings.

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