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Should I Drop or Fail? (A College Student’s Perspective)

College is an essential step towards your future goals and career. There will always be bumps in the road, and life can sometimes jump up and surprise you. You may have trouble with your health or family concerns that take attention away from your studies, so you might want to consider dropping a class. 

You should drop a class, as it looks better than failing a class. Dropped courses don’t affect your grade, and you can retake them when you’re ready, but it can be easier said than done to maintain perfect academic scores. While this isn’t as important as high school, GPA matters in college. 

The rest of this article will explore and answer any questions you have regarding college classes and if you should drop or fail them. 

Is It Better To Drop a Class or Fail It?

If you are in a position where you are considering a withdrawal, drop out, or fail a course, make sure you speak with your professor or academic advisor before deciding. 

Dropping a class is better for your academic career because you can retake the course under better circumstances. If you notice your scores slipping and you know you will fail a class, you should contact your professor as soon as possible. Ask your professor questions regarding the subject. 

Here are some questions to ask your professor if you are failing:

  • Can I schedule a time to speak with you after class?
  • Are there any tutoring programs for this course?
  • How can I better understand the subject?
  • How can I strengthen my grades in the future?
  • Are there any habits you’ve noticed that I can change that will positively affect my grades?

Most professors do not like failing someone and will try to help out a student as much as possible. 

Does Dropping a Class Look Bad?

Sometimes when a student has taken on too much or has a personal problem they are dealing with, it can cause a student’s grades to be negatively affected. It can also become uninteresting or bothersome to continue a class you know you aren’t interested in or need for your future. 

Dropping a class doesn’t look bad. It can reduce stress and anxiety, and it doesn’t negatively affect your grade. It can be much better for your academic career than failing or even settling for a C or a D. 

Dropping a class may even raise your GPA in the long run because you’ll have time to focus on the classes you are participating in and the courses that matter most for your future (source). Colleges consider withdrawing from a class better than failing a class. 

However, colleges still prefer to see decent grades rather than a whole list of courses you have decided to drop. 

Before deciding that dropping a course is right for you, make sure you speak to your academic advisors and counselors. If possible, you should try to correct mistakes and finish the classes you start.   

Does Dropping a Class Affect GPA?

GPA is not as important as it is in high school. 

In high school, GPA is essential to getting into the college or university of your choice, but on the other hand, colleges focus on passing and graduation. The importance of GPA is still distinguished, although it centers on different aspects. 

Dropping a class does not affect GPA. If you decide to retake the course, then it will have an impact. However, your GPA may rise if you are focused on your remaining studies. If you are majoring in any studies other than law or medicine, your GPA may not matter as much. 

You still need to pass your classes to obtain your degree, but different majors have diverse expectations. 

Most recruiters aren’t interested in GPAs, as they understand that GPAs do not tell the entire story. Recruiters want their employees to have a good education, but grades are not as important as one might think. 

See Does Your College GPA Really Matter?

You want to pass your classes and give your all to your studies. However, if you drop out, withdraw from a course or fail, it probably won’t ruin your chances at your dream job. 

How Bad Is Withdrawing From a Class in College?

If you are having problems with your courses, you have a few options. You can either speak with your professor regarding your grades, drop out of your class, withdraw or fail. Some of these possibilities are worse than others. 

Withdrawing from a college class is not bad. Your academic report will have a W on it, and a couple of W’s are nothing to worry about. However, if you have more than that, colleges will consider you unable to handle more than a few courses at a time. 

If the college recognizes that you are unable to handle your set of classes, it can negatively impact your academic career depending on if you are a full-time student or not. 

Let’s consider the difference between dropping out of a class and withdrawing. Both are essentially the same thing, except for the deadline. If you remove yourself after the deadline, it is considered a dropout (source). 

Of course, the terms good or bad are subjective and vary depending on your situation and circumstances. Always consider your choices and options before making the best decision for yourself and your future. 

Does a W Go Away if You Retake the Class?

There are some misconceptions regarding the infamous W placed on an academic transcript. Some students will accept a fail because they don’t want to have a W on their report. 

A W does not go away if you retake the class, but some students receive more W’s than they should due to unknowingly thinking that they get removed after retaking the class. Withdraws, or W’s, stay on a student’s academic transcript and do not get removed even if the student retakes the course. 

Some students will accept a fail rather than a W because failed classes get retaken without a W placed on the original report, and a better grade replaces the GPA. However, it depends on the grade policies of a particular college or institute. 

As I’ve stated, W’s don’t affect grades, GPAs, and you will not get any amount of credit towards your course. 

There are, of course, circumstances where a withdrawal is on a transcript without being entirely correct. In these cases, you may appeal your W to your university. 

Will Dropping or Failing a Class Impact Financial Aid?

Before deciding to drop, withdraw or fail a class, there are a few things you should consider. 

Dropping or failing a class will impact financial aid as you might not get any further funding. If you drop a course, then your cost may change, which may result in decreased eligibility for funding. Some funds and scholarships are only allowed when a student obtains a certain grade point average.

You should also consider what type of financial aid you have. Consider these before deciding what you should do with a course study (source). 

If you have already spent money on a course, you may receive a refund of that money if you decide a class isn’t the right course for you. These refunds may or may not be credited to you after you withdraw. 

College students should speak with a professor, counselor, and academic advisor before withdrawing or dropping from a course study. You may have more or alternative options available to you. 

Decide If Dropping a Class Is Worth the Trouble

It is worth dropping a class in college if you decide that course is not suitable for you. Always speak to your teachers and guidance counselor before making any decisions. 

Dropping or withdrawing from a course is much better for your GPA than failing. If you fail a class, you may make it up if you retake a class. However, it may or may not replace your GPA score. 

You may feel that it is worth it to drop a class. The course might be too easy for you or don’t match up with your career goals. It may also be difficult for you to take on at this time in your school life. 

Remember not to worry if you feel this is the right choice for you. 

Your circumstances may change, or you may be able to make up a failing grade if you take advantage of the right programs that are available to you. Taking a W instead of failing may be the best choice for you if you do not have many W’s on your transcript. 

If you have more than one W on your academic report, then it may be better for your grades if you fail and then retake the course later when your circumstances have changed for the better. 

What Happens if You Drop a Class?

A couple of things may happen to you and your academic career when you decide to drop a class from your course study. 

When you drop a class, you are un-enrolling in a course. That means that it is wiped from your record if you unenroll before the deadline. It may not even show up as a W on your transcripts. If you withdraw from a course before the deadline, you may also get refunded for the class. 

Any fees are removed from your record that the college charged, but it depends on your college and its policies regarding dropping or withdrawal from a course. 

Always check in with your advisors before making any permanent decisions.

If you drop out of your class after the deadline, you may catch a W and have to retake the course. If you choose not to retake the class, then your college will consider the circumstances of your drop. 

Dropping a class can be better for your GPA, your life stressors, and your wallet. It is always best to consider what is most suitable for you and your future in the long run. You don’t want to wait until the deadline to drop, and you end up failing. 

That may not be the best idea for your academic career or your situation. 

This Is What Happens If You Fail a Class

It is never a good thing to fail a college class. Dropping a course would be better for your GPA because failing impacts your refunds, your scholarships, and your college experience in a negative way.

If you find yourself failing due to life circumstances or simply because you have decided to retake the class at a later date, there are a few things you need to consider.

Here are some things failing students should be aware of:

  • Financial Aid
  • GPA Scores
  • Graduate School
  • Self Esteem

Failing a class can negatively affect your grades, your financial aid, and your academic career. Failing is normal, as it is all a part of learning. 

However, you can’t risk losing support and future career plans if you cannot pass many college courses. 

Don’t forget to pick yourself up again after you have failed a class. It doesn’t mean your future is over, and it doesn’t mean you are not good enough. It simply means that you need to consider why you failed and how you can pass in the future. 

Some colleges even allow some students to retake a failed class before any consequences are triggered. 


Dropping or failing a college class is a tough choice to consider when being in college. You may want to consider your goals, your financial aid, your career path. Whether you decide to drop or fail, you are on the right path towards your academic career. 

You have support from your professors, your advisors, and your counselors. 

You may have the chance to retake your classes and raise your GPA at a later date. A dropped or failed class isn’t the end of your academic career. It’s only a bump in the road. 

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