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Will Dropping a Class Affect Your College Acceptance?

Good grades, impressive extracurriculars, and standardized test scores are critical factors in receiving a college acceptance offer. In addition, colleges often look at what types of classes you’ve been taking and whether or not you have dropped any courses. If you’ve dropped a class, will you even get into another college?

Dropping a class or two will likely not affect your college acceptance. Choosing to drop a class is often preferable to receiving a low grade that will affect your overall GPA. You want to avoid dropping too many classes, as that could reflect poorly on your academic abilities. 

In this article, I’ll explore more about how dropping a class can affect your college acceptance, if there are any valid reasons for dropping a class, and things to consider trying before resorting to withdrawing from a course. 

Dropped class impact on college acceptance.

Dropping a Class in High School

Unlike college, there are very few instances where dropping a class in high school will permanently affect your transcript. 

Often, high schools allow you to drop a course without penalty during the first week or so of the semester or quarter. This gives you a chance to consider whether or not the class is suitable for you without having to worry about it affecting your GPA

Even if you choose to drop a class after the deadlines, it may not appear on your transcript. If your school does indicate dropped classes, it’ll likely be with a W in place of a grade. 

This won’t count towards or against your overall GPA. 

How To Drop a Class

Dropping too many classes after your high school’s enrollment deadlines will result in several W’s on your transcript, which may make colleges wary of your ability to commit to courses. If you choose to drop, make sure to do so before these deadlines so that colleges won’t see it on your transcript. 

If you want to drop a course, speak to your academic counselor or go to the registrar’s office. They’ll help you drop the class and potentially replace it with another, more appropriate one.

Reason To Drop a Class

There are many reasons why you might want to drop a class. While you might think that dropping a course means that you can’t handle the material or it might make you look lazy, there are several valid reasons why someone should drop a class. 

Here are a few reasons why you might drop a class (source):

  • Your course load is too heavy. If your course load is already filled with challenging courses, sometimes one extra class is too much to handle. Overwhelming yourself with too much homework can cause your grades to drop, so it’s better to maintain your GPA and drop the class. 
  • You don’t have time to do the homework. If your schedule is filled with classes, extracurriculars, and maybe even work, you might not have enough time to take a class. Dropping a class will free up your schedule to focus on the rest of your responsibilities. 
  • You aren’t interested in the class. It’s okay to change your mind about what you’re interested in. You might have signed up for a class that you’re no longer interested in or that won’t prepare you for what you want to study in college. You can drop the course to take something more relevant.
  • You don’t like the teacher. Sometimes, a teacher who doesn’t teach in your preferred learning style can make studying difficult. If you know from the first few classes that you’d rather learn from a different teacher, dropping the course can ensure you keep your grades up. 
  • You don’t feel like the class is challenging you. On the other hand, if the course you have signed up for feels too easy, you might want to challenge yourself by taking a more challenging class in the same subject, like honors or AP courses. Dropping the easier class will allow you to enroll in one that can better meet your academic needs. 

Dropping an Advanced Placement Course

While dropping a course won’t affect your college acceptance, you want to be careful about which classes you choose to withdraw from. 

Taking Advanced Placement courses shows colleges that you can take on college-level material and can even give you college credit if you pass their exams. Dropping too many Advanced Placement classes might cause your college to think that you aren’t prepared for college-level material after all. 

However, maintaining a good GPA is more important overall. If you feel you might receive a poor grade in your Advanced Placement course, you should drop it and take a regular class instead to keep your GPA high. 

Colleges would rather see a transcript filled with good grades like A’s and B’s and a withdrawal or two than poor grades (source).

See Do Bad AP Scores Affect Admission? Facts And Misconceptions

Things To Consider Before Dropping a Class

While dropping one or two classes will probably not affect your college acceptance, withdrawing from several courses could leave your college with some questions about your academic commitment. 

To prevent yourself from jeopardizing your college acceptance with several dropped classes, take a moment to explore why you want to drop. 

Here are a few things to consider before dropping a class (source):

  • The deadline for dropping classes. Dropping a class after the no-penalty deadline could result in a W on your transcript. While this won’t affect your GPA, you don’t want too many of these on your transcript. If you’ve already missed the deadline, consider asking yourself if you can push through until the end of the semester or not. 
  • The grade you think you’ll receive. If you’ve missed the deadline but believe you can receive a good grade in the class, consider staying. However, if you know that you’ll receive a poor grade in the class, don’t hesitate to drop it. A dropped course looks better than a poor grade to colleges. 
  • How your mental health is doing. If you already have a lot on your plate, a problematic class might cause you even more unwanted stress. Prioritizing your mental health will help you do better in school. If you feel overwhelmed, drop the course and use the extra time to explore mental health and stress-relief resources.

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

Final Thoughts

If you’ve signed up for a class that’s too difficult, time-consuming, or irrelevant, it won’t affect your college acceptance if you choose to drop it. Colleges prefer consistent, good grades over dropped classes. However, you want to make sure you do all you can to prevent dropping too many courses. 

Overall, dropping a class won’t affect your college acceptance. 

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