Class Schedule Advice: Dropping a Course – College Info Geek

Class Schedule Advice: Dropping a Course – College Info Geek

September 19, 2019 72 By Ronny Jaskolski


In our wide world there
exists a variety of objects that generally should
not be dropped, bowling balls, containers
of pure sodium, that kinda thing. However, by contrast, there
are also several things that should be dropped, such as fire ants, in fact that’s probably
the most important thing you should drop. Also, the subject
when your uncle Gary brings up politics at
Thanksgiving dinner, and also, classes. In last week’s video we
looked at some research which showed that
academic overload is the most common cause
for long term student stress and burnout. And that’s why in this
one I wanna argue that it’s OK to drop classes
when you need to. Now, many students
view dropping a class as tantamount to actually
failing that class flat out. And I understand
their reasoning. We have ideals that tell us
to stick with our commitments, to follow through. Those that persevere
through adversity will succeed, while
those who don’t are doomed to a life of regret and a distinctive lack
of sports car purchases. But, let’s dispense with the
inspiring platitudes here. Yes, perseverance is a
virtue worth cultivating, and yes, in general
you should approach each of the things you commit to with the intention of
seeing them through. But there’s an element of
tactical decision making to be injected here, especially with respect
to your class schedule. And the reason for that is
that many ambitious students tend to over commit when
they’re signing up for classes. I’ve been in the
same exact position that you’ve probably
found yourself in. It’s time to sign
up for classes, and you’re thinking
about the new semester. And in addition to that,
you’re thinking about new semesters in general, which brings about
associations of new beginnings and full stocks of will power. As a result, you
tend to over commit when you’re signing up. So, say you’ve fallen victim
to this line of thinking and now you’ve realized
that the work load you’ve signed yourself
up for is too much. What’s the solution? Well, simple, drop a class. If you’re diligent about
gauging your classes early on, it’s likely that
dropping a class will have no negative effect on you. My university, for example, let people drop
unlimited classes with no marks on their transcripts
up to five days after the semester started. Even after that, you could drop
a limited amount of courses up to half way
through the semester. Though, if you’re gonna do this, you should probably
note the exact limit that your university has. I dropped courses several
times as a student for a variety of reasons. A couple of elective
classes I took ended up having way
higher work loads than I anticipated,
so I dropped those. For another class I
eventually realized I was only part of the
program that required it because I wanted to
pad my resume out. I didn’t actually really
care about the program, and it wasn’t gonna help
me achieve my goals, so I eventually just
dropped the class, actually dropped
out of the program, and used the time it
freed up to do things that I actually cared about. There are other valid reasons
for dropping classes as well, such as a professor
who’s teaching style just doesn’t work for you. You could mitigate
some of these risks before the semester starts
by using things like Rate My Professors and
reading the syllabi to get a feel for the workload, but you won’t know for
sure how a class goes until you’re sitting in it. So, here is express permission. Drop classes when you need to. Find out what your
university’s drop policy is and then use it
to your advantage to create a schedule
that you control, rather than one that
takes over your life. This gives you time
to fill your schedule with other useful pursuits
like part time jobs, extracurriculars, events, and
much needed relaxation time. In the case of a bad professor, it also gives you the chance
to look for a different section of the same class that might
have a better professor. Now, one caveat here though. When you drop a class,
make sure you open your graduation plan and
update the change. If you don’t have
a graduation plan that lays out the
courses you plan to take up until graduation, I highly recommend creating one. If you want, you can get
a copy of a spreadsheet that I used for my
own graduation plan. And I’ve included it
as a free download, along with my free book
that you can get by clicking on the card or the
link in the description. Now, I realize that this
might not be a viable strategy for every single
student out there. Maybe you’re in a
program or a college that requires you to take
a strict set of classes every single semester, and you can’t drop any of them. Or maybe you need
to take college at an accelerated pace
in order to be able to afford it. Likewise, it’s a strategy
that might not solve all of your time
management problems, especially if you’re a
student who has to spend a lot of hours at a part
time job in addition to your studies and classes. Still, it’s something that
deserves consideration. And I think the
biggest take away here is that dropping a class should
not be seen as a failure. It should be seen as
a tactical decision. Now, I’m not the only person
who’ll advocate this strategy. My friend, Cal Newport, who’s
a computer science professor and the author of several books, included this advice near
the start of his book, “How to Win at College”, which I actually used
as a high school student in preparation for my
own college experience. As he interviewed top students from all around the
country for his book, he realized that one
of the main strategies they used to stay on
top of their classes was creating a schedule that
they felt in control of. Careful course selection
is one of the best tools for retaining that control. And dropping classes is a
part of that course selection process that you should
be taking advantage of. (bright techno music) Hey guys, thanks so much
for watching my video on why you should drop classes. If you wanna get new
videos every single week on being a more
effective student, you can click that big red
subscribe button right there. You can also get a
free copy of my book on earning better grades by
clicking the book’s picture. And that also comes with
a copy of my graduation planning spreadsheet,
like I mentioned earlier. So if you wanna get
that, click the picture and I will send you both. If you wanna see the companion
blog post for this episode, or read Cal’s thoughts
on this exact same topic then you click the orange logo and head over to my website. If you missed last week’s video, we talked about how
to avoid burnout as a student, or deal with it
if you’re already feeling it. And also, if you’d like
to connect with me, ask questions, or get feedback, you can follow me on
Twitter @TomFrankly, or leave a comment below. Thanks for watching. (bright techno music)