After so much internal debate with yourself, you have at last come to the decision to drop a class this semester. Or, if you have already missed the add/drop window for classes (usually within the first few weeks into the semester), you have given yourself no choice but to withdraw from that class, and that would mean dropping the class after the window's end, giving you a W on your transcript.
While it is fine to have only a few Ws (at most) on your transcript, withdrawing from classes is not recommended but only so dire if you have more than a few on record, so try to steer clear from this option and think through your classes while the window to drop is still open. Whichever option applies to you at the moment, whether you have thought this through a lot or not at all, these are 10 questions that you should consider while making this small yet still irreversible leap.
1. Is this a required class for my major(s)/minor(s)/GED?
This should be the first thing you immediately think of before clicking that drop button. By the time we college students graduate, we need to have all of our required classes taken and passed accordingly. Whichever major(s) and minor(s) you decide to take on are totally up to you. However, the nonnegotiable general education requisites are what all students have to fulfill, starting from the moment they set foot on campus. This is the easiest question to answer but as a follow-up…
2. If it is, can it be replaced with another class that fits the criteria?
If it's a gen ed, then any class that fits any of the listed criteria the curriculum calls for will do to replace what this class was originally meant for. However, the same can't necessarily be said for all of the classes falling under your chosen major(s) or minor(s) as there are specific classes that are required to be taken and passed, no questions asked.
If you want to get done with your desired major(s) and minor(s) as soon as possible, these classes (and only these classes) have to be taken. If you do decide to drop one of these with the intention to go back to it at a later time, then there is no harm in doing so, but for withdrawal, well... it could get messy. If the latter is the case for you, then try to stick it out to avoid any complications.
3. Would I have enough credits this semester if I'm enrolled full-/part-time?
This is another important thing to consider. If you're enrolled full-time, then you should be taking at least 12 credits, and for part-time, the credit count is lower by a few credits. If you started out with 15-16 and are dropping a three-credit class, that would leave you with 12-13 credits left for the semester. However, if you started out with 12-13, then two options: if you're dropping early on, you'd better have another class lined up for that empty spot, which shouldn't be too much of a problem (I'll get to that later); if you're withdrawing almost halfway into the semester, then I'd hold on to it!
4. Is this class giving me an unnecessary amount of stress?
Before anything else (basically your bae), you need to put yourself and your health first and foremost. If you constantly get overwhelmed over the workload you're given up to a few times a week, work that you don't bring yourself to doing, then this is something to come to the professor about, or at least someone in your life you can talk to and who you know will listen to you. If you still can't bear all of this work, then I think you have your answer.
5. Would there be any potential backlash?
Let's say that you go through with this. What would the potential fallout be? Maybe seeing the professor of this class on a regular basis? I know that would be awkward. Or maybe the recently assigned homework left undone? That one I'm going to leave up to you. If you feel you can provide a little bit of closure on either of these, if that's as bad the fallout is going to be, then that would be highly encouraged, but no one would blame you if you don't. But if the backlash is a lot worse, then try to avoid getting to that point as much as possible.
6. Is this something I can talk to the professor about?
Usually, the first impression of the professor is the deciding factor for whether or not you should bail on a class: their overall demeanor, their expectations, their likeability, and/or other things that may set them apart from other professors that you may deem acceptable. If you're lucky to have a professor who is (at the very least) approachable enough to go to if you have any doubts of seeing the class through, any trouble with the workload, or any questions about how the class is handled, then take advantage of those office hours and see if you could try to make it work with some help from the one teaching said class! If you're not as lucky though, the choice is out there…
7. How much enjoyment am I getting of it (so far)?
While the first thing you should ask yourself is the key question stated in number one, this is usually the first thing that any college student would think of and is typically the main, if not only, reason to let the class go. However, this is not a bad thing: the amount of enjoyment you get from a class should be important for all classes.
Granted, not all classes are going to be enjoyable from the very start, but then again, see if you can get some out of it, maybe by talking to your professor about making it more fun but also creating engaging ways to do the homework, adding to the class discussion, coming up with interesting questions about certain topics that you may like, etc.
8. Is the homework worth it?
If you're overloaded then seek the necessary resources out there for you to relieve yourself, but if it's just homework you don't feel like doing, like if it's the last thing you'd want to be doing as you try to do everything else before it, then try to make it fun. However, if it is a lost cause, then why bog yourself down with probably meaningless work on your already filled plate?
9. Is there another class still open that I'd rather be in than this one?
Ah, yes. The old switcheroo. I'm sure we've all had our eyes on certain classes we, in our hearts, know we can't have if we're already committed to others. And no, it's really a coincidence that this sounds like a typical cause for a potential break-up in a relationship. If that makes it easier for you to make the decision, then treat it like one: if you think you'd feel happier with that special class than with the one you're already with, then just let this class down gently and chase after the one you want!
10. Do I see myself benefiting from this class?
This is by far the most loaded one because it's the one that makes the most sense (aside from one through four). Whatever your initial intentions were when you signed up for the class, see if they still apply now. If you don't see yourself getting something out of the class that could somehow help you, then it only serves as dead weight on your transcript, regardless of the grade.
It's your call on what you should do next. Remember: while withdrawing from a class requires more thought into it and should be used sparingly, whether you're dropping or withdrawing, always think about what you're going to lose, but if the losses don't outweigh the gains you can get from it, then you know what to do.