Worth the ‘W’: Beneficial side to dropping some classes

By: Leah Devorak | Layout Editor 

Textbooks are stacked at Illinois Valley Community College. Sometimes, dropping a class is a viable option for students who are stressed, in financial trouble or face a number of other scenarios.

Textbooks are stacked at Illinois Valley Community College. Sometimes, dropping a class is a viable option for students who are stressed, in financial trouble or face a number of other scenarios.

The first time I mentioned dropping a class to someone outside my family, the response was two skeptical, confused and disappointed eyes wondering why a perfectly OK student would suddenly give up. The second time, it was an inquiry into whether I could find a way to pass.

Both were equally demeaning.

I was not giving up, and I was not failing; it baffled me how people could assume such things so easily. There are a million reasons why a student may decide to withdraw from a course, yet the two most negative were assumed first. I wondered why that was.

Maybe it’s the big, fat “W” that withdrawing leaves on transcripts. As Kelci Lynn Lucier, About Education’s college life expert, points out, the “W” will be seen by employers when they review college grades, possibly leading them to hire someone else without one.

This, however, is something no good student would ever risk. So of course the only people withdrawing are either flat-out failing or have no work ethic. They don’t have the room to care about possible unemployment.

But while that may be true for some students, it certainly isn’t the case for all.

When I withdrew, a series of events in my life had led to, among other things, much excess stress and confusion regarding what I wanted as a career. While I wasn’t failing the course and actually really wanted to stay registered, withdrawing was simply the only way to solve my problem. So that’s what I did.

A 2008 study by Los Rios Community College shows even more reasons for withdrawing. Some of the most common are financial hardships, family responsibilities, health problems and excessive workloads.

The first three are all very serious and far out of the student’s control. They take both time and funds away from the student and make continuing education incredibly hard, especially when financial aid cannot be found. So when problems like these arise, sometimes the student simply has no other choice but to let a class or two go.

An excessive workload also justifies dropping, and it does not mean that the student is lazy. If school work becomes so much that walking off a cliff sometimes seems like a better option, then maybe there’s one too many classes being taken.

Granted, there’s a million other factors to keep in mind when withdrawing than just the personal elements. If the class is required for a major or minor, graduation could be delayed if dropped, and an extra cost could be accrued if retaken at a later date. There’s also the risk of falling to part-time status and thus losing the financial aid that comes along with being a full-time student.

Students can also always apply for an “incomplete” instead. This temporarily gives the student an “I” for the class until it can be finished and replaced with a real grade at a later date, whatever that date may be. It still may delay graduation, but at least it doesn’t risk costing extra and won’t leave a permanent mark on transcripts.

For those still wishing to withdraw from a course, though, don’t be intimidated. Even though dropping may be a bit embarrassing as well as bring about some serious (yet temporary) self-hate, in the end, it will be worth it. Don’t let what anyone else thinks – including yourself – get in the way. Health and happiness are most important, and if a class needs to be dropped in order to achieve them, so be it.

As for the big, shining “W” that will be left behind, it can be explained away in a cover letter just as easily as the “F” that would have been received if the class was never let go.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!