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Do you know what the financial or academic penalty is for exiting an undergraduate course one week, six weeks, or twelve weeks after its start date? Whatever the answer, it is important for you to understand the positive and negative consequences of dropping a course. Drop dates are one of the most overlooked aspects of university life. They are prominently displayed on school calendars and websites, but at the same time, dropping a course is often stigmatized and the reasons to do so are poorly understood. Before you head to university, there are a few things regarding drop dates that you should consider.

There are Many Reasons to Drop a Course

On some occasions, a course may not go as you expected. The content may be different than what you originally thought; the professor may not be engaging; maybe you missed the mark on the first few assignments and you’re in a position where you can’t lift your grades to the level that you expect; or, life (job, family, health, etc) and school intersect in disruptive ways. In this position, it is justified to consider the financial and economic consequences of dropping a course versus the long-term effect of a grade remaining on your academic record.

Of course, there is something to be said for perseverance. As someone who values education immensely, I think that sometimes there is too much emphasis on grades. In fact, I have heard many tell me that some of their best learning experiences occurred in a course where they didn’t get a strong mark. However, my point is that drop dates can and should be used pragmatically, particularly if you need a strong GPA for law school, teachers college, medical school, and so on.

Dropping a Course Does Not Equate to Failure

Dropping a course should not be viewed as a failure. Too often, it is perceived this way. For students who have the goal of finishing their undergraduate degree in the best possible academic standing, focus should remain on this long-term goal. Again, students need to be mindful of all the implications that come with dropping a course, but also of what they wish to do with their undergraduate degree. Exiting a course that is uninteresting or unnecessary for a student can make   sense when considered in a broader picture.

Education is about enlightenment and discovery. Uncovering new thoughts and ideas can be emancipating. However, there are also practical considerations and consequences to academic performance and grades. For better or worse, grades matter and they are often tied to future opportunities. For this reason, you should understand the importance of drop dates and how they can be managed to meet your long-term goals.