How to Know When to Withdraw from a Course

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In my junior year of college, I was required to take a social studies elective. The only one that fit my schedule was a church history class that I struggled to understand. It didn’t help that the instructor was soft-spoken, and the 90-minute class was right after lunch. Looking back, I see that I should have withdrawn from the class.

The course withdrawal deadline is quickly approaching on Sept. 25. How do you make that decision? What should you consider when contemplating withdrawing from a course?

Consider all angles

Would not withdrawing hurt your GPA?

GPA is calculated by dividing the total number of points earned by the number of credits attempted. The points awarded for each letter grade range from 4.0 (A) to 0 (F). Therefore, classes you are struggling in and do not withdraw from do affect your GPA.

Classes you do withdraw from are not calculated in your GPA, but they do show up as a “W” on your transcript. If you withdraw from a course you have a failing grade in after the Sept. 25 deadline, the grade will show as “WF” on your transcript.

Have you withdrawn from a class before?

Having one or two withdrawn classes on your transcript won’t hurt you in the long run, but a large number of them could signal a lack of perseverance to prospective employers. Be careful when deciding to withdraw from a class.

How will you retake the course? Do you need to retake it?

If the course you are withdrawing from is a major course, you will need to retake it. If it is an elective course, you may not need to retake that specific course, but you might be able to take a different course instead to reach 120 credits and qualify to graduate.

Some classes are offered every semester. Others are only offered periodically. Some are offered online. Know when your class is offered again before you decide to withdraw. If you only have one semester’s worth of credits left, but the course isn’t offered again for another year, you may regret withdrawing from it.

Will you lose scholarship credit?

Many scholarships depend on a student taking a specific number of credits each semester. Before making the decision to withdraw from a course, make sure you talk to a financial aid counselor about the impact withdrawing would have on your scholarships.

See Also: ScholarshipUniverse: Asset to Students Seeking Assistance

Will withdrawing from the course impact graduation?

If you are determined to graduate on time, consider whether withdrawing from the class will affect your ability to walk. If you can take the course in the summer or online, your graduation may not be impacted, but if the course is only offered in residence during specific semesters, you may not be able to participate in commencement.

Seek advice

First, ask the advice of those who have more experience. While it’s fine to ask your friends, don’t stop there. They don’t always have the wisdom borne from life experience to give the best advice. So, who should you ask instead?

From your parents

Your parents most likely know your unique situation better than anyone else. They also know you and your abilities. God designed our parents to be our primary counselors, and “a wise son heareth his father’s instruction” (Prov. 13:1).

From your instructor

One of the top reasons students consider withdrawing from a course is because they are struggling with it. Before making the decision to withdraw, talk with the instructor. There may be something you can do to bring up your grade. Let your instructor know that you want to do better. They want you to succeed almost as much as you do.

From your academic advisor

As your parents know you, your academic advisor knows your program and its requirements. They will know when the course will be offered again, if it will be offered online, and if withdrawing will create any repercussions on graduation. They will also be able to offer suggestions to try to improve your grade before you make the final decision to withdraw.

See Also: BJU Offers Academic Coaching

From a financial aid counselor

As mentioned, some scholarships rely on the number of credits a student is taking. If scholarships are a part of your financial aid package, talk to a financial aid counselor before making the decision to withdraw from a course to ensure you don’t lose your funding.


Krystal Allweil

Krystal Allweil is the content marketing specialist for BJU’s marketing department and is the managing editor for BJUtoday.