Should You Withdraw Or Fail A Class? Alumni’s Opinion


Last Updated on May 17, 2021 by David Shaw

withdraw or fail

Are you by any chance on the verge of failing a class and finding a hard time keeping up? Maintaining good standing in your academic journey can sometimes have hiccups and everyone should expect unprecedented circumstances. Here’s a helpful guide on what to do if you’re facing difficulting keeping up with class materials and making a tough choice.

Should you withdraw from a class or fail the subject as the last resort? As a general rule of thumb, you should always prioritize withdrawing a class instead of failing it under most circumstances. Failing a class will directly hurt your transcript, whereas withdrawing from a class will serve you better options that otherwise directly impact your GPA.

There can be a huge difference and impact between the choice of withdrawal or failing a class. It is important to know when should you choose one over the other to avoid impacting your academic transcript or application when applying or transferring to other universities.

If Your Chances of Failing Is High

If you are still above the failing grade percentile yet have less confidence in passing the class moving forward, there are still ways to prevent getting a D or below.

  • Talk To Your Professor
talk to professor

Let your professor know why you are failing or struggling. Talk to your professor in their next office hour and talk about your struggles in their class materials and get feedback on what to improve on.

Oftentimes, your professor will be willing to understand and empathize with your situation by making you an offer to pass the class. More often than not, the last things most professor wants is to fail a student, whether students deserve than not. This method can be a lifesaver for your grades if you choose not to withdraw under special circumstances.

  • Reorient Your Schedules And Prioritize Revision Time

Are you genuinely facing personal difficulties keeping up with class materials or are you not putting in the effort and hours? Are you not studying effectively or faced with a constant source of distraction while studying?

Reevaluate and list the activities and time you spent doing them daily during the semester, list them down along with the hours you spent on the unnecessary tasks. If you see too many activities related to your hobbies or using your technology devices, you should probably limit the time you spend on these activities and more on your revision sessions.

A proper and effective revision session doesn’t have to be long and should only take up to 2 hours if you do it correctly.

To learn more about effective studying skills that are easy and less time consuming, here’s a helpful article for studying skills that top students practice.

Will Class Repetition Impact Your Transcript?

The next question you might ask be asking is the following- will class repetition impact your transcript? The short answer is no. Just like we said not everyone’s academic journey will always be a smooth ride, institutions or admission counselors reviewing your transcripts probably won’t mind your class repetition records as long as you provide a valid and honest explanation.

  • What To Do Differently
  1. Identify the subjects that are difficult for you at the start of taking a repeated class.
  2. Review the materials before your lecturer covers them in class.
  3. Ask more questions and don’t let hard topics intimidate you.
  4. Practicing is the best strategy, no one will help you learn better than practicing questions yourself.

What If Withdrawal Deadline Has Passed?

If withdrawal options for deadlines have passed, your best option to avoid failing is to visit your professor during their office hours to discuss a resolution.

This is virtually the only way to help you pass the class, other than that you should shift all your focus and more time into scoring well on the Finals paper. On certain circumstances depending on your professor, they can offer to let you pass their class if you performed well on the Finals paper as it constitutes the highest percentage of your grade with cumulative testing of your class materials understanding.

Doing well on the Finals paper indicates and tells your professor you’ve grasped a solid knowledge of concepts and knowledge of the class materials by the end of the semester.

Helpful Note: If you did well for the Finals, you reserve the right to leverage your accomplishment to request for your professor to let you pass the class regardless if you have a failing grade.

Tips To Avert A Failing Grade

  • Visit The Tutoring Center
tutoring center

Your university or college will likely have a tutoring center filled with people who are familiar with the subjects you need help with. If you don’t prefer this method, ask around your classmates or social media for willing tutors and chances are they will always be a kind individual willing to help you out.

  • Self-Evaluate What You’ve Did Wrong
self evaluation

There is always a core issue with one’s personal schedule when their grades are not working fine. I personally struggled with a C++ Programming class not because I was not paying attention in class, but rather stuck on one particular topic that put off my grades for that class. I was late to find help proactively and I was too late to secure a satisfactory grade in the end, causing me to learn lessons the hard way.

  • Keep A Watchlist Of All Your Weak Topics And Start Studying

It can be stressful to know you have more difficult topics or chapters ahead to learn when you just finished revising one. What I find helpful instead all the time is making a list of the difficult topics I find hard to understand and work my way down. That way, there is a sense of accomplishment and a convenient list to more easily keep track of progress.

  • Ace The Finals Exam

Many people tend to overlook the significance of what your Finals exams mean and what it can do. If you put in the final efforts and sacrifice your time to ace the finals exam, there is a very high chance you can pass the class given the high percentage of grades that it covers in the syllabus. If you think you can do well on the finals, talk to your professor to see if they will allow you to pass the class if you do well on the finals regardless of your score, and you can be confident your professor will accept your request if the Finals materials are cumulative.

Final Take

You probably are in a distraught mental preparedness if you’re currently experiencing this issue. The goal is to stay positive and be confident in yourself of what you can achieve if you set clear goals and give yourself another chance.

dream big

Failing a class will not end your academic career or stop you from entering your dream schools. Some people learn important life lessons only after a hard fall from their academic journey and get back up harder and motivated than ever. There is always something positive to learn from a distressing experience, and who knows it could be yours?

Now stop worrying about it, start doing something about it instead from what you’ve learned in this article!

David Shaw

I enjoy blogging about the college experience, teaching people how to navigate and hack their way through college. I also enjoy promoting financial literacy among young individuals.

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