Dropping a Class Isn’t a Failure. It’s a Tactical Decision.

In our wide world there exists a variety of objects that generally should not be dropped. Bowling balls, containers of pure sodium, that kind of thing.

However, there are also many things that you should drop, such as fire ants. And “the subject”, when your uncle Gary brings up politics at Thanksgiving. And also… classes.

In last week’s video on how to deal with burnout as a student, we looked at some research which revealed that academic overload is the most common cause of long-term student stress – and that’s why in this one, I want to argue that it’s definitely ok to drop classes.

Many students view dropping a class as tantamount to flat-out failing that class, and I understand their reasoning. We have ideals that tell us to stick with our commitments – to follow through. Those that persevere through adversity will succeed, while those that give up partway through are doomed to a life of regret and a distinct lack of sports car purchases.

Let’s dispense with the inspiring platitudes here, though. Yes, perseverance is a virtue worth cultivating, and yes, in general, you should approach each of the things you commit to with the intention of seeing them through.

But there’s an element of tactical decision-making to be injected here, especially with respect to your class schedule. This is because many ambitious students tend to over-commit when they’re signing up for classes.

I’ve been in the same position you’ve probably found yourself in; it’s time to sign up, and you’ve found a ton of courses in the course catalog that sound really interesting. You’re thinking about the start of the next semester, and since you associate the start of every semester with ideas of fresh beginnings and full stocks of willpower, you feel like you can take on a ton of classes.

So, say you’ve fallen victim to this line of thinking, and now you’re realizing that the workload you’ve signed yourself up for is just too much. The solution is simple: Drop a class.

Check out the video to find out why doing so can be an effective strategy for managing your schedule, and why it’s unlikely to affect you negatively.

If you’re unable to see the video above, you can view it on YouTube.

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  • Defeating procrastination
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Video Notes

Dropping a class isn't a failure. It's a tactical decision.

Here’s a Pinterest-worthy image for sharing this video 🙂

Have you dropped classes before? What were your reasons?

If you liked this video, subscribe on YouTube to stay updated and get notified when new ones are out!

Thomas Frank is the geek behind College Info Geek. After paying off $14K in student loans before graduating, landing jobs and internships, starting a successful business, and travelling the globe, he's now on a mission to help you build a remarkable college experience as well. Get the Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram

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  1. hey! Do you have full access to the article “precursors to college students burn out”. It would be great if you can share it with me.

    Juan Sebastian

  2. Agreed! Sometimes dropping a class isn’t the only thing that helps though. Sometimes college students take too much on their plate in terms of clubs, rushing for fraternities, working out, and trying to socialize. Dropping some of the other things help too!

  3. I am currently a University student who just recently started reading your blog and watching your youtube videos. I must say that I have found them immensely helpful. The way you give advice to students is practical and engaging. Thank you so much for taking the time to help create these resources for us! It really has helped me become more organized. I really appreciate it.

  4. Hello,

    I’ve recently discovered your website and love it. I work in higher education and am considering starting a business and/or nonprofit related to some of the very themes you often write about. I’m impressed with what’s here. I’d even love to work together at some point.

    That being said, there’s something worth mentioning to your readers. For students who receive financial aid – dropping classes – can negatively impact the aid they receive. There’s something called a pass percentage. And unfortunately, many colleges count all the courses you initially start. If you drop too many courses (even for medical withdrawals), you can be put on academic probation. Sometimes you have to appeal to even continue getting aid. While many students could argue they were being smart and strategic about time and schedule as you suggest here, it’s an unnecessary burden for some students to go through.

    Now, if someone just drops one or two courses – this financial aid rule won’t be triggered. But, if they have failed a few courses and then dropped some – they could be hit with insufficient academic progress. For the student who does well academically and just decides to drop one or two courses over his/her college career, this won’t matter. But, for some students, this will.


    • Paul,

      Thanks so much for pointing this out! I actually wasn’t aware of it, so I’ll add an annotation to the video.

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