Weighing the Pros and Cons of Course Withdrawal

by Michele Pavitt

When Mercy Asunkwan withdrew from her SMCC Anatomy and Physiology II course last spring, she felt instantly relieved. Due to her work schedule and the demands of her other courses, she simply couldn’t keep up with the assignments and test prep for the anatomy course.

In hindsight, however, Mercy wishes she had made a different choice and would encourage students to avoid withdrawals whenever possible.

How to Know When to Withdraw From a Course

“At that moment, it was the right decision, but it also has its consequences,” said Mercy, adding that she is now missing a biology prerequisite for a course she would like to take at her new college. “(Students) should try to put more effort in and complete the class – maybe reduce your work (hours) or whatever activities you have to give preference to your studies.”

As Mercy pointed out, a decision on whether to withdraw from a course requires students to weigh the pros and cons. The first step is to set up a time to talk with the instructor of the course. Through that conversation, students can learn about their standing in the class and likelihood of passing the course if they were to put in extra time and take advantage of tutoring. Staff and faculty advisors can also help students weigh their options. (See below for info about contacting the Advising Office.)

Withdrawing from a class and taking a grade of “W” can help students to protect their GPA, since withdrawals do not affect grades. They do, however, count again the completion rate. This is the percentage of course credits successfully completed out of the credits attempted. For example, if a student enrolls in 12 credits one semester and completes 9, they would have a completion rate of 75%.

To be in good academic standing, students must earn at least a 66% completion rate and at least a 2.0 GPA. Students who withdraw from a course are also still financially responsible for the payment of tuition and fees associated with that course, another reason that Mercy tries to avoid withdrawals.

Each semester, she evaluates her schedule and tries to avoid taking on too much. She’s also learned to pay attention to the deadline, usually about a week into the semester, when students can add and drop courses without penalties.

“From the start, just take what you know you can do,” said Mercy. “And decide before the Add/Drop.”

Withdrawing from a Course, at a Glance

Deadline to withdraw from a Fall Course: November 22 at 5 p.m.

Process for Withdrawal: Send an email from your SMCC email account to registration@smccME.edu.

Include the following information:

  • Your full name and student ID number
  • The complete course code and title of the course you would like to withdraw from

How to Learn More: For help with decisions about withdrawing from courses, contact your instructor and also speak with a staff or faculty advisor. You can reach the Advising Office at 207-741-5835 or advising@smccME.edu.