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Adding/Dropping College Classes: How To Know If It's Right For You

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Adding Dropping Classes Add Drop Period in College Is It Right for You? The add-drop period has always been a saving grace for me. It is usually a week long, occurs at the beginning of the semester, and gives me the freedom to move in and out of college classes without penalty. The system offers me peace of mind. I can try out all my classes, safe with the knowledge that if the classes don't work out, I can drop them or switch to another class.

Most college professors keep add-drop in mind when they assign work. There might not be as much work assigned during the first week to make it easier for students who add the class to catch up. But, don't think your professor won't come down on you hard if you sign up for her class before the first week, don't hand in the work thinking you will just drop out, and then end up keeping the class in your schedule.

How do you know if you should drop a class? Here are a few reasons you might consider dropping a class to find one that better fits your goals.

1. I went to a college with very small classes, usually five to 10 students per class. When my professor and I didn't click, I always considered dropping the class. Small class sizes mean a lot of face time for you and your professor. If you aren't on the same wavelength, that time could be excruciating, not only for you as a student attempting to graduate, but for your professor, who has other students to consider. If you have the freedom, it's best to find classes where you and your professor mesh well. In larger classes with more than 50 students, getting along with the professor is not likely to be as important.

2. If you pick an elective class because it sounds interesting but find yourself unable to concentrate, you may want to drop the class. Electives are often required to complete the necessary hours for graduation, but an elective that you don't enjoy isn't of much use to you. My art elective was interesting, but required four straight hours in the classroom because the class only took place once a week. I found myself unable to stay focused for such a long time and decided to attempt a different class entirely.

3. In my sophomore year, my schedule looked like this: five classes, an internship, and a part-time job. My workload was too heavy, and it was taking a toll on my schoolwork, my job, and my sleep schedule. If there's too much on your plate, it may be helpful to drop a class. Overworking yourself doesn't help anything.

Should I add a class?

If a spot frees up in a class you are interested in, go ahead and add it. Adding a class at the end of the week often means taking a sort of gamble. You might be stuck with a class you don't like for the rest of the semester.

One concern that students often have about dropping a class is losing money on the textbooks they purchased. Fortunately, textbook websites generally create their return policies around the add-drop period., for example, has a 30-day return policy that gives you the freedom to focus on classes without worrying about that textbook you already bought.

While add-drop gives students the freedom to experiment with classes, it does require a great deal of responsibility and level-headedness. Attend all the classes on your schedule at least once, even if you are 99 percent sure you want to drop one of them. There is always that 1 percent that could change things. Use this period wisely, and above all, make sure the college classes you choose are right for you.

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This article originally ran 10/1/2013.