Opinion: Don’t feel guilty about withdrawing from a class

Gracie Wise

I never thought about withdrawing from a class all my life. Other kids were taking five classes or more and didn’t seem stressed or anxious about it. If I could tackle five to six classes in high school, then why shouldn’t I be able to tackle fifteen credit hours in college?

When I was still in high school, I remember hearing horror stories from close friends and family about how agonizing their workload was.

“They’re probably overreacting,” I told myself. I knew I was going to be stressed in college — let’s be real, you’re gonna be stressed regardless — but hey, it couldn’t be as bad as it seemed, right?

Sure enough, there were days and nights where I was up past midnight, super stressed about a paper, test and reading assignment done all in one night. Regardless, I finished freshman year with a high GPA and 30 college credits.

I considered withdrawing maybe once or twice whenever I thought I made a bad grade on a test or paper, but I toughened up and hoped for the best –– only to find I was making a mountain out of an molehill.

Summer flew by and I was a sophomore taking five classes plus an internship class last semester, adding up to a total of 16 credit hours. Things were going pretty well. I thought managing my school, social and personal life would be easy peasy lemon squeezy. Two or three weeks later, things got pretty messy.

Needless to say, I ended up at the University Counseling Center in tears. I just wanted to enjoy my life in college while keeping up with a hectic schedule. Trying to balance my grades, social life, hobbies and well-being wasn’t easy, and I was utterly miserable.

Withdrawing from a class wasn’t what I had in mind, but when I talked to my counselor, she suggested I withdraw from a class I was currently taking and retake it in the spring. Heck, even my student advisor thought it was a good idea. I was hesitant at first, but I trusted my gut and withdrew.

I felt all kinds of emotions that day. A part of me felt this surge of relief as if a heavy weight fell off my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe again. Simultaneously, I felt like there was a black rain cloud hovering over my head.

“Did I make the right choice,” I thought. “Am I setting myself up for failure?” My guilt was telling me that I let my parents and professors down. I’d end up working at McDonald’s and all that jazz.

A week passed and I immediately felt at peace. I felt like I could finally manage my workload while going to clubs, keeping in touch with my friends and having more time for my special interests like reading for fun, writing/creating my own characters, drawing and playing Nintendo. I realized it wasn’t healthy to confine myself in my room or the third floor of the library doing the same thing without a brain break. While getting good grades was obviously a no-brainer, I needed to take some time to walk away and smell the roses.

I am now taking four classes. I still struggle with stress and sometimes balancing my personal life with school, but I’m happy with my schedule and that’s all that matters.

Some people might say that students need to suck it up and get it over with. Others might say that you’re doing well in a class and that there’s no reason to call it quits.

In no way, shape or form am I encouraging everyone to withdraw from a class because they don’t feel like showing up to class or doing whatever they need to get done. If you can handle 21 credits, that’s fine. If you can handle 12 credits, that’s fine, too. Hard work and a decent GPA might be your ticket to getting your degree, but so is taking a breather.

If you find yourself doing more than the bare minimum and feel like your head’s going to explode, it’s time to make serious adjustments to your schedule. Talk to your advisor and a counselor at the counseling center before withdrawing a class. They’ll give you advice on how to manage your time wisely and strike that balance.

But if you’ve already tried that out and still find yourself in a rut, then maybe it’s time to withdraw. Talk to an advisor and counselor and ask for their opinion. Don’t withdraw from classes that are vitally important for your major/minor or enjoy taking, and don’t do it to the point where you’re taking below twelve credits. Sometimes, students withdraw a class that they’re struggling in. Others may need to withdraw if it’s hurting their mental health.

If you decide not to withdraw, find a plan that works for you. But if withdrawing that one class guarantees you better grades and a happier lifestyle, by all means do it, and don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed for putting yourself first.