At some point, every student has a difficult course. Struggling in a class can be attributed to various reasons including the difficulty of the material, a heavy workload, or personal complications. When faced with this situation, a common dilemma arises: Should one drop a class or fail? 

This issue is thoroughly examined in this guide with helpful recommendations for making a decision that is crucial to your success as a student.

Understanding the Consequences

Before delving into the decision-making process, let’s first understand the consequences of both options: a student dropping a class and a student failing a class.

Failing a Class

Failing a class means that you did not pass the course and therefore could not comply with the requirements of a program. Usually, this leads to low or fail grades that bring your GPA down. 

Additionally, bad grades may result into academic probation or even dismissal from your institution. Secondly, failing a class can be depressing and affect your self-worth.

Dropping a Class

Dropping refers to the process of withdrawal prior the official drop date. Drop outs are rarely recorded in the transcript, and there are no academia implications. But some institutions will have policies which stipulate how many courses can be dropped without sanctions. 

Financial penalties may arise from this dropping too, such as partial refunds given depending on whether it is before or after the term.

With that in mind, let us look into some important considerations in choosing between the options of withdrawing from a course and flunking.

Image alt text: is it better to drop a class or fail

Author credit: By Riccardo.salvini – Own work, CC BY 4.0,

Factors to Consider

Course Importance

Assess the significance of the course and your academic venture. Have you taken it because it is a mandated course for your major or degree program? Dropping it might set you back on progress because it may be a prerequisite for future classes. 

In such instances, you should consult an academic advisor for other solutions of tutoring and extra support.

Your Effort and Progress

Review the amount of work that you have done for the course and where you stand now. Have you been going to class, finishing projects, and asking people for assistance when necessary? It is advisable to continue with the course only if you think extra effort and commitment can help you turn things around.

  1. Academic Deadlines: Check the academic calendar for your institution’s drop deadlines. It’s crucial to be aware of these dates as they vary from one institution to another. Missing the drop deadline can result in a failing grade on your transcript.
  2. Financial Considerations: Dropping a class may have financial implications, as some institutions provide partial tuition refunds based on when you drop the class. Be sure to understand your institution’s refund policy and consider the impact on your financial aid if applicable.
  3. Long-Term Goals: Think about your long-term academic and career goals. Will failing the class significantly hinder your future prospects? Consider the potential impact on your GPA and overall academic record.
  4. Personal Circumstances: Evaluate your personal circumstances, such as health issues, family emergencies, or other factors that may be affecting your performance. Sometimes, dropping a class is the best choice when dealing with challenging life situations.

The Decision-Making Process

Now that you’ve considered the factors, let’s walk through the decision-making process step by step:
1. Assess Your Situation: Be honest with yourself in appraising your present situation. Is it real struggle or only momentary difficulty? Assess your strengths and weakness in the class, how prepared are you for an exam and whether there are areas you need to improve on.
2. Seek Help: In case you encounter difficulties with the material of the course, do not hesitate to ask for help. You can always seek help from your professor or a tutor. There are a number of institutions that provide academic resources to help students with tough courses.
3. Consider Alternatives: Try to use other options before you make up your mind. Do you possibly drop the class and take it again when prepared for it or take another class, which has the same objectives as yours?
4. Consult Academic Advisors: They help you navigate your academic journey. Meet with an advisor to discuss your options. They can shed light and assist you in taking a wise move.
5. Review Deadlines: Ensure that you watch the drop deadlines. Drop the class before the final date to avoid appearing as having a failing grade in your transcript.
6. Think Long-Term: Think of the eventual effects of your choice. Does it affect your studies towards a degree, any further studies, and future careers? Weigh these factors carefully.
7. Make a Decision: Having taken into account the assessment, consultations, and deliberate thinking, take the right step. Regardless, you either quit the class or remain in it, whole-heartedly.


Deciding to drop a class or fail it is one of the most important decisions which you take during your studies and this can have lifelong consequences. Through assessing your position, seeking assistance, and considering the above aspects, one can reach a viable solution consistent with his/ her aspirations. 

Please note, however, that it is vital to consult with academic advisors and instructors as they are best placed to offer advice specific to your circumstances. At the end of the day, one has to put one’s long-time success and health above academic hardships.