Living the Life of Add/Drop/Withdraw

Knowing the add/drop/withdraw process can save you a lot of headaches.


Registering for classes can be a pain, especially if the classes you need aren’t available. In many cases, you may be able to get a slot, but it takes some work. Here are a few tips:

  •  Research the classes you need before registration begins. Most schools have the schedule up at least a week or two in advance.
  • Try and register as soon as your date opens to try and get the classes you need.
  • If the class is full, go and speak to the professor. You may be pleasantly surprised.
  • Some classes need prerequisites. Again, go speak to the professor. You may be able to get it waived or take both classes together.
  • You can also change your classes during this time. If you find the same class at a different time that fits your schedule better, this is the time to change it.
  • Many colleges and universities have a cap on the number of credits you can take per semester. While this is standard procedure, it may be possible to get the restriction waived.
  • Be aware of the final regular registration dates, as well as late registration.

Adding and dropping classes | Freshman Fun Box 


Thinking about dropping a class? The first thing you need to do is go to the class and find out more about it. Getting feedback from other students or reading the reviews on a professor may also help. Once you’ve gone to the class, there are a number of reasons why you may feel it’s in your best interest to drop: 

  • You don’t have the book and have fallen behind.
  • The class is very difficult. If you’re feeling this way, speak to the professor first.
  • You failed the first test. You may still be able to redeem yourself.
  • Pay attention to the drop dates. You don’t want to mess up your transcript, or your financial aid.

 If you need the class, make sure it is being offered the next semester. This will give you time to find another professor that may not be as challenging, or get your head in the right place to pass it. 


Withdrawing is different from dropping a class. You will receive a “W” on your transcript and will still be charged for those credits. If you withdraw in time, your GPA will not be affected. There are, however, deadlines that must be met. If you find mid-semester that the class is not working out and you won’t get an acceptable grade, the best alternative would be to withdraw. Make sure you don’t miss the deadline. One or two “W’s” on a transcript isn’t that bad. It becomes questionable when it’s habitual.

Please note: not going to class does not require the professor to automatically withdraw you. This may happen in the beginning of the semester, but after the term has been in progress for some time, it is up to you. If you don’t withdraw, you will probably receive an “F” in the class and on your transcript.

A few suggestions: 

  • Speak to a counselor before withdrawing
  • Make sure your status as a student will not change if you withdraw.
  • Make sure the institution’s policy will allow you to withdraw.


Getting an incomplete in a class is quite different from withdrawing. Incompletes are usually given when a student has gone through something beyond their control, such as a death, illness, etc. An incomplete is given by the professor and the student has a certain length of time to make up the work. This is an agreement between the professor and student, and usually requires paperwork. If you do not make up the work, the incomplete will turn into an “F” on the transcript.

Make sure you understand the differences and use your best judgement when adding, dropping, or withdrawing from a class. Knowing the process and how it affects you helps put your best foot forward.