Why withdraw?

Thomas Mitchell (C'17) discusses key points to consider when choosing to withdraw from a course.

When a course is going particularly poorly, it is wise to consider withdrawing (be sure to keep track of the deadline to do so). Although the decision to withdraw should not be taken lightly, it may be appropriate in some circumstances. Here are some thoughts and tips regarding the process:

  • Before taking any actions, speak at length with your dean, professor, and other advisors about withdrawing from a course. As is often the case in life, second opinions are essential to form an informed decision.


  • Seriously consider withdrawing from a class if it is mathematically probable that you will not pass the course. To make this judgment, consult your syllabus and assess your present standing in the class with your graded midterms and assignments.


  • Contemplate withdrawal if a single course is adversely affecting your mental health. Understandably, poor performance in a single class can stress students out to the point where their performance in other classes may suffer as well. Since the semester will only intensify as finals approach, it may be a tactical decision to lighten the load such that you can focus on succeeding in your remaining classes.

Finally, do not feel like a failure if you are forced to withdraw from a course. College is notoriously challenging at times, and life is often unfair. While you should not make withdrawing from your courses a regular habit, the decision to withdraw once or twice is not going to severely mar your transcript. Indeed, over the course of four years, a well-thought-out withdrawal might be among the wisest academic decisions you can make.

Best of luck!

—Thomas Mitchell (C’17)

Thomas Mitchell is a junior from Merrimac, Massachusetts majoring in neurobiology and minoring in science, technology, and international affairs (STIA). He is a Georgetown College peer advisor.