To Drop or Not to Drop

5 steps you can take to avoid disappointment

choosing between adding and dropping a course

Whether or not you should drop a course is a personal choice, with many things to consider. It’s about finding that balance between what will serve you best now and what will support your future goals. Take some time, do your research, and look at the bigger picture to determine which option is best for you. And remember, you must drop a course before the deadline to avoid academic penalty.

Our counsellors are available through our Help Portal to discuss anything related to academic standing, academic probation, as well as any extenuating circumstances that may be influencing your decision.

Step 1: Know your dates and deadlines! 

Step 2: Review your program/module requirements.

  1. Is this course a prerequisite for something you want to take next year? Fill out a program checklist to see if and/or how dropping the course may affect your future terms.

Step 3: Confirm if dropping a course will change your academic status and what that means for you.

  1. Will dropping this course bring you below a 60% course load? If so, this could have consequences for your student financing, e.g. OSAP. Also, some scholarship programs have a minimum course load requirement. Contact Student Finances to educate yourself on how a change in status may also change your financial situation.
  2. Are you an International Student? Changes in your academic course load may have implications for your Student Visa. We recommend you check in with International Student Advising Services before making any final decisions.
  3. Do you live on campus? You must be enrolled full-time to remain in residence.
  4. Do you play a varsity sport? If so, confirm your course load requirements with Bonnie Cooper at before making a decision. Depending on your sport, dropping a course could result in forfeiting a game.
  5. Are you trying to maintain your eligibility for one of the Scholars Programs? Both Western Scholars and Scholar's Electives need to be enrolled in 5.0 courses. 

Step 4: Consider the grade you expect to receive in this course. Evaluate whether or not the grade will negatively impact your average, academic goals and future options.

  1. Are you at risk of failing the course or will your average drop below what you need to progress into the program you want? For instance, a failure will prevent you from progressing into an honours program the following year. Go back to your checklist and module progression requirements to know for sure.
  2. Are you on probation? Students on probation must maintain an average of 60% with no failures.
  3. Are you planning on going to graduate school or into a professional program? How will your decision affect your transcript and your eligibility for the program? This is something that you will need to confirm with the school and/or program you hope to attend.
  4. Is it a priority for you to graduate on the Dean's Honour List? If so, make sure you check the Dean's Honour List Requirements.

Step 5: Explore your options.

  1. Let your course instructor know you if you are having difficulty in the course and consider booking an appointment with a Learning Strategist.
  2. Sometimes reducing a course load can give you the time you need to improve your grades. Is it an option to pick up the course during the summer term, or the following year?
  3. Is this a required course for you to graduate? If not, maybe you will benefit from taking something different that is better aligned with your skills and abilities.

Try not to isolate yourself if you are struggling. There are many supports available to help you succeed, but it is also important to be realistic about your workload as it relates to your life and circumstance. There are no short cuts to getting your degree. It takes time and hard work. If you are getting more out of your courses with a reduced course load, that may be the best path for you. Time management and balancing expectations are important skills to develop now so that you will continue to succeed in the years ahead.

Courses may be added and/or dropped through your Student Center up until the term or sessional deadline. If the deadline has passed, dropping is still an option, but with an academic penalty applied. In this case, the course will be recorded as an “F” on your transcript, and calculated as a 40% in your cumulative and term average. If the deadline has passed, please plan to discuss by connecting with one of our counsellors through the Help Portal before making a final decision to weigh all options. 

Whatever you decide, don’t be discouraged. Learning is a process that unfolds over a lifetime. We are here to support you along the way.