MIT: Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyClass of 2017

Right Now This Term: To Drop or Not: If You're Still Struggling

If you receive multiple Fifth Week Flags, you may have difficulty keeping on top of all of your subjects and may start thinking about whether or not to drop a class.

Assess Your Situation

Think carefully about your performance in ALL your classes. It will benefit you far more to put positive energy into passing 3 subjects than to put all your effort into the problem and wind up failing one or more of your classes.

  • Are you struggling in more than one class? How far behind are you in the class(es)? Are you borderline or 'way behind? Sometimes a borderline situation in one class can be brought up to a pass with just a bit more effort and some help from a tutor, review sessions, office hours with the TA, etc.
  • How much time are you spending on the problem subject?(s) Are you spending so much time in the one subject that you're putting your other subjects in jeopardy?
  • Are you behind because of lack of effort put into the class, or because you really don't understand the material? Have you been going to class, attending recitations? If you've got so much work to make up, you need to really think about whether it's worth it and what effect doing so will have on your other subjects,
  • What does your TA or instructor have to say about your performance so far?

Should You Drop a Subject?

Drop Date is Thursday, April 24, ten weeks into the term.

The most important thing in making your decision about dropping a class is to think about the big picture of your overall performance and the amount of time and effort it will take to bring you up to passing standard.

This may be easier to do if you're having problems in only one of your subjects. However, if you're struggling in more than one class, you need to realistically, and honestly, assess your situation.

When Should You Drop?

Sometimes freshmen on ABC/No Record grading think that it does not matter whether or not they fail a subject, since D and F grades do not factor into their GPA. However, if it's very clear that you're failing a class and that you are also losing ground in your other subjects, you should drop the class, rather than hanging on to the bitter end. This will free up more time to really focus on doing well in your other classes.

If You Are on Academic Warning from Fall Term

The decision about whether or not to drop a subject is especially important if you are currently on Academic Warning. It is very important that you pass at least three full subjects this semester to avoid further action by the CAP (Committee on Academic Performance).

If you are struggling and in danger of failing not just one, but perhaps two or three subjects, dropping the subject you're least likely to pass can be a sound strategy, to give you time to focus on passing your other subjects. Be sure to talk with your advisor about your plans.

Important re: Dropping a CI-H Subject

If you are required this term to take a CI-H in order to fulfill the Communication Requirement, please note that there are serious consequences to dropping the class.

Any freshman who drops or fails a required CI-H subject in the Spring Term will be placed on automatic Warning by the Committee on Academic Performance for the upcoming Fall Term. Warning imposes a credit limit and has other restrictions.

Access Helping Resources

Making the decision to drop a subject in which you're struggling is not easy. Don't make the decision on your own. Get good advice from the right people!

  • Talk it over with your advisor and associate advisor.
  • Dean Donna Friedman and staff in UAAP are available to discuss your options.
  • If your academic struggling reflects personal problems or other extenuating circumstances, we urge you to contact Student Support Services (S3).
  • Also consult the Resources page of this website: there are many people and offices eager to help you succeed at MIT no matter what obstacles you face.

See the Registrar's Add/Drop page for the mechanics of dropping a subject. The absolute deadline is Drop Date, Thursday, April 24.