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The First Year at MIT

Advising Right Now: To Drop a Subject or Not? Helping the Student Make the Decision

Have your advisees taken on more than they might be able to successfully manage this semester? It is easy for second term freshmen to become overwhelmed. Spring term often proves to be more challenging than expected, especially if the student has not developed good study habits and strong time management skills. Freshmen tend to be more ambitious in the spring by exploring options and taking risks. Classes now cover brand-new material. Many freshmen are taking on a UROP, or a leadership position in their living group or club, and/or participating in a varsity sport for the first time.

So, if someone is feeling inundated, here are some important things for you and your advisee to consider in making the decision to drop a class or not:

When to Make the Decision to Drop

Drop Date is Thursday, April 23, ten weeks into the term.

It is important to encourage anyone who is thinking about dropping a class to do so well before this tenth week deadline. Waiting until the semester is nearly over may mean that the student winds up failing not only the class in question but possibly also bringing down his/her performance in other subjects.

  1. What is the "Big Picture"?: Review the student's performance in all subjects, not just the class in question, so that you and s/he are clear on the overall situation.
  2. How many subjects is the student struggling in? Help the student to determine what the situation is in each class, with input from the faculty or TA for each subject. While the TA or instructor for the class may be a good source of how a student is doing in the class in question, the TA will not have the broad perspective of how your advisee is doing overall in his/her other classes.

Assessing the pros and cons of keeping or dropping a subject.

Some issues to consider:

If you or your advisee needs help with thinking through this decision, some helpful resources include the Instructor or TA teaching the subject in question; your associate advisor; your UAAP Advising Consultant or Dean Elizabeth Young in UAAP, x3-6786.