Many pre-health applicants regret overlooking drop/add class deadlines. You might feel that it’s better to be resilient and complete a course despite how much you may struggle.  If you feel uncomfortable with the pace of a class, inadequate when it comes to being ready for the class, or have second thoughts about taking the class, it is always best to find a way to leave the class and try again when you are better prepared.

At every freshman orientation, advisors emphasize that dropping a class before the deadline is the easiest way to remove yourself from a class without it being documented on a transcript.  It is important to drop the class early and understand the process or else you will be charged for taking the course – both financially and on your GPA.

While it is better to drop a class before the deadline, many applicants find that they need to withdraw from the class after the deadline.  You will need to work with your academic advisors to go through the process, but the registrar and the transcript will record the course grade as being a “withdrawal.”  Admissions screeners become very concerned about applicants who frequently withdraw from classes as documented on the transcript. While withdrawals are not calculated in GPA’s, many admissions committee members will consider a withdrawal as equivalent to a failing grade.

With COVID-19’s impact over the last year, many students felt they needed to endure challenges with online coursework and physically-distanced socializing while keeping their health safe, taking less than ideal course grades in order to keep their applications on track.   However, you may be worried that the grades you earned over the past year may not reflect your true academic potential had COVID-19 not occurred.

Many schools have developed policies regarding “retroactive withdrawal” of the previous semester’s courses, especially if the circumstances are linked to sickness related to COVID-19 or a disability that was diagnosed while classes were ongoing.  Most requests for retroactive withdrawal require careful documentation of any illness or injury while still enrolled as a student. There is no guarantee that a semester withdrawal will be granted.

If your previous semester was adversely affected by COVID-19 hospitalization (your own or a close family member’s), look at your university student handbook or contact your academic advisor about requesting a retroactive semester withdrawal, and take some time before deciding to apply this spring.

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