Course Dropping Q&A: To Drop or Not To Drop

As a student myself, I know the sudden panic that creeps in a few weeks into the semester, when all of sudden, you do not want to be in one of the courses you are enrolled in. This can be for a number of reasons, and whether or not you should drop the course becomes a question you ask yourself. 

For example, let’s say you are taking a Statistics course, and it seems like the class is going well for you…that is until the first exam rolls around. After you take the exam, you may not be as confident in your ability to succeed in the course, and start to question whether it is the right fit for you. I faced a similar dilemma and began to consider the possibility of dropping the course. 

Before you make any serious decisions, however, I am here to remind you that you should go over your options and truly think about what it would mean for you to drop the course. So I sat down with our English advisors to get some more information about dropping courses, and whether you should make that decision. 

Question: What should I consider when I start thinking about dropping a course?

Answer: Before immediately drop the course, it would be wise to talk to your professor about your grade or feelings regarding the course. It is possible that you got a better grade on that exam than you thought you did. If you are debating on whether to drop a course because of an issue other than your grade, and there may be other factors hindering your performance in the class, meeting with your professor or advisor would be the best first step. Meet with your advisor to see if the decision to drop the course makes sense for you. It is also important to note that dropping the class is not the end of the world, so if dropping the course is better for you and your situation, then go ahead and drop it, just be aware of drop deadlines so that it does not have a negative impact on your transcript. 

Question: How would dropping a course affect my standing as an undergraduate? (Can I still salvage my grade?)

Answer: It should not have a huge impact on your standing, but you should not immediately resort to dropping the class just because your grade might be lower than you want. Getting a B in just one course will not drastically affect your overall GPA, but if you are still concerned about your success in the class, consider other factors. Ask yourself questions such as: “Can I realistically improve my grade this late into the semester? Will “working harder” actually boost my performance in this course?” It may be an issue with the course’s classroom environment or your attitude towards certain course methods like exams or papers that are affecting your performance. Therefore, it is important to keep a realistic mindset when considering whether or not to drop the course. 

Question:  What if the course I want to drop is a required course within my degree?

Answer: First, check to see if this specific course is a requirement, or whether or not you can take a different course within the same category that is able to satisfy the same requirement. Make sure you have the time and room within your future semester schedules to be able to take the course again, but if as an upperclassman, you may not have another opportunity. However, in a pass-fail situation, failing the class may not be your best option either. If you are not going to fail, just push through it. Remember, you can’t always get an A. 

Question: If I do drop the class, what happens if I am under 12 credit hours (not full-time)?

Answer: It would be in your best interest to consider enrolling in an 8-week course that takes place in the second half of the semester— if you absolutely could not continue in the other course. This would allow you to stay on track for the number of credits required to graduate. Underloading is not ideal, but sometimes taking an 8-week is not the best thing to do either. They may be harder if the workload is heavy, so consider this before dropping your previous course. 

Question: How would dropping a course affect my financial aid benefits? 

Answer: This would depend on your individual financial aid benefits (grants, scholarships, etc), so keeping in contact with your advisors and the Financial Aid Office is recommended. 

As a final note, the process of deciding whether or not to drop a course is a diagnostic process. It is essential to think about the effects the decision can have, and to consider whether the issue may be a symptom of another factor. The best course of action is to check in with your advisor about the problem. Your reason for dropping the course may be as simple as not liking it, but if it stops you from graduating at your preferred time, then powering through may be the best choice. 

Academic Advisors Q&A: Transfer Students

The following are a few questions new students to the university might have as transfer students, with answers from the English department’s academic advisors.

Question: What if my course credits from previous institutions do not transfer as the course they were listed?

Answer:  Do not ignore it. Meet with your advisor to talk about your first-semester registration at UIUC and describe all your previous courses. Your advisor can help recognize what courses from your previous institution can be given credit as a similar course at the university. Once you recognize what courses can transfer with the proper listing, start the stages of articulation. See if the university’s Office of Admission is willing to give you the credit hours, campus-wide, not just for this department. Pursue the course as credit that can satisfy a requirement for English/Creative Writing majors or minors. You may be required to submit the course syllabi from previous institutions to the Office of Articulation. 

Question: I’m a STEM major, am I able to pursue a minor in English or Creative Writing?

Answer: It is possible. Be sure to verify whether any previous coursework could satisfy some requirements in either minor. Currently, the Creative Writing minor is 18 hours, and the English minor is 21 hours. If some General Education courses could be used to fulfill some requirements of the minor, take courses of that nature. Be sure the minor would not overload you, as you may be required to take more classes than you anticipated to be able to graduate at the time you have previously chosen, especially as a transfer student. However, a minor in our department may help break up the STEM courses of your major, for a more balanced college experience. Look at your own timeline, and keep an eye on the endpoint. 

Question: Am I required to have a concentration as an English major? 

Answer: No, however, if you do not declare it, it is already a general English concentration, instead of a concentration on a specific topic. There are multiple concentrations, but there is one broad one called the “English” concentration. If you started your English degree at an institution before your time here in fall 2019, you have the option to do the old version of the major which is a general English major, rather than the revised version available now.

Question: What resources are available to majors in the department, especially those who are not sure what they want to do with their degree?

Answer: Resources such as the Humanities Professional Resource Center, and the Career Center are available. Make an appointment at the HPRC, and/or meet with your advisor. On a similar note, students can also receive more information about networking, internships, and other career services from the HPRC and their advisors. The department also welcomes any feedback on these topics from transfer students. 

Question: What if I do not feel prepared or ready to take certain courses, for fear of being at a different level in the class than other non-transfer students? 

Answer: It is normal to feel like the range of difficulty or style between courses at this university and your previous institutions are different or discouraging. However, remember that you have already been a successful college student before, and it is okay to feel like you are starting a bit from scratch.

Question: What if I feel like I’m running out of time as a transfer student? In other words, I feel more restricted regarding how I structure my semester schedules because I did not start at the university as a freshman. 

Answer: You can certainly create a flexible and balanced schedule, by including some 1-credit electives that fulfill credit hour requirements, after you complete the requirements of the degree you are pursuing. It is important to recognize your own timeline because not every student is required to remain on the same path. 

For any further questions, do not hesitate to stop by the English Advising Office!

The U of I English/CW Major’s Bucket List

Here are some things every English/CW major should do before graduation. To paraphrase Ferris Bueller, “Four years moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

  1. Take part in a tea ceremony at Japan House.Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (KCPA) Foellinger Great Hall
  2. Attempt something you’re not sure you can do.
  3. Experience a performance in each of the five indoor performance spaces at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Student tickets are never more than $10.
  4. Get a bite to eat at one of the many food trucks on campus.UI President Dr. Hogan & Mrs. Hogan
  5. View an exhibit at the Krannert Art Museum and in the Illini Union Art Gallery.
  6. Be part of the public life of the university by doing something on the Quad outside of Quad Day–a rally, a bake sale, a fundraiser, an informational table.
  7. Attend a live theater event–if not at Krannert, then at the Station Theater in Urbana, or a performance by one of our student groups like the What You Will Shakespeare Company or the Penny Dreadful Players.pennydreadfulplayers
  8. Go to an off-campus cultural festival (Pygmalion, Ebertfest, Boneyard Arts). Festival passes too expensive? They often need volunteers.boneyard arts
  9. Attend a live performance of a style of music you didn’t know existed before you came here.
  10. Make use of the Urbana Free Library or the Champaign Public Library. Both offer quiet study spaces, an escape from campus, performances and talks, and of course, books (particularly books that are unavailable in the university library system or bookstore or books that you just want to read for, you know, fun).
  11. See a movie in a language that you don’t know (and preferably one that’s not French, German, Japanese, Italian, or Spanish).  There are lots of film series and screenings around campus to make this one easy!
  12. Cheer on the Illini at a college sports event. Not a college basketball/football fan? Check out a baseball or volleyball game or a club sport.
  13. Go to a live poetry or fiction reading.
  14. Put in an appearance at the office hours of EVERY professor you have, at least once. Seriously.
  15. ebertfestTake in ANY movie at the glorious Virginia Theater in downtown Champaign or a good movie at the Art Theater. Note that, either way, your concessions help to fund an independent, non-profit endeavor, so think of that large buttered popcorn as a charitable donation.
  16. “I had the feeling that the world was left behind, that we had got over the edge of it, and were outside man’s jurisdiction. I had never before looked up at the sky when there was not a familiar mountain ridge against it. But this was the complete dome of heaven, all there was of it….If we never arrived anywhere, it did not matter. Between that earth and that sky I felt erased, blotted ouprairie skyt. I did not say my prayers that night: here, I felt, what would be would be.” That’s from Willa Cather’s My Antonia. Think “buildings,” not “familiar mountain ridge,” and get far enough out in the country to know what her narrator is talking about.
  17. Take a course on some off-the-wall subject that you knew NOTHING about beforehand.
  18. Write a letter to the editor of the Daily Illini, The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, or your hometown paper, on an issue that mattersAllerton_Summer_2013-117-1-686x456 to you
  19. Become friends with someone that you didn’t think you’d like.
  20. Go to an event at Allerton Park — or just spend an afternoon there.
  21. Put in a request for an early edition of your favorite work of classic literature in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library collection. You’ll get the four-star library experience as it’s brought to you in the glass reading room on a foam cushion with lead weights. The rules may look daunting, but keep in mind that they’re there to keep the books IN, not to keep students OUT.Gov. Pat Quinn listens to Edward Washington, freshman in political science, at the MAP rally on the Quad, Wednesday, October 7, 2009. Edward was one of several UI and Parkland College students who spoke in favor of the MAP grants.
  22. Develop a taste for a food you didn’t know existed before you came here.
  23. Change your mind about something important.
  24. Apply your English/CW skills to something nonacademic. Your job, your RSO, your volunteer activities, your personal relationships are all places you can use your gift for close reading, writing, analyzing a problem from different angles, giving/getting feedback, making a persuasive argument.observatory
  25. Read a book that’s not on the syllabus
  26. Look at the night sky through the telescope in the U of Illinois Observatory.
  27. Have tea with the ESC!
  28. Brush up your resume, do a little research, and then talk to a recruiter at a campus career fair. The more you go to these events, the easier and more fruitful they get, and there are many to choose from!
  29. mainstacksSpend some time in the stacks at the Main Library (yes, they’re open to undergraduates). Challenge completed when you’ve shifted five banks of movable shelving to get to the book you’re looking for.
  30. Attend a public lecture, reading, or panel discussion by one of your professors.