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We’ve all been there: It’s 3:47 a.m., you’re in Butler, and you have a midterm tomorrow—or rather, today. You’re watching Crash Course videos at 2x speed and scouring for past exams in a desperate attempt to cram your brain with all the necessary information before your 8:40. A thought pops into your head: Why am I even taking this class?

Well, we at Spectrum are here to tell you trust your intuition and drop the class, or at least to take it Pass/D/Fail instead. Read on to find out how.

Relevant dates:

Last day to drop a class (CC, Barnard, GS): Tuesday, 2/26/2019

Last day to drop a class (SEAS): Thursday, 3/28/2019

Last day to Pass/D/Fail (all schools): Thursday, 3/28/2019

How can I request to drop, withdraw from, or Pass/D/Fail a class?


To drop:

Log in to SSOL, click on the registration tab, and follow “Continue with Spring 2019 ADD/DROP request.”

To withdraw:

Follow the “Post Add/Drop Spring 2019 Registration” menu on the registration tab and click on “withdrawal request.” Your Center for Student Advising advisor will need to approve the request, and your account will be charged $75.

To Pass/D/Fail:

Choose the “Grading Option Change Request” option on the registration tab and click on the “Request Pass/D/Fail” button.

To uncover a “P” grade:

Click on the “Pass/D/Fail Uncover” link on the registration tab and fill out the form. Past grades for the previous semester can be unveiled within two weeks after the start of the following semester.


To drop or withdraw from a class:

Stop by the Office of the University Registrar to pick up an “Application to Drop a Course” form. Get your adviser’s signature and return the form to the office.

To Pass/D/Fail:

Go to Web Advisor for Students on myBarnard, follow “Pass/D/Fail,” choose the relevant course, and click “submit.”

To uncover a “P” grade:

Log into myBarnard and request to uncover using the same “Pass/D/Fail” button. You can uncover past grades within two weeks into the following semester.

Technically you can drop anytime—the class then just shows up as a W on your transcript (you also have to pay $75), but if you’re really failing it’s better than taking an L (D, F)—we suggest that you take the W.

Before you log into the registration tab, we also suggest that you meet with your adviser just to make sure that dropping the class won’t affect your graduation date, housing status, or financial aid package. There are also strictly enforced credit limits regarding the number of credits you’re allowed to Pass/D/Fail that differ based on school, transfer status, and course, so we also suggest checking with your adviser to confirm whether or not you can change your grading option. Additionally, advisers can help guide you toward resources such as tutors for certain classes or work-study jobs with available positions. If the course is relevant for your major, we also suggest contacting your major adviser.

When should I drop a class?

1. Too much on your plate

We get it: At the beginning of the semester, it’s all too easy to sign up for wayyyy too much. The fact that the spring term begins only a few weeks into the new year also doesn’t help. If reality is starting to kick in with the beginning of midterms, and you’re sleeping for less than six hours a night, or you have seriously considered spiking your morning coffee, we urge you to drop something if you can, be it a class, club, or extracurricular, because your sanity is priceless.

2. It’s too hard

Do you constantly find yourself looking at your professor’s slides and not knowing what’s going on? Or did you study more for that first exam than anything in your life and still really bombed it? It’s usually possible to salvage a grade, but if you have to get 100 on the next two midterms and final exam to do so, we suggest dropping. Think of it less as a surrender and more like a strategic move to conserve mental resources: Given that the rule of thumb is two hours of studying for each credit of class, it’s much smarter to drop a class than to power through if your time commitment exceeds three hours of studying per credit hour and you’re still doing poorly.

3. CULPA lied

We’re sorry if you walked into lecture expecting to change your perspective on the meaning of life, only to be disappointed. Some reviews on CULPA were written when you were still wearing pull-ups, and in that span of time, many formerly engaging and brilliant professors may have become disillusioned and tired. Spending your precious time and money on a horribly lackluster experience is a unique kind of Sisyphean torture, so if you can, drop or try to transfer into a different professor’s class. And next time, use Vergil+ instead of CULPA for up-to-date course reviews!

4. You’re not interested

Maybe you thought that environmental biology (or philosophy, or political science, or…) was your calling, but just staying awake during class is an effort and your notes are filled with more doodles than writing. If the class is relevant to your major or concentration and this class is the first dud you’ve encountered, maybe power through, but if not, consider dropping.

When should I P/D/F a class?

1. You want to explore a new field

If you have no idea what you want to do in life, taking your underclassmen years to explore new fields is vital and something we often don’t get to do enough of because of the extensive requirements of The Core and Foundations curriculum. If you’re in such a position and have decided to max out your credits with Science of Psychology or Intro to Java, we throw our full support behind you. If it gets to be too much, however, consider P/D/Fing your exploratory course. Even if you end up really enjoying the course and decide to major or concentrate in the field, many departments will allow you to P/D/F the intro course (though definitely check the major bulletin/talk to your advisor about the specific course beforehand).

2. It’s an 8:40 and you want the option to sleep in some days

No explanation necessary. Log in to SSOL or myBarnard to give yourself the freedom to hit that sweet, sweet snooze button!

3. You bomb the first test

If you did pretty poorly on the first midterm or paper but think that things might still be salvageable, consider P/D/Fing as a preventative measure: If the final goes really well, you can always uncover the grade.

4. You’re about to graduate and need to fulfill credit requirements

If you need to take above 16 credits this semester in order to graduate, we suggest finding a fun course, or maybe hitting up a few of these one-credit wonders. Since it’s your senior spring, it’s totally understandable if school is the lowest of your priorities—in that case, simply choose a class to P/D/F.

5. Dropping puts you under 12 credits

Twelve credits are the minimum necessary amount to maintain full-time student status and are required if you’re in CC, SEAS, or Barnard. However, if you’re working north of 20 hours a week or are involved in multiple student organizations, it's totally understandable even if 14 or 15 credits gets to be too much. If this is the situation that you’re in, then we suggest P/D/Fing the final course as well.

When should I just power through?

1. Core/Foundations/major classes

No matter how much you hate UWriting or First-Year Seminar, all we can offer is an empathetic sorry and maybe a box of tissues: For both Columbia and Barnard, these kind of courses are graduation requirements and can’t be taken P/D/F.

2. The course is required for your program of study

We’ve alluded to this several times elsewhere, but we just want want to be clear: If you’ve already declared a major or concentration, you have enjoyed the other courses you’ve taken in the field, and your current course is a requirement, then think very seriously before dropping or P/D/Fing, because with the exception of the introductory course in some programs of study, courses taken for a major or concentration must come with a letter grade. P/D/Fing therefore means later retaking the course for a letter grade.

Staff writer Michelle Zhuang can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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