Last week I was confronted with a difficult choice. I had just received my midterm grades for two classes; I did not do as well as I hoped. In addition to the disappointment, I also faced a decision: do I drop this course or do I remain in the class? Do I hope for the best but expect the worst? There were a lot of things to consider, but the two most glaring concerns had to do with academics and finances.
Fifteen years ago, I was a student at the University of Toronto. One of the things that I wish I had done differently was dropping courses that I was not doing well in. For instance, Introduction to Economics – I struggled in this course; by the midterm I had serious doubts about my ability to pass the course. I didn’t even consider dropping the course because I felt that it was a waste of money to do so. I also did not want to increase my OSAP debt any more than I needed to. So I remained in the course and prepared my Mom and Dad for the possibility of failure. Final Grade: 52%, D minus. Come graduation, this mark would be one of the marks that would pull down my GPA.
Fast forward to today. What to do? As a mature student, finances are probably the biggest challenge to doing well in school, the second is time management. To make this decision, I needed to put into context why I decided to return to school. I returned to school to complete an undergraduate degree with the unwavering intention to pursue graduate studies; preferably graduating with first class standing so that I am considered for scholarships and bursaries. After getting my Masters I intend to take the Canadian Foreign Services Exam and build my career as a Diplomat. To do any of this, my GPA needs to remain my first priority. Remembering this, the decision became easy – I dropped the course.
When deciding whether to drop a course or not, it’s important to remember that the decision is personal and needs to be put into the context of your life. Try and remember why you are in school and also what you need to do in order to build your future. If graduate studies is not part of your plan, then having one or two lower marks will not really matter. But if you intend to pursue graduate studies, good marks should remain your top priority. Protect your GPA! This is what I am doing my second time around.