Real Talk: Overwhelmed and Jealous

I’m conflicted on whether I should drop a class. I’m feeling so overwhelmed this semester, and this class is by far my most stressful and time-consuming. I’m doing poorly in it, and it’s affecting my other classes too. I don’t mind retaking it next semester, I’m just worried how it will look on my transcript. Advice?

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the resigning process and some things to consider, I was to express that dropping and resigning courses is something much more normal than you’d think. I dropped a class a few semesters ago, and I remember feeling such a mix of guilt and relief – I felt like I had let myself down, but I felt relieved that I’d advocated for myself and had taken a step to make my semester better.

I want to encourage you to acknowledge the same — that whatever you choose, you’ve taken a step to improve upon yourself as a student, and a human being. Taking space away from a class is completely acceptable, especially if your mental health and well-being is at stake!

That being said, here are some considerations that I’d recommend taking some time to examine before making a decision:
• Resignation works under specific deadlines set by the university — you have to resign from a course within those deadlines in order to avoid any “penalties.” The first deadline is during the “add-drop” period, which is within the first 2-3 weeks of class. The other deadline is after midterms, and you receive a grade of “R” on your transcript — this grade doesn’t affect your GPA.
• If you don’t resign or drop from the course within those deadlines, you’ll receive whatever grade you get after the final exam. Don’t stress too much though! When you retake the class, the retaken grade completely replaces the original one, and your cumulative GPA changes with it. So, for example, if you get an “F” in a class and retake it for an “A,” your cumulative GPA will reflect the “A” rather than the “F.”
• When you drop a course and haven’t received an “R” as your grade, you’ll be placed at a lower priority to register for that course when you want to retake it. This means that, while other students can register for the course 3-6 weeks prior to the start of the semester, you’ll be able to enroll 1-2 weeks before the semester starts. So, if this is a class that’s typically held each semester with plenty of sections, you’ll have nothing to worry about. However, if it’s a class that’s held only in the Fall or Spring, or even Occasionally, you may want to consider your options in the future, and how it will affect your progress in getting your degree.
• See if the course you want to drop affects your ability to take other courses in future semesters. For example, if I dropped Calculus I, I wouldn’t be able to take Calculus II until I completed Calculus I again. If you’re able to get a passing grade, you can still take courses in which that course is a prerequisite, and you can still retake the course with the not-so-great grade whenever you’d like. Either way, the final attempt at any course you take (whether it be the 1st , 2nd , or 3rd ) will be the one that’s on your cumulative GPA, and thus your transcript.

Hopefully all these policy-based considerations make some amount of sense – I know that all of this can be hard to comprehend! Basically, it’s a good idea to do some of your own research about the course, and what other courses it could have an impact on if you choose to drop. As for your grade, keep in mind that, as I said, the final attempt at the course will be the one that is reflected in your GPA and transcript. Your transcript is dynamic and adaptable, so while the grade may look rough, it’s only temporary – you have the flexibility to increase it.

In this situation, I’d recommend making the decision on your own — feel free to take advice from family and friends (and me!), but make sure that the final choice is yours to make, especially if you’re planning on retaking it in the future. If you have any family members or friends that express concerns about this, let them know that you have a plan, and make sure that you’re able to explain the consequences of your choice, whatever that may be.

How do I deal with jealousy towards friends? My friends are getting prestigious internships, doing stellar academically, have amazing social and romantic lives, and just seem to be so happy with their lives, while it seems the opposite is happening to me. I want to be happy for them, but I can’t stop comparing myself to them and viewing their successes as my failures. It’s affecting our friendship at this point, and I hate it, but I can’t seem to stop.

Success is something that can be defined by the individual, so it looks different for each person. It sounds like you’re trying to define success and happiness based off the experiences of others, and that’s a dangerous mindset to have. I’m sure these comparisons are wearing you down personally as well — it can be exhausting to feel discouraged on a regular basis.

In that, I recommend taking some time to reflect on what you want your definition of success to be. It doesn’t have to be what your friends are doing, achieving, or experiencing. Maybe this could be by writing some ideas down, or even searching the course catalog to see if there are any courses outside of your major that you’d like to take. Try expanding your horizons and branching outward — it’s okay if your friends’ goals aren’t the same as yours. In my life, the path I want to take is a unique one, and many times I have to explain what I want to do, because it’s unfamiliar to a lot of people. And it may mean that I don’t get the fancy tech internship or get a high-paying job out of college, but I’m okay with that because I know that my success means following my passions – obviously, that’s different from what a lot of people view as success in their lives!

If you’re comfortable, this may be something you want to be open with your friends about as well. Having a conversation about how you’re feeling will lift a weight off your shoulders, and your friends will value your ability to talk to them about this. They may be able to provide you with better advice than I can, as they know you better. Family members, like your parents or siblings, may also have had similar experiences and can help you along the way too – you never know someone’s experiences until you ask or share with them.

Finally, and this is sort of cheesy, but try to find little day-to-day successes in your own life. It could be waking up in the morning on time, having three meals in a day, getting your homework done – simple things, but ones that can build a positive mindset where you’re becoming your biggest cheerleader. This may help reduce the desire to compare, as you’re finding your own victories in each day rather than analyzing the victories of others.