Preparing for College

Effect of "Withdrawal" on College Admission Decisions?

Question: I'm in 10th grade. How much will a W (Withdrawal) on a transcript hurt chances of getting into a college?

A "W" won't necessarily hurt you at all, but the key factor will be what's left on your schedule once you pull out of a class. For instance, let's say you're a biology buff and thus you decide to take both AP Bio and Environmental Science at the same time. But then you realize that you've bitten off more than you could chew. Dropping the Environmental Science won't hurt you. Dropping the AP Bio will be somewhat more significant since it's a "weighted" course which might affect your cumulative GPA and class rank. Even if your high school doesn't rank its students, your overall course load will be less demanding without this AP. The more selective colleges will probably notice this. Other colleges might not. And if you drop the only class you were taking in a major field (science, math, foreign language, etc.) then this will leave a visible void on your transcript. Dropping an elective such as psychology, yearbook, band, etc. wouldn't. In fact, if your schedule is full of rigorous major subjects, dropping an elective shouldn't have any effect on college outcomes.

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