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The Student News Site of McLean High School

The Highlander

End of quarter forces students to drop courses

Students scramble to switch out of classes as first quarter grades finalize
Race+to+Erase-+Students+hurry+to+fill+out+schedule+change+forms+before+the+end+of+the+quarter.+If+a+student+drops+a+class+after+Nov.+20%2C+it+will+be+permanently+displayed+on+their+transcript.
Lauren Wood
Race to Erase- Students hurry to fill out schedule change forms before the end of the quarter. If a student drops a class after Nov. 20, it will be permanently displayed on their transcript.

As the quarter ends this week, students who had been hoping for improvement in difficult courses have found themselves at the doors of their counselors instead, requesting the paperwork to switch classes.
“After my last test, I just realized there was no hope for me in [physics honors],” junior Andrea Sweeney said. “I figured out I don’t want to go into anything STEM related, so why put myself through that and jeopardize my GPA and mental stability?”
The end of the quarter can be surreal for students with below-average grades in a particular class. It forces them to accept that time has run out to bring their grade up, and pushes them to act.
“A lot of students [initially] want to give the class a chance,” school counselor Kathleen Otal said. “Then by the end of the quarter they see that maybe their grades aren’t what they want them to be, or maybe that the course is just taking up too much time, and that’s when they drop out.”
Choosing to switch out of a class with a failing grade has many obvious benefits for students, such as lowering their stress levels and allowing them to allocate more time for other schoolwork. However, with the high academic standards at McLean, many students are hesitant to drop out of a class unless they absolutely have to.
“There’s such a negative stigma around dropping a class,” junior Julia Toro said. “I was worried about what others would think, especially my parents, but also what I would think about myself.”
Another source of unease is how colleges might view switching out of a class. Nov. 20 marks the last day students can drop a class without it showing on their permanent transcript, a major concern for those looking at competitive colleges.
“I was initially scared to drop physics because it might show on my transcript that I switched out,” Sweeney said. “I wasn’t failing, but I still didn’t want it to be on my permanent record that I switched out of a class for whatever reason.”
Despite student worries, staff assert that colleges will have no way of knowing a student dropped a class if it is done before the deadline. Dropping is often the best path for students, and switching before the quarter ends won’t penalize them in the future.
“If you have to be miserable in high school just to get into your dream college, then maybe that isn’t the right school for you,” Otal said. “There are almost 4,000 colleges in this country, and you will be able to do whatever you want to do in life regardless of which one you attend.”
The vast majority of students who drop a class are ultimately satisfied with their decision, and find themselves better positioned to succeed in their other classes without the stress of a failing grade.
“Most students try really hard to look like they have all the honors classes, all the APs, but the reality is that you have to consider the attainability of what you can and can’t do,” Sweeney said. “If you’re pushing yourself to the point that you’re going to end up failing a class or dropping your GPA, then it’s definitely worth it to just submit to the easier class.”

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