Red flags to keep an eye out for when dropping a class

Patrick Gillin

Choosing the right classes to take for a whole semester can be a tedious process. It’s like dating — first impressions are influential, but they can also be deceiving. We are all looking for our fairy-tale romance of a class: an easy A that doesn’t require too much work.

To keep you from getting stuck in a long-term relationship you can’t get out of, I have made a list of some potential red flags that may be a sign that you should drop a course before it’s too late.

Group assignments

Some people love group assignments and some absolutely despise them. That all depends on whether you’re the person who does all of the work because you don’t trust anyone else to meet your standards or the person who tells your group members you’re too “busy” to meet-up when you’re actually just slacking off and not doing anything to help the group.

You’re going to have to work in a group at some point in your time here at UBC, but if the thought scares you, be sure to read the syllabus thoroughly to see what the professor expects from you and your peers.

Anonymous professors

Going to a class where the prof can’t be found on Rate My Professor or doesn’t exist online is like going on a blind date — it can be unpredictable and exciting. But this usually means that they’re new to UBC, which means they could be that prof who goes off-book and only teaches through pictures and interpretative dance or a prof who just reads straight from the textbook.

Course breakdown

Taking a class with a final exam worth a huge percentage of your overall mark can be a real risk if you're not the best test-taker. If that's the case, a safer bet is to take a class with a couple of balanced assignments. While there will be more work to do, if you do really badly on one assignment, it won't impact your grade that much.

Rate my Professor

First off, the marks on this site can be deceiving and are truly subjective. It can be useful if there are a substantial amount of reviews for a particular prof with valid, unanimous criticism rather than vague comments like “too hard” or “had to put effort.” However, if you're really interested in a class and the professor's ratings are bad, don't let this completely deter you from taking it — who knows, you could be their protoégé.

Expensive reading list

As an arts student, when it comes to classes, weekly readings are the name of the game. We all tell ourselves that this will finally be the term where we don’t get behind on our readings — while simultaneously knowing that to be a farce. Books are expensive at the bookstore and there are some profs who have most of their readings available online and others who make you buy numerous personalized textbooks that weight a ton and are overpriced. Take a look at some different Facebook groups to buy and sell your old books. Or, check out our guide to see the best tips and tricks for buying textbooks.

This year, the deadline to drop a class without a “W” on your transcripts is September 19 and the last day to drop a class with a “W” on your transcript is October 13. Be sure to actually go to your classes and try them out before making any decisions. Sometimes it takes two or three classes to get into a good flow, but don't wait to long to drop, because you will likely be picking up another course and don't want to be two weeks behind at the beginning of the semester.