Add/Drop Week: What You Need to Know


If the spring term hasn’t started for you yet, it’s just around the corner. The first week at most schools is known as the “add/drop” period (or drop/add, tomato/tomata). Even if you’re entering your second semester, this may be your first experience with adding and/or dropping courses on your own. Here’s what you need to know.

If this is your first time here, please take a moment to read my disclaimer.

When/What is add/drop week?

Add/drop week is typically the first full week of classes. You get the chance to go to your classes, hear from your instructor and decide if a course is right for you. You can change one course to another, you can switch to a section with a different meeting time or instructor, you can add on a new course or you can just drop a course. During this period you can add/drop without any academic penalties and add/drop actions will not appear on your transcript.

What if I want to switch one course for a completely different course?

My instinctual answer to this is simple: go see your advisor first! So you want to switch that Econ course to an Art course? Doing so may get your degree planning off course and could even delay your graduation. Seeing your advisor will ensure that you know your choices and their ramifications.

I want to add a course to my schedule, but the section of the course is closed/full. What does this mean and what can I do about it?

If the capacity for a course is 35 students and 35 students are enrolled, the course is full and usually, closed, meaning no one else can register for that particular section. You can choose an alternate section, but if there is none, you can try reaching out to the instructor for special permission to register. Keep in mind, if the classroom only holds 35 students per the fire safety code, this mostly likely won’t be overridden.

How do I actually add or drop a course?

Registration procedures vary by institution. Please refer to your school’s documentation of the registration process. If you’re having a hard time, you should talk to your advisor.

I tried to add or drop a course, but I have a hold on my record. What should I do?

There are any number of holds that can be placed on a student’s record. Parking tickets, library fines, past due tuition balance, transcript, immunization or low GPA holds are just a few examples. The first thing to do is find out which office placed the hold on your account and contact that office for a resolution, which you should be able to see on your holds page (if applicable). If no final resolution can be made, you may want to consider asking for a temporary lifting of that hold, but understand that the office doesn’t have any obligation to do so.

Uh oh. I meant to drop a course from my schedule, but add/drop week is over. What do I do?

In this case, you will typically complete a withdrawal. We’ll be talking about withdrawals in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

Another note about add/drop week:

Unless you have special permission, once the add/drop period is over, you typically will not be able to add any new courses to your schedule.

I hope you guys got some use out of this information. If you have any follow-up questions, I’m always glad to listen!

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