When should students drop a course?
Most students carry four courses during their first semester with no trouble. But some students will need to drop to three as they adjust to college demands much more rigorous than their high schools prepared them for. Dropping to three courses is a good strategy for students already overwhelmed by the workload and falling behind (it will only get worse) or students who find themselves in a course at too high a level for their background. This is one of those good uses for AP credits. A three –course load is considered full time.
For such students you might want to have the conversation about which course to drop. It’s not always the one they are behind in or neglecting. It’s more likely the one for which they are under-prepared and putting in a good deal of fruitless work. But these are individual conversations between adviser and advisee.
A couple of things to watch, though. Students without AP’s will have to make up the credit, usually in a summer, sometimes by taking the summer language school at Middlebury at the end of sophomore spring (3 credits) for which financial aid is available. International students must take a minimum of 3 courses for visa reasons. And a student with three courses will go on probation with only one grade of “D” and into academic failure with only one grade of “F.”