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How bad does a W on a transcript look to admission offices of competitive graduate schools?

student2509student2509 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
I am currently a sophomore at a private undergraduate institution, and I am facing an interesting tradeoff. I took a difficult class that I do not actually need for my major (change of plans) and my performance in the class is less than satisfactory. It might not be catastrophic, but it will surely drag down my GPA from this semester, and college overall. I can withdraw from the course, but that would give me a W on the transcript. I have a goal of applying for graduate school (potentially an MBA) at a reputable university, ideally an ivy league institution. Does it make sense to drop the course? What would look worse to their admission offices: a bad GPA for one course (and somewhat lower average) or a W on the transcript? I have not withdrawn from any courses previously, and hope not to face such a situation in the future. Thank you!

Replies to: How bad does a W on a transcript look to admission offices of competitive graduate schools?

  • WeLoveLymanWeLoveLyman Registered User Posts: 247 Junior Member
    I think a W on a transcript is better than a drastically lower GPA. As long as Ws aren't a pattern, you will be fine.
  • WilmarieWilmarie Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    I had a similar situation in my junior year and after meeting an academic advisor I was told a W is better than a D or an F. A W doesn't affect your grad school chances unless, its a repeated pattern (3 or more) or if your W's are all in the same subject area. For example, if you have 3 W's on your transcript and they are all for Chemistry classes, it might indicate that you have a weakness in the chemistry subject area.
    Another thing to consider, make sure you clarify whether the W on your transcript will indicate your current standing in the class. For example some schools have WF ("W with a Fail" explicitly shows that you were in danger of failing the class before you dropped it), other schools don't differentiate. If your school makes a distinction and you're currently in danger of failing the class, you should speak to an academic or grad school advisor, as this might have a seperate implication.
    Overall, If you can, I would still choose to save your GPA with a W. You can always explain a W on transcript to grad schools, but if you have a poor GPA, you might be screened out from the application process entirely.
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