There is a grade in college that is unlike any other you have ever seen or heard of. It is referred to as a “W” for withdrawal. A W on your transcript might or might not be a major deal. Everything is dependent on a few criteria. Let’s explore do withdrawals really look bad for Law School?

Many students have good reason to be concerned about their academic transcripts. It is imperative to pursue a graduate degree, as they will play a significant role in the admissions process. A high GPA can also help you stand out from the crowd throughout the job application process by boosting your resume and setting you apart from the competition.

In the end, a non-punitive decline will have no bearing on the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) GPA, which is crucial to the admissions process. As a result, a first or second withdrawal is often preferable to a D or an F in a course.

Dropping a course to avoid a “C” is a common request from students of various categories, including double major students. While it is not recommended, a withdrawal can be a brilliant idea if your first C and your troubles in the subject jeopardize your other grades.

If you have a reason for dropping from the class other than the difficulty of your academic work or the demands of the course load, it may impact your decision. An addendum explaining why you dropped a class or classes is the only thing (except in special situations with facts) accepted by law schools.

They are more inclined to forgive a drop caused by unforeseen circumstances, such as scheduling issues, major illness, or family problems, than if you dropped a class solely because you disliked the professor. However, I am not sure how well that argument will play with the admissions office if your reason for quitting class were because you did not think you would receive a good grade.

When determining dropping a class or not, consider the intrinsic importance of persevering through academic difficulties. Legal education is demanding, and dropping a law center course without straining one semester or more and jeopardizing your academic progress is almost impossible.

Maximize all the resources within your reach to assist you in succeeding before deciding to drop a course and see an academic advisor if you find yourself in a situation whereby a pattern of withdrawal is beginning to set in over the next few terms. It would be best to discuss how your decision to discontinue will affect your admission to the law college with the Pre-Law Coordinator and an academic advisor.

However, a W is unlikely to make or break your career in most circumstances. However, there are still crucial factors to consider before dropping a class. So let us closely take a closer look at what it means, your alternatives, and the possible implications.

how bad is a w on a transcript for law school

What is a Withdraw (W)

Most colleges and universities allow students enrolled in either the semester system or quarter system to remove a course before the add/drop deadline. If you drop a course before the add/drop date, it will be removed from your transcript as if you never took it. However, following the add/drop deadline, you guys will no longer be able to drop a course from your record entirely. Instead, you can decide to drop a course. In this situation, the class is kept on your transcript, but instead of a grade, a “W” for Withdraw is placed on your transcript for that course.

A W is not a grade for a course that has been finished. As a result, repeating the course will not erase a ‘W’ from your transcript.

Does it make a difference? Consider the following;

Is it a Required Course?

If you guys are thinking about dropping a class, the first and most important thing to evaluate is whether it is required for your major. There could be unforeseen situations that make a withdrawal the best option. Taking the W is essential, for example, if you have health or family difficulties that become a priority for your school.

However, if the course is too challenging or you are unwilling to put out the necessary work, you should reconsider. If the class is essential for your degree, consider hiring a tutor or asking for assistance. If you drop it and receive a W, you will have to retake it to graduate. The W will remain on your transcript.

When does it become too many?

Every university has its existing policies about the number of Ws considered excessive. Checking your university’s rules online or asking a university counselor or academic advisor is the best option.

does a withdrawal look bad for law school
does a withdrawal look bad for law school


A college cumulative GPA is computed by giving each letter grade a numerical value and dividing it by the number of courses studied. What constitutes a good college GPA varies and is generally determined by the graduate institution you choose to enroll in after completing your undergrad studies.

The effect of a W on your transcript is likely to be determined by the rest of your transcript as well as the rest of your application. If you have a 3.9 GPA and one “W” from freshman year, for example, the W is unlikely to make much of an impact. As your GPA drops or any anomalies emerge, that W will likely become more important, causing the admissions officials assessing your application to raise an eyebrow.

However, it is essential to note that a W will not affect your grade numerically. However, it will remain on your transcript.

Alternative for Withdrawing

Consider your options before withdrawing from a course. A W is not the worst thing that can happen to you in college, but it’s far from ideal.

Do you think you will fail if you do not take the W?

Failing is worse than receiving a failing grade. A failing grade in college can substantially influence your GPA if you do not take the class on a “pass/no pass” basis. For example, a letter grade of “F” will give you zero points on your GPA, but it will still count as a class when dividing your total points. As a result, your GPA may suffer.

How will your other courses and time be affected if you do not withdraw?

Will this course consume too much of your time and energy if you decide not to withdraw? If it is too much of a strain on you and your other classes, the W grade might be worth accepting. I highly doubt anything negative would come up over such a mere issue provided you have reasonable explanations. You can channel time and energy to other classes, responsibilities, opportunities, or personal needs. In these cases, a W could show that you took the initiative and responsibility to protect your time and work in your remaining classes. Everyone’s starting point is different and subjective. You will, however, have to take the course if it is required for your main course.

Is it possible to receive assistance instead?

In most cases, you can seek further help in a course that is causing you problems. You can always tackle a difficult course by asking a peer for assistance, attending office hours, watching video lessons, hiring a tutor, or using online tools.

does pass fail look bad for law school

What It Will Look Like Later

A W on your transcript is not ideal, but it is also not the worst circumstance. They might not hold it against you if you want to apply to graduate school and there is no pattern of Ws cropping up. Showing an improvement in your grades is more crucial than earning a W.

In addition, colleges will consider the difficulty of your courses when determining whether or not you can withdraw. If you have to drop a course due to a personal emergency, you can include that information in your statements.

Your W is unlikely to matter if you apply to the workforce after graduation rather than postgraduate school. Your employer is unlikely ever to see or request your transcripts. Instead, the most information you should give is your GPA, which is not necessarily needed but can make your resume stand out if it is high, and your degree. None is seen as a necessity for employers because they trust you.

How Bad is a Withdrawal(W)?

Many students are concerned about Ws on their transcripts, but in reality, a W reveals very little information. It simply indicates that you elected not to continue with the class between the third and eighth weeks of the quarter. A W is not a “false positive,” and it indicates nothing about your class performance up to that time. It reveals significantly less information on your transcript than a No Pass (NP) or Repeated (RP) mark. A W has no bearing on your GPA. A withdrawn class is not deemed “complete” and does not count toward the limited number of times you can repeat a course.

A W on your transcript isn’t uncommon, and it won’t endanger your future employment or ambitions for postgraduate school, professional school, or other educational pursuits. If, for instance, your transcript appears that you consistently enroll in a large number of units every quarter and then have to withdraw every quarter because you’ve overextended yourself, someone looking at your transcript is unlikely to notice your Ws unless they start to suggest a frequent and recurring pattern.

However, if your Ws are occasional and don’t appear to be part of a pattern, there is no cause for alarm.

Will my W standing affect my application to graduate programs?

It is not uncommon for students considering postgraduate education, medical school, or other professional institutions to be concerned about their Ws. These programs’ admissions committees look at your academic record as a whole in the context of your entire application. Their purpose is to see if you’re capable of handling the demands of their curriculum.

They look for patterns more specifically — improving score, for example, is a desirable trend. But, on the other hand, a recurring pattern of Ws in your transcript could be concerning, indicating a problem with time management or workload forecasting.

Schools are more interested in quantitative components like actual grades, final GPA, and an LSAT score than in harder-to-measure outcomes such as a withdrawal or an LSAT absence, so try to keep anything objectively unfavorable off your record, if at all feasible.

A single W is not regarded as a trend, and it does not suggest a consistent pattern of conduct or an inability to perform at a high level by itself. When done for the right reasons, a withdrawal means you made the best option you could under the circumstances.

A W(withdraw) or a bad grade?

Some narrations have suggested that one takes a bad grade over a W. This is also incorrect, albeit it depends on how you define a bad grade. A “W” is always preferable to a failing grade. Whether a “W” is preferable to a “B” or a “C” depends on the applicant. Let us put it that Jadon is in his third year of college study. He has never received a “W” in his first two years of school but is on the verge of getting a C in one of his classes. Nevertheless, he is confident that he will receive an A if he retakes the class.

In Jadon’s circumstances, receiving the “W” might be preferable and understandable to the graduate school admission committee. The admission committee could interpret the situation as going through a difficult time or having academic struggles.

However, if all of your “W’s” recur near the end of your college career, law schools and other graduate institutions may view this as someone who is “running out of gas.” I hope this clarifies some misconceptions about “W(withdraw).”

does withdrawing from a class look bad for grad school

Bottom Line

The truth is that a W on your transcript may be more important to some people than it is to others. For instance, if you want to go to graduate school but have a recurrent history of withdrawals, you might not be a good fit. Repeated withdrawals may also be grounds for dismissal by your current university, as they render you unfit to continue studying.

On the other hand, if you do not choose to withdraw, such as if something happens that you can not control or failure is the only option, take the W and move on. So be it if you have to retake the class for your major at a later date. You would be better aware at the very least of what to expect from the coursework.

Hence, underestimating your college transcripts and marks should prove to be a wrong decision in the long run. However, it is essential to remember that you can always ask for it if you need assistance and figure out a method to get by before giving up or failing.


Q1. What differentiates dropping a class and withdrawing from a class?

Although dropping and withdrawing from a course are identical, there is one key difference. A drop is not shown on transcripts and has no bearing on GPA, whereas a withdrawal is seen on transcripts but has no bearing on GPA.

Q2. How many courses can you drop in college?

There are no restrictions on how many drops you can make. They are not tracked because they do not appear on transcripts and affect your grade point average.

Q3. What should I do if I drop a mandatory class for my major or graduation?

Consult your departmental counselor or the chair of your department. It may affect your graduation date. There may be an alternative course available, although this is not always the case.”

Q4. Does the honors program matter for law school?

No, because it appears on the applications of tens of thousands of college of law applicants. It would be best to write an Honors thesis because you want to, and it interests you. But, please do not do it for the sake of getting into the college of law. Instead, raise your GPA as much as you can and ace the LSAT.

Q5. Is finance major good for the law center?

A finance degree is a good starting point for a career in corporate law. While you will not go into as much detail about economics, you will understand how company finances work.

Q6. How do law schools weigh bad grades for applicants?

Law schools understand that grades are only one indicator of a candidate’s abilities. For example, an intelligent student could have a poor grade due to challenging coursework or juggling multiple tasks. In contrast, others took longer to find their footing or expertise.

So do not be discouraged if your scores do not seem to represent your intellectual potential, as there are compensatory ways to complement your low GPA on your application.

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