If you experience academic difficulty in prehealth coursework or other courses at NYU, remember that there are many resources at your disposal. The University Learning Center offers individual peer tutoring as well as group learning and review sessions to help you make the most of your coursework. Students should also remember to check in with their academic advisors if they encounter difficulties and wish to discuss withdrawing from a course, repeating coursework, taking a course pass/fail, or completing science coursework over the summer.
Withdrawing from Courses
Withdrawal is a process of de-enrollment from a course following the general add/drop deadline; it allows a student to be removed from a course, but leaves the course noted on the student's transcript, with a W instead of a letter grade. At CAS, students are able to withdraw from courses through the ninth week of a given fall or spring semester, and should consult directly with their general academic advisors to understand the necessary procedures. Students in other divisions of NYU may be subject to different deadlines, and should consult their advisors for more information.
Withdrawing from a course may be appropriate if extenuating circumstances prevent you from devoting the necessary time to a course, or impact your ability to do well in exams. Students may also consider withdrawing from a course if, after discussion with an instructor, it is clear that they will not be able to successfully complete the course. We recommend that students consult with their instructors as well as general, prehealth, and major advisors before pursuing a course withdrawal.
Before withdrawing from a course, it is important to consider the impact that not completing that course could have on your plans to complete your degree or prehealth requirements. If you are withdrawing from a course that is part of a larger course sequence, reflect on the fact that this will delay your completion of the sequence, and discuss how you will restructure your plan with the relevant advisors. If you have withdrawn from a course due to academic difficulty, you should also consider when you will be truly ready to repeat that course--reflect on the circumstances surrounding your withdrawal, and only register for the course again once you understand what prevented you from being successful the first time, and have a plan to address those obstacles moving forward.
A grade of W does not impact your GPA at NYU, but health professions programs may assume that a grade of W indicates that the student would otherwise have received a grade of C- or lower. At the same time, health professions programs do not automatically see a single W on a transcript as a red flag. For a student who has an otherwise strong record, a W is not likely to be an important factor in the admissions process. However, a pattern of W grades and other evidence of academic difficulty may impact your competitiveness in the admissions process, and we encourage students to be cautious about multiple withdrawals for this reason.
Students may consider repeating a course if they were unable to earn a satisfactory grade (C or better) or withdrew in their first attempt at a course. The standard of C or better exists because most health professions programs will accept courses taken for a grade of C or better to fulfill admissions requisites, and most departments at NYU require completion of a course with a C or better in order to move on to the next course in a sequence. In general, the Preprofessional Advising Center recommends that students not repeat courses in which they have earned a grade of C or better, unless a student feels that, even with a satisfactory grade, they are not prepared to move on to the next course in a sequence. We expect that course repeats should be rare, and only undertaken after discussion with an advisor.
Before deciding to repeat a course, you should consider the possible impact of your decision on your degree plans at NYU as well as your future applications to health professions programs. Repeating courses can change your course sequencing, which may impact the timing of your completion of requirements and your applications to professional programs. You should also consider school-specific policies regarding repeated courses. CAS students should note the CAS course repeat policy, which allows for only two repeated courses during the undergraduate career (including courses a student completed and courses from which they have withdrawn) and states that students cannot go backward in a sequence (for example, you cannot repeat MATH-UA 121, Calculus I, after you've taken MATH-UA 122, Calculus II). CAS students should also note that when a course is repeated, the initial grade will remain on the transcript, and the grade that is factored into the NYU GPA is the average of the two grades received for the course. That is, if a student initially earns a D in a class, but repeats the course with a B, the student's GPA will appear as if the student had taken the course once, with a grade of C. Students in other schools should consult with their home school advisors to learn the specific policies governing course repeats at their divisions of NYU.
With respect to the impact of repeated courses on future applications to professional programs, it is important to note that most application services will calculate GPAs in the same manner as the CAS policy mentioned above; if a student has repeated a course, both grades are factored into the student's application GPA. Our BCPM calculator mentions GPA-calculation policies at a number of commonly-used application services, and provides links for more information. We advise that all prospective applicants to health professions programs be aware of the standards for various GPA calculations used by their application services of interest.
We recognize that students occasionally consider repeating courses in which they have earned a grade with which they are unhappy, even if the grade is high enough to allow them to move on in the curriculum. Because most application services do not allow applicants to replace original grades with repeated ones, though, there are clear limitations to course repeats as a strategy for improving a student's overall or BCPM GPA. For students who feel that they could have performed better in a course but are able to move on, we typically recommend doing just that, and, instead of repeating a course, planning to take higher-level courses in that discipline to demonstrate advanced competency in the subject. For instance, if you feel that you under-performed in Organic Chemistry I, but earned a grade that allows you to move on to Organic Chemistry II, we would advise you to do so, and then plan to take an additional semester of biochemistry or other advanced chemistry coursework in the future. By doing well in higher-level classes, you can make improvements to your GPA while demonstrating to health professions programs that you can handle an advanced curriculum. If you have questions about how to strategize for ways to improve your science or overall GPA, we encourage you to speak with a prehealth advisor.
Health professions programs typically require that all courses taken to complete admissions requisites, whether science courses or others, be taken for letter grades. For this reason, it is not advisable to take a prehealth course pass/fail, since you would most likely need to plan to repeat the course for a letter grade in the future. At CAS, courses taken to fulfill major, minor, or Core requirements must be taken for a letter grade, and only pure elective courses may be taken pass/fail; we encourage students at other NYU schools to be aware of their schools' pass/fail policies and procedures. Students may consider taking elective (non-major, minor, Core, or prehealth) coursework pass/fail, and should not worry that an occasional elective taken pass/fail will negatively impact their application plans. As with course withdrawals, mentioned above, we simply recommend that students avoid a distinct pattern of pass/fail courses. If you have questions about how to request to take a course pass/fail, consult with your home school advisor.
The Preprofessional Advising Center recommends that prehealth students plan to complete all prehealth science courses at NYU during the regular academic year. Graduate schools of the health professions strongly prefer that science prerequisites be taken at the same institution, and during fall or spring semesters, since they look for evidence that a prospective student can perform well in a rigorous, science-intensive curriculum. The abbreviated nature of summer science coursework means that you have less time to absorb the information presented in the courses, and this may put you at a disadvantage when taking upper-level science courses later. If you are concerned about being able to complete both your prehealth requirements and degree requirements without summer coursework, we recommend that you speak with your home school advisor(s) as well as a prehealth advisor to create a workable plan. Taking non-science courses over the summer--even the mathematics, English, or social science courses recommended for prehealth students--is highly preferable to taking science courses during the summer term, and taking non-science courses in the summer will not put you at a disadvantage in the admissions process.
If, after conversations with your home school advisor and a prehealth advisor, you conclude that your personal, extenuating circumstances require you to complete a science course over the summer, we strongly advise that you plan to minimize other commitments in order to devote ample time to the course over the summer session, including lots of study time outside of lecture and lab hours, in order to get the most out of a course. We advise that students never plan to complete science coursework outside of NYU during the summer, for several reasons:
- Your school may restrict options to receive credit from other institutions once you have matriculated at NYU. Consult with your home school advisor to learn about your school's policies on transferring credits from other institutions as a current student.
- Even if your school approves you to take courses outside of NYU, these are not guaranteed to fulfill the prerequisites for additional courses taken at NYU. Outside courses would have to be evaluated by the relevant academic department to determine their equivalence (if any) to NYU's coursework.
- Graduate schools of the health professions prefer candidates who have taken all pre-health sciences at a single institution. Schools of the health professions recognize the rigor of NYU's science curriculum and expect to see consistently strong grades from our candidates. If a student's record reveals enrollment at other institutions after their matriculation at NYU, this may cause admissions personnel to question the student's abilities to perform at the level required at NYU.
Finally, please keep in mind that your application to a professional program will require you to record all college-level courses taken and to provide a transcript from every college/university attended. You will be expected to report any and all grades received from accredited colleges/universities in order to allow the application service to accurately calculate your overall and science GPA. Remember that admissions committees will rely on the GPAs computed for you by your application service, and not the GPA listed on your transcript(s), to evaluate your candidacy.