When you are not doing particularly well in a course, you may feel a strong urge to do it over and achieve better results next time. It may look like a good idea – after all, you already have some knowledge of the related topics, so it is bound to be the best way to get the credit you want, right?
Unfortunately, things are usually not that simple. You have to consider many additional aspects of the situation, and how they affect your professional development before you make this decision. In this article, we will cover the most important things you have to think about before you decide whether you are doing yourself good service by repeating a class.
1. Your Class May Be not Repeatable for Credit
Most classes in most colleges are not repeatable for credit. It means that you can only earn credit for them once. Repeating them will not move you any closer to your PhD. You may replace your original grade with a new one, but unless you failed dramatically the first time, it is usually not the optimal application of your time and energy.
However, keep in mind that some classes are specifically designed to be repeatable for credit and are labeled as such. These are usually the classes related to physical education, creative writing, public speaking, and so on – in other words, related to activities that deal with the practice rather than the acquisition of knowledge. When you repeat a course on Medieval English Literature, you cover the same material you covered the first time and do not learn anything new. But when you repeat a course where you primarily write and edit APA style papers, you get better at writing, editing, and proofreading, which may come in handy when you later write your dissertation or thesis. But still, you may get better results from diversifying your academic experience. For example, if you doubt your editing skills, you can later compensate it by using dissertation editing services.
2. It May not Be the Best Way to Boost Your GPA
If your primary reason for repeating a course is to increase your GPA, ask yourself, “Is it really the best application of my time?” Do the math and check how much difference it will really make (you can find multiple online services where you can calculate your GPA and how much individual courses influence it). Chances are, you can spend the same amount of time doing another course and get a better return on investment. Also, remember that the more classes you take, the lesser is the impact of any individual class on your overall GPA. In other words, simply taking more classes and trying to do well in them is usually a more efficient way to improve your GPA than repeating classes you already took.
3. You May Be Acting on Inaccurate Information
If you intend to repeat a course to fulfill a major requirement, check if you really have to do it. Did you understand the university’s policies correctly? Clarify things with your department; ask them if they make exceptions and if so, in what circumstances. Your department always makes the final decision, so make sure to ask about your situation.
4. The Class Won’t Be Easier the Second Time Around
Don’t think that just because you are taking a course the second time, it is going to be easier to master it. It is a false assumption that may land you in a lot of trouble. The instructor could have refreshed the material and changed the class around, meaning that you will have to apply the same amount of effort. You may have to deal with a different instructor, meaning that the course may be quite different from what you remember. And you certainly do not have to assume that you will automatically get a better grade. Remember, in most universities the grade you receive the second time around automatically replaces the original one, whether it is better or not. It means that you may spend the time in this class and end up with a worse grade than you had originally.
5. It May not Be the Best Way to Improve Your Knowledge of the Subject
If you want to repeat a class because you want to improve your understanding of the topic, consider if it is the best way to do so. Perhaps you can solve the same problem by doing some reading on your own or taking a related but different class.
All in all, usually repeating a class is not a good idea. It is only worth doing if you must fulfill a major requirement, or if it is the only way to obtain crucial skills and knowledge you are going to build upon later. In most other cases, your time and effort are better applied elsewhere.