Hundreds of La Cité college students have dropped out of their fall semester courses following the Ontario college strike.

The students dropped out in advance of yesterday's deadline to withdraw and be reimbursed without academic penalties.

In total, 341 students at La Cité dropped out of the fall term, according to Pascale Montminy, the manager of communications and public relations at La Cité.

Students were allowed to withdraw from classes this late in the semester because the Ontario college strike prevented them from attending classes or contacting teachers for five weeks. Students had 10 business days from the end of the strike to withdraw from classes.

Students who decided to stay in their courses are still eligible to get up to $500 from the college for expenses incurred because of the strike.

La Cité and other Ontario colleges were ordered by the Ontario government to put aside money in a dedicated fund for students who had extra expenses during the lengthy strike.  

"For instance this could be unexpected childcare fees or if they had to rebook trains or plane tickets," Montminy said.

Students have until Apr. 27 to apply for the reimbursement and show proof that the strike cost them money.

An estimated 500,000 students across Ontario were affected by the college strike, which ended when the provincial government passed back-to-work legislation on Nov. 19.

But after more than a month out of school, many students were overwhelmed with the amount of work they had to catch up on, Montminy said.

"I think one of the key reasons is that the students think the workload will be too heavy for them to finish it and succeed," she said.

Students who have withdrawn from this semester will still be able to apply for classes in the winter semester or enroll for the next fall term. But they will have to retake the classes they dropped this semester. The strike has also pushed the fall semester until Jan. 26 and the February reading week has been cancelled. 

Other colleges in Ontario are allowing students to withdraw from this semester, including Algonquin College. Algonquin College is still calculating the number of students who dropped their classes.