Dropping a class well into the semester may get a little less scary for some students next year.
LSA administrators are considering withholding the ‘W,’ which stands for withdraw, from the transcripts of first-semester LSA freshmen and transfer students who drop classes after the allotted three weeks. Students often perceive the transcript annotation as a negative reflection of their academic record.
The LSA proposal will be voted on at a faculty meeting on Dec. 6.
“The rationale for this revised policy is to promote academic exploration and also to ease the transition from academic life at the University,” said Marjorie Horton, assistant dean for LSA undergraduate education.
The proposal was introduced by LSA Associate Dean Robert Owen at the October faculty meeting and has been supported by the LSA curriculum committee. Horton said she could not predict if the proposal would be approved by the LSA faculty, but remains optimistic.
However, the new withdrawal policy will not be extended to all students because the ‘W’ is important in maintaining an accurate record of the student’s enrollment activities, Horton said.
“(The ‘W’) is not intended to be punitive,” she said, adding that she did not see it as presenting problems for a student’s future.
But most students, like LSA junior Nicole Mellian, tend to view the ‘W’ on their transcripts as having repercussions for future employment or graduate school applications.
“Just as a precaution, I would not drop a class unless it was really, really bad,” she said.
Besides viewing the ‘W’ as a blemish on an otherwise clear transcript, students also point to the fact that the drop/add deadline is too early for them to make an informed decision about the level of difficulty of a class and whether they will be able to handle the workload.
“I think that three weeks may be a little bit too short because the first week you’re not really doing too much and maybe by the third week things start getting a little more difficult,” Mellian said. “An extra week or two would help.”
The LSA Student Government has voiced these concerns to administrators in the past, but the University has opposed moving the drop/add deadline to a later date in the semester.
Administrators say they oppose moving the drop/add deadline because professors have a hard time sticking to their curriculum if enrollment keeps changing, and because waitlisted students will have a harder time getting into classes if the deadline is pushed back.
For these reasons, LSA-SG president Ryan Ford said he considers the proposal to change the withdrawal policy for first-semester freshman and transfer students a good compromise between the University’s position and extending the drop/add deadline for all students.
“The administration has their reasons for why they can’t move (the deadline), back so they’ve tried to do something … because they know students don’t like the current policy,” he said.
Ford added that right now he just hopes this proposal will pass and does not think that LSA-SG will pursue an extension of the policy to second-semester freshmen and students from other grades.