Tomorrow is a big day for many students at Villanova.
It is the last day they can withdraw from a course with no academic penalty. Students will receive a grade of WX on his or her official transcript for the course that he or she drops. Such a grade does not factor into their GPA, hence there is no academic penalty. A student seeking course withdrawal after this time must petition the dean of his or her college. Unauthorized withdrawals lead to a grade of Y, which is counted as an F in the Grade Point Average.
To me, it’s too early for a student to have to make such a decision. If I ran the school (which I would have no desire to do, and no one would have a desire for me to do so), I would give students right up until the last day of the semester to decide if they want to withdraw from a course.
At that point, they have all the info available to them, and can make a more informed decision about whether they want to have a letter grade show up on their transcript or a WX grade, indicating that they withdrew from the course.
Many students improve over the course of the semester, but having an “early” withdrawal deadline may not give them the opportunity to show such improvement. They have to make a decision on less than full information, and perhaps using information that is not representative of what their ultimate performance may be.
I should point out that Villanova is far from alone in having such a policy. A quick check of a few random schools seems to indicate that such an approach is the norm, compared to what I am suggesting. In fact, it was a bit challenging to find schools that permit such a late withdrawal deadline like the one I am proposing, but I did find a couple. It appears as if Brown and George Washington University allow students to withdraw from a course right up until final exams begin.
I guess I just don’t see any advantage to having an early withdrawal deadline, but I do see disadvantages. But with my proposal, I don’t see any downside, just advantages.
I realize there are rules surrounding being considered a full-time student, so a student would have to be careful not to withdrawal too many courses so as to lose status as a full-time student. But it seems like preventing such behavior could be easily automated into the grading system.
So I’m curious what you think.
Should students have to make the decision to withdraw from a course when they are about 60-70% of the way through the course, or should they be permitted to make such a decision right up until the end of the semester?
Here’s a poll, but I’d also like to see your comments…