I’m Curious What You Think

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…

25 thoughts on “I’m Curious What You Think

  1. IMHO by 60%, I know whether or not I’m going to catch on. I’d rather bail early and quit wasting my time.

    But now that I’ve said that, I realize other peeps might not reach that conclusion till the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like freedom, so I say let them wait until the last day. In fact, let them wait until it’s time to present their report card to their parents. If they’d rather withdraw from the class than face the parental music, then let the poor kids withdraw.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m not swayed by either side. Maybe allow one withdrawal up to final exams, one per semester and a maximum per degree. Is this allowed only because of GPA? Or so as to not waste the time of the teaching staff? It’s a new concept to me and imo certainly doesn’t teach perseverance or taking responsibility for choices. But then again, how many teenagers really know what they want to study. Difficult conundrum.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think there could be several reasons driving why a student decides to drop a course, but lamost always it involves their grade and the impact it would have on their GPA. I had a student who was on track to get an “A-” for a class drop it, because it would lower his GPA. I like your idea of a max number per degree…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m not sure. How’s that for a definitive answer? I wonder if always knowing there is a an escape clause might not be the best thing. At the same time, unless someone is on a scholarship, that means they’re paying. Perhaps that gives them the right to hang out as long as they want.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that having an out may not lead to full commitment. and in terms of paying,, many students who drop a course may try to stay on schedule by making up the course over the summer, which is an extra cost compared to taking courses during the regular semester…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t know the ins and outs of your education system, but you raise an important general point about studying and career choice. As a person with experience of career disasters best forgotten, useful only for amusing blog material, I wonder at which point one should decide to abandon or escape? At a training school I went to, several in our class left in the first week! I at least managed to finish and work the probationary period and know for sure I was a disaster! How many of us can know what career we are suited to if we have never been anywhere except school and further education?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think students shold give things a fair shot, and by staying all of the way through until teh end of the semester, you would hope that’s what they are doing, as opposed to dropping out earlier. And I agree that there is a value in getting as many varied experiences as you can before you settle on a “career”…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am all about personal empowerment, so my initial thought was to agree that they should be allowed to exit a class at their own discretion. However, Pete makes a valid point about scholarships. If the school is picking up the tab, then maybe they should have some say in when you can or cannot drop a course without penalty. If I am paying for my education, then as a consumer I think I should retain the rights to do as I wish regarding dropping a class. Of course, this is from an outside perspective with little knowledge of the intricacies of secondary education. I would have had a better answer, but I dropped that course….😁

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I dropped one course in college, a course in American Literature. I liked the course until I realized I couldn’t study the way I was used to – cramming. I discovered that I couldn’t read Moby Dick in one night and write an essay on it. So I read the Cliff Notes and based my essay on the Cliff Notes. I got a D- on the paper, and that’s when I realized I was not ready for such a course…

      Regarding scholarships, it’s a mixed bag. Many scholarships require students to maintain a minimum GPA. If a student is in a course where they are not doing well and it could put their scholarship in jeopardy, that might be a very valid reason to drop the course…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I would give the option of always having the out at any point, for a variety of reasons. even if they opt out at the very end, they may have gained something from experiencing the class, the uni is paid so they are okay, and, the class may have grown on them. really. no downside here, other than their choosing to do what they may have considered to be a waste of their time and energy.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. How about if you sign up for a class you take it to the end? Knowing you can bail out at any time, at least for some, can lessen their “skin” in the game. My guess is that if a student quits a class, their parents ( or someone) still pays for it. What does a three credit class cost at Nova?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. there is that side of it, and in hindsight, I should have included that as an option in my poll. But sometimes students may have a valid reason for needing to drop a course, and that reason could appear at any time during the semester.

      Tuition for one semester at Villanova costs about $29,000. For that cost, I believe students can take up to 18 credits. To take a three-credit summer course is about $2,100.

      Like

  9. I would think that by the time someone 70% through a semester, they would know whether or not or they will make it. But then again there are those who leave everything to the last minute and still get it done. The deadline is probably so that administration doesn’t have a late run on withdrawals. Numbers are important to them. Too many last minute cut and runs wouldn’t look good. I only ever withdrew from one course, a stats class right before a midterm that I knew I wouldn’t pass. And that was the end of my business degree. It was the only coursework the degree that I didn’t get.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think on most cases you probably do have a god sense of how you are doing in a course when you reach the 70% mark. Even if that is the case, I don’t see any harm in letting students wait until the last minute to drop a course if they want to. I do not know if this would cause an admin nightmare; if it did, then they would have to be taken into account. And yes, stats is a course that I think is a very popular one for students to drop…

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Some students may not have the necessary background to be successful or skills in the course the first time around. If they stay in till the end, then they have gone through the entire course which will improve their chances of success when they take the course the second time. In most cases, there will be no partial refund given withdrawing this late. If the student wants to stay in to the end, I say let them stay.

    Liked by 1 person

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