Thursday, October 18, 2012

Withdrawing from Courses

What withdrawing from a course means and how it is done:

Withdrawing from a course means choosing to leave a course after the Add/Drop deadline in the second week of class, but before the withdrawal deadline, which in Fall 2014 is Thursday, October 23. Withdrawing from a course means that no grade is issued for the course. A"W" appears on the transcript instead.

One can withdraw from a course by using the Add/drop feature on MyMadison.

Possible drawbacks of withdrawing from a course: 

1. Withdrawing from a course decreases the number of credit hours in which one is enrolled. If after withdrawing from a course one is enrolled in under 12 credit hours, one is no longer officially a full-time student. This status is important for financial aid, and often for health and auto insurance. In general, it is not a good idea to withdraw from a course if that will result in fewer than 12 credit hours for the term.

2. Regardless of full-or part-time status, the number of courses one attempted at start of term is used by financial aid in calculating the "hours attempted" number, against which credits earned are measured for determining whether or not a student is making satisfactory academic progress.  The Financial Aid Office explains how the calculation is done here:
In general, a first semester student can withdraw from one course with no adverse effects on financial aid.

3. Having a W on the transcript. This is not as serious as most students imagine. A pattern of withdrawals over several semesters looks bad, but one withdrawal in the first semester at college is unremarkable.

Possible benefits of withdrawing from a course:

1. Avoid failing a course. The number one reason students withdraw from courses is that they are too far behind and/or too otherwise occupied to have a reasonable chance of passing the class. It is much better for one's academic record to have a W followed by a passing grade in a similar course later on, than an F (or a D in a course required for one's major).

2. Avoid failing multiple courses. Withdrawing from a course frees up more time for the remaining courses. It is better to do decently in 12 credit hours the first semester and make up the balance later, than to fail 6 hours in the first semester and spend the next three years repairing one's gpa.

3. Protecting the integrity of your education. Each course at JMU ought to enrich your intellectual landscape and advance your education. A barely-passed class is not the best way to do this. Sometimes it makes more sense from an educational point of view to withdraw from a course and re-take it later, when you are in a position to make the most of it.

A bad reason to withdraw from a course: 
--In high school I had all As, and the instructor told me the best I can hope to earn in this course is a B or C.
Withdrawal is for serious situations in which the integrity of your learning is at stake. Grade-gaming undermines the system, and cheapens the value of the degree.

If you are considering withdrawing from a course, please come talk to me.

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