Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Deciding If You Should Withdraw From a Course

No Win Situation
Midterm grades are in and things aren't going so well in that one class.  You got a deficiency report and an email from the Advising Center and you are wondering if you should stick it out or drop the class.  The decision to drop a course at this point in the semester is not to be made lightly.  You've come so far and probably committed a significant quantity of time and tuition dollars to this course.  You might be concerned about your GPA but equally worried about the impact of a "W" on you future goals.  The last day to withdraw from a course is NOVEMBER 10 so you can't put off a decision much longer...what's the right choice?

Know the Facts
Earning an "F" or a "D" can have a serious and detrimental impact on your GPA.  If your overall GPA falls below a 2.0, you will be placed on academic probation and potentially face dismissal.  While you can reverse the impact on your GPA by retaking the course in a future semester (at The University of Scranton only-not at another institution), the first grade will always remain on your academic transcript.  You do not earn credit for any course in which you earn an "F".   If you have pre-medical aspirations, you should know that some medical schools will average your grades for all attempts.  That means if you get an "F" the first time you take a course and earn an "A" the second time, they will regard your grade as a "C". 

A "W" does not impact GPA.  While it also remains on your academic transcript forever, it will not impact your academic standing and is generally not viewed as negatively as an "F" or a "D".  Taking a "W" might not be the right choice for everyone but it can sometimes be the only way to make the best of a bad situation.

Deciding What to Do
So should you drop or stick it out?  There is no easy answer but there are some steps you can follow to help you arrive at a decision:

  • Talk to your professor.  Don't skip this step even if you are worried that he or she is unapproachable or that the meeting will be awkward.  Talking to your professor can help you determine exactly where you stand in the course.  At this meeting you should be trying to figure out the answers to questions like:  what exactly is my grade right now?  What is contributing to my deficiency at this point?  (test or quiz grades? attendance? projects?)  What is the maximum grade I can receive in this course?  Is it realistic to think I can pass?  If I remain in the course, what strategies can I employ to maximize my efforts?
  • Talk to an advisor.  We can help you sort out the facts and weigh your options.  There is a lot of information to consider.  For example, for some courses, you only have to pass.  In some, you must earn a "C" or better.  In that case, hanging on for a "D" doesn't make sense.  We can also help you determine what your options are for repeating a course.  If you decide to remain in the class, we can connect you with resources to make your semester more successful.  If you decide to drop, you can start the process in our office.  
What do I do if I want to drop?
 You will need to pick up a drop form and talk to an advisor first.  Then you will need to obtain your instructor's signature.  Finally, you will bring the form to Mrs. Butler in STT 208.  All of this can take a little while, so don't wait until the last minute!

 Katie Robinson
CAS Academic Advisor

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