Withdraw now or forever hold your peace

By: Lindsay Mulhollen

In order to stop students from quitting when the going gets tough, a new withdrawal policy has been put into effect beginning this semester. Multiple faculty members declined to comment on the policy change due to contract issues.

The new policy shortens the time window a student has to withdraw from a class. Before this new policy, students had until the 12th week of the semester to withdraw. Now students only have until the seventh week, 49th calendar day, of the semester. This semester a student will be unable to withdraw from a class after Oct. 9. (Classes that do not begin at the beginning of the semester or end before the end of the semester are considered to begin when the class meetings begin and end when the class meetings end.)

The new withdrawal policy also limits the number of classes that can be dropped. A student may not drop more than two courses before he or she has completed 32 credit hours and more than two courses before earning 64 credit hours.

Courses withdrawn before 32 credit hours will not count toward the two allowed withdrawals between 32 and 64 credit hours. If a student has withdrawn from more than two courses before 32 credits or four classes before 64 credits, he or she will not be able to register additional courses until they meet with their academic adviser. This part of the new policy does not apply to students enrolled before Fall 2011. Starting Fall 2013, it applies to every enrolled undergraduate student, including students who have not graduated prior to the start of the Fall 2013 semester.

The withdrawal policy comes from University rule 3359-20-05.1, decided upon by the Board of Trustees. All University rules are state regulations. University rules can be found online at the Office of General Counsel’s website at http://www.uakron.edu/ogc/.

Undergraduate students may not withdraw from the same course more than twice. If an attempt is made, the student will remain enrolled and will receive a grade at the end of the semester.

University of Akron Junior, Katy Warren, likes the change.

Warren stated that “It doesn’t give people time to slack off; either you put your work in like you’re supposed to and not waste your and the professor’s time, or you drop; seems fair enough to me. Maybe it’ll knock some sense into the people who feel like the first half of the semester revolves around partying and that they don’t need to study, like they’re in college to do.”

When a student withdraws from a class, the class appears on their academic transcript with “WD” listed instead of a grade. If students do not drop or withdraw from a class, they will receive a grade in that class. Students are responsible for determining how dropping or withdrawing from a class will affect them; withdrawals may affect financial aid, eligibility for on-campus employment and housing, athletic participation and eligibility for insurance. Dropping or withdrawing also will not prevent or reduce a misconduct penalty from occurring.

A retroactive withdrawal can be granted to a student who has had “unforeseen, documented extenuating medical or legal circumstances that he/she could not have reasonably expected.” A retroactive withdrawal request must be submitted within one calendar year. If a withdrawal is made, it addresses only academic changes to a student’s record; to receive back tuition and fees, a student must submit a separate appeal. For more information on refunds, students can look to University rule 3359-60-06.5.

The University’s past rule outlining the withdrawal policy used to allow a student to withdraw from a course from the 14th day of the semester to the midpoint of the semester with the signature of an adviser. After the midpoint until the 12th week of classes, a student could withdraw with written approval from both the instructor of the course and his or her adviser.

The dropping policy remains the same as the old rule: a student may drop a class via Zipline, with no consequence, up until the 14th calendar day of the semester. For the Fall 2011 semester, that date is Sunday, Sept. 4. Up to this point, if a class is dropped there will be no record of the course on the student’s academic transcript.

The changes to the rule have been made to help students stay on track and graduate on time. According to the website, The University of Akron takes the stance that “[s]tudents who withdraw on a regular basis often do not finish their programs and earn degrees.”

The University also explains that financial aid is often depleted too quickly by students that make frequent withdrawals. The thought is that potential employers and graduate schools will translate the many withdrawals of students as “when the going gets rough, I quit.”

Senior Ellyn Sjoquist does not see a reason to draw out the process any longer.

“Week seven is half the semester. Students know by then whether the class they’re in is relevant and worth their time and effort and if they have a likely chance of passing the class and receiving credit.” said Sjoquist.

Junior Corey Mikesell feels differently; he does not see the new policy as a positive change.

Mikesell stated, “I don’t see any particular merit to the abridgment of the dropping period. It will result in more failing grades being permanently emblazoned on student’s transcripts, which reflects negatively on the University and fails to produce more revenue.”

Junior Tom Corbo agrees. He feels the new withdrawal policy is a restrictive change.

“In classes where a professor has a low pass rate and your grade will depend on a test held later in the semester, being able to withdraw the 12th week is a godsend. In the first seven weeks of classes, homework is usually easier and tests usually cover less material than those held later in the semester.” said Corbo.

“If you have some sort of disabling situation, it’s good to know that you won’t hurt your record if you can’t finish your class,” Corbo added.

Exceptions may be made for “extraordinary non-academic reasons.” Students must get permission from the dean of their college by means of a written petition. Withdrawal requests that have been denied can be appealed to the office of the provost.

Students are urged to speak with their adviser for details on their degree granting college’s withdrawal policy; the policies may be stricter for the college in which the student is working toward a degree.

Dropping can be done on Zipline, but if there are any problems with either dropping or withdrawing, a student can seek help at Admissions on the first floor of Simmons Hall. Simmons is open Monday and Thursday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (except during University holidays and breaks, when the office closes at 5 p.m.) and Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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