As a professor, and as dean, I’ve found that students are frequently confused about how dropping courses works, and this sometimes results in unexpected Fs that lower the GPA and can be extremely problematic for scholarships, etc. In this post, I provide a brief discussion of Rowan policies regarding dropping/withdrawing from a class.
Drop/Add period – The first week of the semester is a drop/add period for registration. Ideally, this allows the student to attend each class a minimum of one time, so that he/she can get the syllabus and make a final decision about the course. Courses dropped during this period are not reflected on the transcript. However, it is important to realize that if a course is dropped during the drop/add period, and this results in less than 12 hours of registered courses, it will affect full-time student status.
Withdrawal period – From the end of the first week of the term to mid-semester, students can withdraw from a class using Form A (available online via the Registrar’s office or in Savitz hall). The form does have a space to indicate the reason for withdrawal and must be signed by both the student and the instructor. If a course is dropped during this period, a W is noted on the transcript. Courses withdrawn from do count toward the two times that a course is permitted to be repeated.
Withdraw Pass/Fall period – To withdraw after mid-semester, the reason(s) for the request must be more significant and the form must be signed by both the instructor and the department chairperson (as well as the student). Professors do not “have to” grant withdrawals at this point. If they do, they will indicate either a passing (WP) or failing (WF) grade. The grade is calculated as of the day the form is completed, not as of the day the student stopped working/attending. So, if a student stops completing work in the third week of the term, but doesn’t get the withdrawal form until the 9th week, he/she will have received zero grades on all assignments between week 3 and 9 and is likely to get a WF. WP/WF grades do not affect GPA, but are noted on the transcript and are counted in the course repeat maximum.
Exceptional Circumstance Withdrawal Period – During the last four weeks of the semester, withdrawals are considered an exception. Reasons for withdrawal must go beyond poor grades, and should represent circumstances beyond the control of the student. Generally, reasons for withdrawal during this period will be similar to the reasons that might be appropriate for a course Incomplete, but other factors prevent an Incomplete from being workable. At this point, withdrawal forms need to be signed by the professor, department chairperson and dean. Grades are entered as WP or WF. Students who are withdrawing in the last four weeks due to exceeding the maximum number of course absences will be given a grade of WF, unless consultation with the Dean of Students indicates that the majority of the absences were excused under university policy, in which case the grade may be altered to a W.
So, there you have it, course withdrawal in a nutshell. It’s always best to withdraw from a course as soon as it becomes clear that it is necessary. Waiting never has a positive impact on the student, the instructor, or the other students in a class.