October 31st marks the last day for instructor- and student-initiated withdrawals. It’s also your deadline for communicating with students who are not on track and possibly working out a productive plan for course continuation. Withdrawing a student results in a “W” on her transcript (as opposed to the possible “F” you foresee without significant improvement) and would not factor into her GPA.
There are multiple considerations when deciding whether to withdraw a student. Consider the following scenarios, options and implications.
What’s the scenario?
It’s October 30th and students should have completed roughly half of the coursework. You have one student who you are 99% sure will not pass the course. Consider these different scenarios:
- Despite her worthy best efforts, the student will not pass the course. She will definitely have to take it again if it’s required for her major.
- The student has experienced a personal catastrophe from which she will not academically recover by the end of the semester. She has had no control over this situation.
- The student enrolled in and paid for the course, but showed up only a few times–or not at all.
- The student showed up enough to fulfill the base attendance or participation requirements, but never put forth enough effort to earn a cumulative midterm grade over 20% (for example).
If you haven’t been able to come up with a mutually acceptable plan for the student to succeed, you can:
Withdraw her as an act of housekeeping for your own convenience, which will also let her know that she will not be able to complete the course, and that she will need to take it again if it’s required in her major.
You can leave the student enrolled in the course to ultimately receive an “F” on her transcript, which will affect her GPA and possibly her eligibility for future financial aid.
It’s important to make every effort to communicate with the student before withdrawing her from the course. UAF has a Freshman Early Warning system in place and eLearning sends out reminders every semester to double check your roster for students who have enrolled in your online course but have not contributed at all or whose presence in your course has dwindled significantly.
You may have a black and white approach to student withdrawals/failures, but if you don’t, consider some of these implications and options.
2014-2015 UAF Catalog:
- Withdrawal Policy – http://www.uaf.edu/catalog/current/admissions/registration.html
- Grading Options – http://www.uaf.edu/catalog/current/academics/regs1.html#Grading_Options