UTD changes drop policy

Next fall, dropping a class won’t be so easy.

The current drop policy allows students to drop classes with a “W” on their transcript until the 14th week, but the new policy won’t allow any drops for academic reasons after the ninth week of class.

“It’s going to be a shift for those who are so used to being able to wait, because the consequences get more intense,” said Cynthia Jenkins, director of undergraduate advising. “(The new drop policy) is discouraging a casual attitude about dropping so we fill seats with students who intend to see the class through its completion.”

Changes are also being made to the way dropped classes are recorded on a student’s transcript.

Under the new policy, if a student drops between the fifth and ninth weeks the grade listed on his or her transcript will either be “WP” indicating the student was passing when they dropped the course or “WF” indicating a failing grade.

“Now that we’ve grown, classes are closing and we really need to try and reduce the number of students who try a class and when they don’t do well, drop,” Jenkins said. “A rigorous drop policy will discourage that type of thing.”

All classes dropped after the start of the term will require an academic advisor’s signature. Classes dropped before census day will not be reflected on a student’s transcript, while classes dropped between census day and the fourth week will result in a “W” transcript grade.

The new policy was decided by the Council of Undergraduate Education and passed by the Council for Educational Policy and Faculty Senate last fall.

“We had a very liberal drop policy … that had lived on from the early days of the university,” said Michael Coleman, dean of undergraduate studies and associate provost. “It was so students could try new classes and new disciplines. They could stay in the class virtually all semester without hurting their academic record.”

But that drop policy had not been re-assessed since UTD’s change to a four-year university, Coleman said.

“A&M and (UT) Austin allow three drops during (a student’s) career,” Coleman said. “Our policy is still not as restrictive as theirs.”

Compared to other UT System schools, UTD’s new drop policy closely resembles UT Austin’s deadlines, while UT Arlington’s policy is similar UTD’s previous policy.

“It requires a little more accountability (by students),” said Sophie Rutenbar, SGA vice president. “It raises the standards and pushes us more towards a tier-one university.”

Rutenbar added that the SGA discussed the new drop policy in a senate meeting but said nobody showed strong opposition.

But some students feel it impedes on their freedom.

“We should be able to make our own decisions,” said Thomas Elliott, junior interdisciplinary studies major. “If we drop a lot of classes then we’ll have a lot of W’s on our transcript and that’s still going to look suspicious.”

Elliott added that he understood the decision, but said he still feels the purpose of dropping a class is so you don’t have a failing grade on your transcript.

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