Admissions and Standards Committee


Motion to Limit the Number of Ws

Motion:

The policy on withdraws is replaced with the policy below.

1332.10 Dropping Classes and Voluntary Withdrawal

A. Withdrawal Periods and Grades of W and WF

1. During registration:
When the registration system is open to students at the beginning of each term, students may drop or add classes using GoSOLAR. When a class is dropped during this period, no grade is recorded and no record of the student's being enrolled in the class appears on the student's transcript. Registration ends at the end of the first week of classes.

2. During the second week of classes:
During the second week of classes faculty have the discretion to request to add or drop students from classes. Factors such as space availability and health and safety regulations may apply to such requests. When a class is dropped during this period, no grade is recorded and no record of the student's being enrolled in the class appears on the student's transcript.

3. After registration and before the midpoint of the term:
During this period, students may withdraw from a class or classes using GoSOLAR . Students will receive a grade of W or WF for any class dropped during this period depending on whether or not they have exceeded their limit of withdrawals with a grade of W. Specifically, students will automatically be awarded a W if they have not exceeded their limit and a WF if they have. Grades of W and WF appear on the student’s transcript. (Note: A grade of WF is treated as an F for GPA calculation purposes.)

4. After the midpoint of the term and until two weeks before the last day of classes:
During this period, students may withdraw from a class or classes using GoSOLAR. Students will automatically receive a grade of WF for any class dropped during this period. (Note: A grade of WF is treated as an F for GPA calculation purposes.)

5. During the two weeks before the last day of classes:
During the two weeks before the last day of scheduled classes for the term voluntary withdrawals cannot occur.

B. Limits on Withdrawals with a Grade of W.

1. Students are allowed to withdraw with a grade of W a maximum of six times in their undergraduate careers at Georgia State.

2. The limit on withdrawals does not apply if a student withdraws from all classes during a term before the midpoint. However, students are only allowed to withdraw from all classes prior to the midpoint twice without having their withdrawals count against the limit. Students who withdraw from all classes a third or subsequent time will automatically receive a grade of WF in their classes if they have reached their limit of Ws.

3. It is possible that a student will withdraw from more than one class in a particular semester and not have enough Ws left to use a W in all those classes. In that case, classes will be awarded a W based on the date and time the student initiated the withdrawal from that class. For example, if a student had taken five Ws in their career at Georgia State and then withdrew from three of the four classes in which the student was enrolled, the student’s sixth W allowed would be assigned to the class from which the student withdrew first. The student would receive a WF in the other two classes. In these cases, students may make a request to the Office of the Registrar to shift the W from one class to another. Such requests must be made no later than the end of the semester after the semester in which the student withdrew from the classes. (Whether a student is enrolled in the semester after the semester in which the student withdrew from the classes does not change this time limit.) Students may not shift Ws between semesters.

4. The following sorts of withdrawals do not count against the limit on withdrawals with a grade of W.

a. Hardship withdrawals (see Section 1332.40).
b. Grades of WF (withdrawal failing).
c. Grade of WM (withdrawal military).
d. Withdrawals taken in semesters before Fall 2006.
e. Withdrawals taken at other institutions.

5. This policy applies to all degree seeking undergraduate students. It does not apply to non-degree students (such as postbaccalaureate students).

6. The policy is effective Fall 2006.

Note: The motion ends the current practice of allowing a WF grade when a student withdraws before the midpoint. The withdrawal rules are very complex and the workload of implementing them is significant. This proposal would simplify the rule and eliminate the tedious process of getting a W or WF grade from instructors. Very few professors give WFs when they have the option of giving a W or WF.

Rationale:

Why Have a Limit on Ws?

1. It will help students graduate.
Ga State’s graduate rate is 40% but, given the quality of our student body, it should be 55%.

a. Over 90% of the students who do graduate take 6 or fewer Ws. This means that, on average, students who take a lot of Ws do not graduate.

b. Institutions with limits on Ws usually have higher graduation rates than one would predict based on the academic ability of incoming students.

c. Students who take a lot of Ws are certain to lose their financial aid because all financial aid programs have a limit on the number of hours they will pay for.

d. A study of over 12,000 student transcripts conducted by the National Center for Educational Statistics concludes that “one of the most degree-crippling features of undergraduate histories is an excessive volume of courses from which the student withdrew...” (Clifford Adelman, The Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion From High School Through College, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education, 2006, p. xxii.)

2. It will help students get into courses.
Students are currently using the W policy to "course shop" and this is bad for other students. For example, a student may register 6 courses knowing that she will withdraw from one of them. When that student withdraws from the course, it is too late for another student to enter. A significant part of the student frustration caused when they cannot get into the classes they want is caused by the course shopping. If students took only courses they planned to stay in, there would be more seats available for all students.

3. It will help students learn more.
Imagine that Jane and Malcolm both have a GPA of 3.5 but Jane has taken 10 Ws because whenever she sees that she might get a low grade, she withdraws from the course. Malcolm has only 2 Ws. He has stuck it out and worked hard to pull up his grades when he sees that they might be lower than he wants. Malcolm has learned more than Jane. He is 24 credits closer to graduating.

4. It makes GPA a better reflection of academic ability.
Malcolm’s superior academic performance doesn't show in his GPA. (This is why graduate schools, law schools, medical schools, etc. review the transcripts of applicants and discount the GPAs of students who take a lot of Ws.) Limiting the number of Ws a student can take would make Jane either learn more (if she wants a GPA as high as Malcolm’s) or her GPA will be lower than Malcolm’s.


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Revised 4/19/00