New Policy Helps Drop-aholics Put Down the ‘W’

    Ben Holm/Guardian

    STUDENT LIFE — The beginning of every new academic quarter at UCSD often gives a revived sense of drive and ambition to students. But sometimes, when ambitions are set loose to run wild, we find ourselves a little click-happy on WebReg, taking course loads so heavy that they are sure to be halved, or even quartered, in the coming weeks. Some take action early on; others, however, hold out until the very end, relying on the university’s “Withdrawal” policy to bail them out.

    While the Academic Senate Committee on Educational Policy’s recent adoption of a more stringent regulation regarding “W” marks on undergraduate transcripts is a step in the right direction, additional measures must be taken to comprehensively address excessive late withdrawals from enrolled classes. After over a year of deliberation, the committee has created an amendment to the university’s enrollment and withdrawal policy that restricts students from receiving a “W” in a certain class more than once, aiming to not only encourage students to think twice about their class load at the beginning of each quarter, but also free up waitlists from students who repeatedly enroll in a specific class but drop at the last minute and receive a “W” grade.

    However, while this modification to university enrollment and drop policy is a step in the right direction, addressing some of the problems pertaining to student withdrawals from classes, it is certainly not a final solution. While the policy does free up student waitlists, it does not facilitate key interaction between students and professors that can be crucial in preventing excessive course withdrawals in the future.

    A drop policy similar to that of UC Berkeley’s, which requires students to fill out a petition and receive approval from the course professor, would not only force students to think twice about their motivations for both adding and withdrawing from a course, but also enable professors to deny requests to students who have repeatedly enrolled and dropped their classes.

    The present enrollment and drop system available online via Tritonlink may be convenient, but the inclusion of professor approval in the withdrawal process would serve as a strong deterrent to excessive dropping and improve the quality of undergraduate education through some good old-fashioned face time.

    Each quarter, undergraduate courses that place an emphasis on student participation, interaction and discussion suffer from uncommitted enrollees who repeatedly bite off more than they can chew by overloading on classes and dropping at crunch-time without any serious consequence.

    Not only does this practice deprive students who would have completed the course a seat in the lecture hall, but also interferes with the educational experience of those already enrolled, as discussion groups become smaller and lab partners disappear during ninth week.

    Thus, it becomes imperative that any additional changes to the university’s add and drop policies must force students to further evaluate their course loads at the beginning of each quarter and through their academic careers. It would be in our own best interest — and the interests of our peers and professors — to realize that a commitment made to any course is not all the invisible, light-hearted matter it seems to be on TritonLink, and that any course addition or withdrawal is a serious decision that shouldn’t be left to a whim.

    If college is to be an experience that serves to better prepare us for the working world, tightened withdrawal restrictions are a much-needed wake-up call. Not only do such regulatory policies serve to purify the classroom experience, but they also provide us with a new, more realistic sense of responsibility, pushing us to grasp the seriousness of our academic commitments and the consequences that will result if such policies are broken. In the professional world, much like the academic one, biting of more than we can chew can have negative repercussions that affect everyone involved.

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