College is known to be a time for students to explore academic interests, especially for first- and second-year students who have not yet decided on their major. As such, many students will enroll in classes as a way of figuring out if they wish to further pursue academic interests in that area of study. If they decide that it is not something they wish to do, they are able to drop the class from their schedule. However, the current deadline to drop a class in the College of Arts and Sciences does not allow for students to effectively explore different academic areas.
This year, classes started on Tuesday, Aug. 27, while the deadline to drop a class in the College was only two weeks later, on Sept. 10 — the same two-week deadline we see every semester. Allowing students only two weeks to decide whether or not to continue a class is not long enough, especially as grades for many classes are not really available until after this deadline. The School of Engineering already has a longer deadline — their drop deadline is October 15. The College needs to follow in the footsteps of the School of Engineering and extend this drop deadline to this later date, allowing students more time to decide if they want to keep a class on their schedule
Hunter Hess, a fellow Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily, wrote a column a few weeks ago about instituting a shopping week for classes, discussing how he realized that many of the classes he had signed up for were simply not for him. This is the experience that so many students at the University have, especially younger students who are still deciding on a major. Searching for what they want to do, they enroll in a variety of classes in different areas. We expect students to be able to explore interests in college and to make a future career path based on what academic areas spark their interest. In order to really allow for this, students must be able to sample a variety of different classes, which is only possible if we provide more time to explore a class before a student is required to decide on whether or not to drop it.
Moreover, many courses don’t have enough grades in the gradebook during the first two weeks to enable a student to gauge their academic performance in the class. In my own experience this year, there were only a few small homework grades in by this drop deadline, with most major exam or project grades coming later in the semester. If a student is attempting to decide whether they can handle the class and whether they are able to devote enough time to it with their schedule, they need more than two weeks of exposure to the material before making that judgement. Students may decide after the first exam that the class is not something they will be able to dedicate enough time to — however, they are not able to drop the class, as the drop deadline is before the first exam.
After the drop deadline passes, students do have the opportunity to get rid of a class on their schedule by withdrawing from the class within the first eight weeks of the semester. This, however, would show up negatively on a student’s transcript, which discourages many students from using this option. Students may decide to stay enrolled in a class in a field that they do not wish to pursue further simply because they do not want a “W” on their transcript. Remaining in these classes can have harmful effects on a student’s GPA and affect a student’s ability to devote time to other classes that are possibly of greater importance to a student’s future. Remaining enrolled in a class that a student has already decided against pursuing does not benefit the student or the University in any way.
Students should be encouraged by the University to seek out new paths and explore different academic areas — this early deadline only discourages academic exploration. Attending the first two weeks of a class does not provide a student with a good indication of what the rest of the semester may yield. The University is asking students to make a decision on a class that, after two weeks, may have only met on four occasions. We should be providing students with the tools necessary to make informed decisions on their majors and on their future career paths. Extending the deadline for dropping classes by a few more weeks would provide students with enough information to make these decisions about their future at the University.
Zack Pasciak is an Opinion Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.