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Rutgers community weighs in on withdrawing from courses after add/drop period, 'W' grade

Withdrawing from a course after the add/drop period generally does not look bad on a student's transcript, says Rutgers—New Brunswick's undergraduate registrar. – Photo by Samantha Cheng

Approximately less than three percent of undergraduate courses at Rutgers—New Brunswick have been withdrawn from after the add/drop period this semester, said Juli Hibbard, who is in charge of undergraduates at the University's Registrar's Office.

Hibbard discussed what withdrawing from courses after the add/drop period looks like from an administrative perspective, and several students shared their experiences regarding withdrawing this semester. 

Withdrawing from a course, which results in a “W” grade on a student’s transcript, generally does not look bad unless the student has withdrawn a significant amount of times, she said.

“W's are not punitive grades, so that means they don't factor into the student's GPA,” Hibbard said. “We've been told at Rutgers by graduate and professional schools that they do not view the W's as a problem, unless there are repeated multiple W's every semester. Or, if students keep withdrawing from the same class, so they see more of a pattern, then they might look at it a little bit more closely.”

She also said that students who receive financial aid and who are planning on withdrawing from a course should follow up with an academic advisor to ensure they are still meeting satisfactory academic progress. Otherwise, they could potentially experience issues with their academic plan if they are not completing enough requirements.

Victoria Barrell, a Rutgers Business School junior, said that she withdrew from one class this semester because she knew she had enough credits to still graduate on time by taking the course at a later date. She said it was not necessary to keep in her schedule since she has a lot going on at this time.

“I was nervous about it on my transcript, and future employers, if they look at my transcript, what they would think,” she said. “But at the same time, I'm not applying too close to (graduate) school straight after graduation. I think I want to eventually, but maybe work a little first and then go. So I feel like if I were going to (graduate) school right after graduation, I would be a little nervous. But I also only have one on my transcript.”

Regarding her experience of withdrawing, Barrell said it was slightly stressful. She said she wishes the period to withdraw was longer, as she did not receive her first midterm grades back when she had to drop the class, making her feel rushed into the decision.

Maggie Hosler, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, said that she withdrew from one course this semester because it was her first time balancing six courses in her schedule, which ultimately became too difficult to continue.

“The workload was a lot,” she said. “This class was extremely time consuming and hard. So I dropped out of it because it was affecting my other grades. And, I realized I don't need it for anything, and it fulfills nothing.”

Hosler said that while she was nervous to withdraw from the course because she believes there is a stigma around doing so, she believes that when applying to jobs, they take into consideration why one withdrew from a course. She also said that while making the choice to withdraw should not be taken lightly, the underlying stigma should not make it seem like it is as big of a deal as it does.

Barrel said that she understands the reasoning behind the withdrawal period taking place after the add/drop week, as it is preventative of students abusing the ability to drop courses. But, she thinks students should have more flexibility in what would go on their transcript if they need to make a decision before having enough grades in for a course.

“I think that for people who are dropping classes because they're nervous about, you know, getting a bad grade or that they're going to fail the class for them, I feel like they definitely should be allowed to have until they get their first grades back before the period ends,” she said. “Or at least there should be some type of extension for that."

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