Dealing with the drop date

Photo by Joey Cerone

The decision to drop a class is not an easy one. Dropping a class can cause complications with course hours, and it leaves a telltale “W” on a transcript. Last Friday, Oct. 11, was the last day to drop a class or to change its grading mode to pass-fail. At the end of the eighth week of class,  students who still had not received their first midterm grades were forced to make this difficult decision. In order to cater to these students, Tech should postpone the drop date by a week or two will help them make a more informed decision.

Students drop classes for several reasons, including unsatisfactory grades, incompatible professors and changes in interest. In order to have enough information to confidently drop a class, a student needs to have a good idea of how well he or she is doing. Unfortunately, by the eighth week of class, several professors have not yet returned grades from their first exams. Worse still, some professors have not even held their first exams. Having a later drop date will reduce the uncertainty involved in such a significant and common decision, and it will also lead to lower failing rates in classes.

Reducing the issue to a need for earlier instructor feedback may seem logical, but it does not address the whole issue. In classes such as Physics 2, the curriculum is rigidly defined and follows an almost identical pattern every semester. It is unfair to ask professors, who may already be busy with research, to modify their class schedules just to preserve the current drop date.

Instead, pushing the drop date back by one or two weeks would give professors more flexibility with assigning and grading midterms. It is also unlikely that a later drop date would cause the drop rate to increase or decrease significantly.

Thus, allowing the students an extra week or two carries with it various benefits, both to professors and to students.