W: The ‘Get out of Jail’ Free Card

Ashley Chang

The deadline to withdrawal from a 16-week class with a “W” notation is approaching. To some, a “W” on their transcripts rings similarly to a scarlet letter, tainting their reputation as students. For others, it is merely a “get out of jail free” card that is used too liberally and without hesitation.

Students who voluntarily choose not to complete a course and withdraw will receive a permanent “W” on their transcripts. Students will not receive class credit, nor will it affect the grade point average, but it may look unkindly when trying to transfer.

The downfall of the economy has brought more students into community colleges while decreasing the number of classes available.

When the fall semester began, classes were filled to capacity and walking in to add was nearly impossible. Instructors were forced to turn away students, one after the other, telling them every seat was taken and everyone on the roll was accounted for.

As we conquered midterms and essay after essay, we can’t help but notice our fellow students dropping like flies. Empty seats plague the once filled and crowded rooms. Project partners lost forever.

Students drop their classes for many reasons. It could be due to health, family, or financial problems. For many, it’s an easy decision: drop the class or fail.

Many colleges, such as Cal State Northridge and Cal State Fullerton, do not allow students to drop their classes after three weeks into the semester. It not only teaches students to be more responsible in making decisions, but also trains them to persevere and work toward a particular goal.

Allowing more than 11 weeks for a student to drop a class is not only a waste of resources, but also a false representation of the real world.

Why have numerous classes, all teaching the same subject, but with only a handful of students in each room?

Many classes were labeled “CLOSED” by the time willing students could even register for them. Now, the same classes are half empty and not being utilized.

Not allowing students to drop with a “W,” with an exception to certain situations, will prevent students from making hasty decisions when registering for classes.

We will take the time to contemplate whether we truly need this particular class and if efforts will be made to complete it.

Dropping a class could no longer be used as a crutch when the going gets tough.

Allowing students to give up so easily is only a disservice to us. Teach us to work harder through our mistakes. Show us that putting in the effort, whether we have faltered in the past or not, will not come without reward in the end.

If all else fails and if students are not encouraged to work through their classes, knowing they will receive an “F” rather than a “W” will definitely get the motors running.
Yes, we are adults. Yes, we are capable of making our own decisions, but a little push towards a stronger work ethic will only empower students in the future.

We will know that giving up should be the last alternative. Students will see that accomplishing a task, such as passing a class that was once perceived as impossible, is a challenge that can be overcome.

Life does not give many “get out of jail free” cards. Success cannot be had with the luck of drawing the right “community chest” or through chance. Rather, it is done through hard work, determination, and most importantly, commitment.

In learning such skills now, regardless of the medium in which it is taught, students will learn the thrill of passing “GO” and the reward of a job well done.