Stop Before You Drop | Dropping classes not always the best option

By JONATHAN GIBSON, Ranger Reporter:

As these first few weeks have passed, the number of students in some classes has gradually decreased.

What  is  this   bizarre phenomenon? Many of these students have dropped their classes. Mass media major Pam Cerros recently withdrew from one of her classes.

“Sometimes life just has a way of happening and we can’t control it,” Cerros said. “I dropped because life just came up, and sometimes we have to pace ourselves with how we want to continue.”

Many students are unaware of regulations regarding dropping classes. According to section 51.907 of the Texas Education Code, students attending Texas institutions of higher education cannot withdraw from more than six courses through their entire college career.

This “drop rule” includes all classes in all Texas institutions. For instance, students who drop six classes at Amarillo College and transfer to any institution in the state of Texas would have used up all the allowable drops.

Recently, if a student wanted to drop a course, he or she could simply go online and drop it.

Now, students who want to drop must get permission from their professors. They have to discuss their situation with the professor, and are only allowed to drop the course after getting the OK.

This makes it more complex for students who are forced into awkward situations of explaining to their professors why they disliked the class.

Nevertheless, there was a reason for this requirement, Tina Babb, associate registrar said.

“We put this into place because there were a lot of students that were dropping classes due to work schedule conflicts, or thinking they had a worse grade than they did,” said Babb. “This way, that conversation happens between the instructor and the students. It’s our way of helping to increase our retention and save students from dropping a class when they may not have needed to.”

Lesley Ingham, professor of public speaking and honors coordinator, favors the new process.

“I think it’s good, because if there’s a way to save that grade and that experience, the professor could probably work with the student,” Ingham said.

Another new rule is the administrative drop rule, which went into effect this fall.

Students who do not attend a class at all during the first weeks of the semester may now find that they have been withdrawn and cannot get back in the class. This rule only pertains to the beginning of each semester.

Once the official census date marking the end of the add/drop period has passed, students who don’t attend class will not be dropped automatically.

Instead, they can only withdraw with the approval of their professors at Amarillo College.

Students who assume that not attending a class means they have dropped it will be surprised when their transcript shows a failing grade.

Dropping classes may also cost students money.  “If financial aid funds have been awarded, students may have to pay back some of the money they have been given,” Kelley Prater, financial aid director, said. “Failure to pay back that balance could prevent students from registering for future courses.”

Prater also noted that students who fail all of their classes may also have to pay back some of their financial aid money.

“It’s very important for students to complete the courses that they register for so they don’t have to owe any funding back,” Prater said.

Another consideration is that students who receive financial aid must complete more than 60 percent of the classes they register for in order to continue to receive funding.

Dropping classes impacts the ability to meet that goal, and students who fall below this pace of completion may end up on suspension from receiving financial aid funds.

Although dropping a class does have significant consequences, both students and faculty members said that sometimes withdrawing from a class is the right decision.

“Sometimes we think we can handle more than we actually can take,” said Cerros, noting that next semester she will re-enroll in the class she dropped this semester.

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