Number of class withdrawals on rise at UCF
In elementary school we are taught that "F" comes before "W," but for many college students they'd rather a "W" come before an "F."
The "W," which stands for withdraw, is being designated more and more on student report cards as withdrawal rates go up.
In the 2012-13 academic year there were 22,542 withdrawals and in the 2013-14 academic year there were 23,093, according to information provided by UCF spokeswoman Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala.
The three most frequently dropped courses of the 2012-13 academic year were Statistical Methods I with 412 withdrawals; Principles of Financial Accounting with 453 withdrawals; and College Algebra with 544.
For the 2013-14 academic year, the three most frequently dropped classes were Human Anatomy with 380 withdrawals; Statistical Methods I with 437 withdrawals; and College Trigonometry with 455, according to Kotala.
For a student to be eligible for grade forgiveness, he or she must withdraw before the withdrawal deadline. This semester's deadline was Oct. 27.
The math department, which had classes in the top spot for both years, declined to comment on what it is doing to combat its high withdrawal rates.
Statistical Methods I saw a small jump from the third-highest withdrawal rate in 2012-13 to second in 2013-14.
David Nickerson, professor and chair of the Department of Statistics, explained how he tries to ensure student success.
"I put my best instructors [in Statistical Methods I] because I know that it generates a lot of student credit hours for the department and we need to do as good a job as we can," Nickerson said.
He also mentioned that the syllabi for the course are very detailed. They lay out, on very certain terms, what is expected of the student and what his or her grade will be based on.
"I'm sure by being admitted to UCF, [students] are certainly capable of doing well in the class and why they don't I can speculate: Maybe they don't take it seriously, maybe they don't do the homework or maybe they wait to do the homework till the last minute," Nickerson said. "This is the sort of class [where] you have to stay on top of it every day."
The next step in preparing students, he said, would be for his department to have its own tutoring lab to help students, adding he doesn't want students to have to retake this course.
If a student withdraws from a course, he or she will have to eventually retake it, but there may be other repercussions as well.
"There can be consequences when students withdraw from classes, i.e., Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) warning, probation or cancellation; loss of Bright Futures scholarship or repayment requirement and/or Return to Title IV calculation," Inez Ford, associate director of the Office of Student Financial Assistance, said in an email.
Institutions are required to recalculate Bright Futures awards when a student withdraws or drops one or more classes after the add/drop/swap period ends.
Students whose awards are already disbursed will owe the funds back to UCF for classes that are withdrawn or dropped.
"In most cases, withdrawals do not affect Florida Prepaid Plan payments. When a student withdraws from a course, he or she remains liable for the cost of the course. Therefore, we do not send money back to Florida Prepaid in these cases," said UCF spokesman Chad Binette in an email.
There are special circumstances in which a student might receive a late drop or a medical withdrawal, both of which cancel the tuition and fees on the student's account.
In this case, UCF would refund the money to Florida Prepaid because there are no charges to be paid.
Courses with the most withdrawals
College Algebra: 544
Financial Accounting: 453
Statistical Methods: 412
College Trigonometry: 362
Organic Chemistry: 325
College Trigonometry: 455
Statistical Methods: 437
Human Anatomy: 380
Financial Accounting: 315
College Algebra: 313