Dropping classes; what a “W” means on your transcripts


A sign instructing students of the services provided in the computer cubicles in the eServices building at American River College on Sept. 24, 2018. (Photo by Tracy Holmes)

Tracy Holmes

Not knowing the deadlines for dropping classes at American River College can pose problems for students.

Jason Ralphs, ARC’s Records and Admissions Supervisor, explained how not knowing when deadlines are and understanding progress versus grade point average can affect students.

“I think the big thing is not knowing the deadlines. Academically, the ‘W’ notation doesn’t impact your [grade point average], what it does impact is progress,” Ralphs said. “Basically there is a measure of progress that is taken as well as a measure of GPA. … Progress is a different thing. Progress looks at course completion, specifically successful course completion.”

According to the ARC website, Sept. 7 was the last day to drop in the fall semester classes for a full refund of enrollment fees. This date coincides with the Beaver Bookstore’s return policy. The bookstore asks for proof of a dropped class before they will issue a refund. Sept. 9 was the last day to drop with no ‘W’ notation.

Nov. 20 is the last day to drop full semester classes with a ‘W’ grade, which means the student will have withdrawn from the course. This will affect a student’s financial aid and the ‘W’ is placed on their permanent academic record. The dates to drop are different for 6 week and 8 week classes.

Dropping a class online can be tough. There are steps to take on the ARC web page if a student is trying to drop a class.

The first step is to log in using your student ID and password at the Student Center. Click “add or drop classes.” Click the term you are dropping and then click “continue.” Click the “select” option next to the class being dropped. Click “drop selected class/es.”

“There are a number of issues students can face,” Ralphs said. “We just switched it to a different system for eServices, continuing students may have a difficult time finding where to drop classes if it’s their first time doing that.”

Pamela Smith is a music major, who has been at ARC for a few semesters and understands dropping a course a little better now.

“I dropped a class because I wanted to take something else. I did it in the first week so I dropped with no penalty which is the best option. … I changed classes because the class I dropped, the book was really expensive,” Smith said.

Checking RateMyProfessors is another approach. Robert Cordova is a business major, his experience with dropping has been much different. Cordova said he likes the RateMyProfessors option so that he doesn’t have to drop classes at all.

“RateMyProfessors is a useful tool to use for more challenging courses. I use [the site] prior to choosing classes, it may help any student survive the semester,” Cordova said. “If I don’t end up using it and I don’t like the professor, I will drop the class.”

Smith keeps a college printed planner and calendar to remind her of the drop dates.

“I would rather not have a ‘W’,” Smith said. “I keep my planner and know my drop dates. The [planner] calendar that the school hands out helps me a lot, all the dates are in here.”

A ‘W’ notation can have ramifications on a student’s academic progress, Ralphs explained.

“If you fail a class or get a ‘W’ in a class, it’s not going to be considered progress. If you drop below 50 percent in a semester, you get put on progress probation,” Ralphs said. “If you are on academic or progress probation for two consecutive terms, you lose eligibility for priority registration and the California Community College Promise Grant, formerly the Board of Governors Fee Waiver or BOG Waiver.”