Many schools have two drop deadlines for their students. My college employs a two-deadline system. If you drop a class before the first deadline, your name is expunged from the course roster and no notation is made on your school transcript. After that deadline, however, dropping a class causes a notation of W (for “withdrawal”) to appear on your transcript. After the second drop deadline, however, you cannot drop at all. You simply vanish without a trace nor do you get a W. You must instead get an actual letter grade that will be averaged into your GPA.
Students tend not to like W, but it's better than D or F. There are always a few students, however, who manage to avoid learning anything about grading policies and drop deadlines. Earlier this term, a colleague in my math department received a frantic e-mail from a student who did not grasp the significance of W.
That's a good one. How could someone who was “in” his calculus class have a W-for-withdrawal notation on her transcript? The professor was happy to provide his student with an explanation:
Sent: Mon 30-Apr-07 2:21 PM
Subject: Urgent Question
I am in your calculus class. I was looking at my unofficial transcript and I noticed that I am receiving a W in the course. Could you e-mail me ASAP and let me know why this is?
See? A simple and complete answer to the student's perplexed question. If you don't attend for a month, the instructor drops your ass from the class. Please note that, as a caring educator, my colleague refrained from pointing out that W in this case also stood for sadly clueless.
Sent: Mon 30-Apr-07 4:06 PM
Subject: RE: Urgent Question
You got a W for the class because you aren't in it any more. My last record of you being in class is from February. It is common for instructors to drop students who stop attending.
W is clueless! W is absent without leave! W is a failure!
Did I remember to mention that this post is not at all political?