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The Daily Tar Heel

Drop period could be shortened

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

That’s the mindset that members of the Faculty Executive Committee share about the University’s course dropping policy — but a recent proposal by the UNC-system Board of Governors suggests a different opinion.

The Board of Governors has proposed a systemwide limit of 10 days for students to drop a class, which would override UNC’s current eight-week period.

“We’re doing a good job,” said committee member Greg Copenhaver. “We should work to protect our autonomy.”

Committee members said they believe the eight-week policy is sufficient for students to get feedback from instructors and make informed decisions on whether to drop a class.

Following a 2004 study on retention rates, UNC lengthened its drop period from six weeks to eight weeks.

When recreated in 2010, the study showed that course retention rates had risen five percentage points, proving that the extended eight-week period was effective, said Bobbi Owen, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Owen said the drop rate has remained steady at about 6 percent per semester.

Bearing that data in mind, committee members said they unanimously opposed the Board of Governor’s proposal.

Committee chairwoman Jan Boxill said two weeks is not enough time for students to receive feedback on their courses and make informed decisions.

She added many courses might not have had a graded assignment in the first two weeks.

If the system’s proposal is passed, students who wish to no longer be in a class after the two-week period would have to withdraw from the course. A withdrawal is documented on a student’s transcript.

Committee members said they worry that if withdrawals are marked on transcripts, students might be less explorative and adventurous when registering for classes.

Members added that since more than 60 percent of UNC students enroll in graduate school within four years of graduation, students will also be more likely to want to avoid any blemishes on their academic records.

Committee member Shielda Rodgers, who works in the School of Nursing, said that in her experience with graduate school admissions, withdrawals can be detrimental to an applicant.

“If we see a lot of withdrawals, that is a red flag and does not look good for the application process,” Rodgers said.

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