Students: One week not long enough to make class withdrawal decisions
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct inaccuracies.
By the time Precious Jennings decided a German course was a bad fit for her, Central Michigan University’s one-week dropped course refund period already passed.
“Students are not able to figure out if they want a class in one week,” said Jennings, a Warren freshman. “I think the first month should be a grace period.”
This semester, students have withdrawn from around 200 classes without receiving any kind of refund. By the March 28 withdrawal deadline that number will likely be somewhere near 2,365 classes, which was last semester’s total, according to the Registrar’s office.
As most classes equate to three credit hours, that total adds up to an average of 7,095 credit hours dropped without a refund last semester, according to Registrar Karen Hutslar. One in-state undergraduate credit hour costs $374. Students paid more than $2.65 million for classes they quit without receiving credit.
Despite the numbers, Hutslar said the adding, dropping and withdrawing rules are effective.
“We haven’t found a reason to make a change,” she said. “Having extra time would be helpful, but we think it is still adequate.”
Students who withdraw from classes during the first 10 weeks receive a "W" on their transcripts. After the first 10 weeks, students who drop a course with a failing grade will receive an "E."
Exceptions include “extenuating circumstances,” like a university error, and classes that meet only once a week.
Winter classes started Monday, Jan. 13, and students had until Friday, Jan. 17 to drop a class and receive a complete refund.
Many of the major colleges in Michigan are more lenient than CMU when it comes to allowing students to drop courses with some sort of refund.
Student Government Association President Marie Reimers said she found the adding and dropping system a little frustrating. She did not have enough time to meet with an advisor to talk about her schedule before choosing it, she said.
“A longer drop/add period would not be bad,” she said. “If students are interested, they can come to me and hopefully we can make a change.”
Garret Duffany, a Brighton junior, said it would be a good idea to extend the refund period so students could see whether they liked the class. Duffany said he withdrew from one class at the midway point of the semester because he did not care for the professor.
“I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get a refund, but I decided to bite the bullet,” Duffany said.
Even though students wish the class drop deadline was longer, Hutslar said the deadline makes practical sense.
“We want students to decide (their classes) in the first week,” Hutslar said. “It gives students the opportunity to add classes that others decide to drop.”
Hutslar added there have been 321 students so far who have filled out drop appeal forms after the drop deadline has passed. The Registrar’s Office reviews the appeals and looks for circumstances that warrant a refund after deadline. Hutslar said most of the appeals have been and are usually approved.
How other Michigan universities give out withdrawal refunds
Michigan State University fully refunds students who drop their class by Jan. 31, more than three weeks after classes start, according to the MSU Registration Office. In addition, MSU students have until the midway point of the semester to withdraw from a class without a grade being recorded.
Grand Valley State University allows students seven days to drop a class with a full refund, according to the GVSU Registrar’s Office. The university offers a 75 percent refund to students who withdraw by Jan. 31.
Saginaw Valley State University gives a full refund to students who drop a class within five days after the start of the semester, according to the SVSU Office of the Registrar. Students have until Feb. 7 to withdraw and get a 25 percent refund of tuition.
Western Michigan University follows a similar policy, issuing refunds to students based on the date they withdraw from a class. Jan. 17 is the last day students can withdraw from a class with a 50 percent refund, according to the WMU Registrar’s Office.