Don’t stress over the Ws

Dropping a class with a W isn’t the automatic transfer failure many students think it will be. Orange Coast College counselors recommend talking with them before deciding to drop a class.

Apparently dropping a class with a W may not be the transfer suicide students worry it would be.

As the last day to drop a class with a W approaches in May, many students are wondering what their educational future looks like.

“Dropping a class with a W just means that a student did not finish the course, for whatever reason. A W does not affect their overall grade point,” Orange Coast College Counselor Carol E. Barnes said.

In many cases students place more negative factors to dropping a course with a W than there actually are.

Some even purposely fail a class to avoid a W because of fear and lack of knowledge.

Barnes said that even though a student can retake a failed class, the failed grade still appears on their transcripts.

Although the failed grade is replaced in the overall grade point by the better grade when the class is retaken, it is up to the policies of the education facility whether to consider the failed attempt.

The dropping dilemma can also affect transferring to a university.

Linda Bagatourian, a transfer center counselor, said there are different consequences to dropping a class with a W.

“Depending on what the students’ educational goal is, [dropping with a W] could affect financial aid, it could affect their academic transfer and it could affect whether they’re going to have a chain of degree or certificate. Those are some things that can happen,” Bagatourian said.

According to both Barnes and Bagatourian, there is no such statement as “too many W’s” and that the reality is that the numbers of Ws on a transcript are determined case-by-case considering individual situations, where the student is transferring and their transcripts.

“There are no two transcripts that are the same,” Bagatourian added.

However, there is a limited set when dealing with dropping the same course.

If a class is dropped three times with a W the student is no longer allowed to take that course at OCC.

They would have to attend a different college to take it if they need it, the counselors said.

For the many who receive financial aid at OCC, dropping a class with or without a W can be costly.

To be considered a full-time student eligible for a full Pell Grant refund, which is the most common financial aid resource, 12 units are needed.

“Pell grant is dispersed according to your enrollment status. There is full time, three-quarters times, half time, and less than half time. Dropping from classes could change your enrollment status and if your enrollment status changes your Pell Grant eligibility changes as well,” said Student Financial Aid Specialist Ly Tran Le.

If a student enrolls at the beginning of the semester in 12 units, receives a full refund, and then drops half the units before the “freeze day,” the day in the semester where the students’ enrollment status remains frozen regardless of the changes made after, the student will have to pay back the financial aid money originally granted.

If the class is dropped after the freeze day, enrollment status remains the same — therefore the student does not pay it back. The freeze day this semester was April 9.

Above all, dropping a class with a W can cause damage to students depending on their circumstance.

The advice from the professionals is to see a counselor to discuss the outcomes of dropping a class with a W before doing it.

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