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CCC proposes moving drop deadline

College Curriculum Council proposes moving deadline back to middle of semester

By
Contributing Writer
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Approximately 20 students attended the CCC’s public forum on Monday. The University’s current drop date deadline is one of the latest in the Ivy League, but students expressed concerns about moving the date forward.

The College Curriculum Council held a public forum in the Underground Oct. 16 to discuss putting a motion forward to change the drop deadline for undergraduate students. The CCC is proposing moving the drop date closer to the middle of the semester, said Dean of the College Maud Mandel. This decision, which the CCC has been considering since spring 2016, came as the result of a joint study conducted by the Office of the Dean of the College, Undergraduate Council of Students and the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning.

“This is a proposal. The (CCC) doesn’t decide this. … If the CCC votes in favor of the motion, it then goes to the Faculty Executive Committee, … and if the Faculty Executive Committee approves it, it goes to the full faculty for a vote,” said Mandel. “All the CCC is doing is considering … whether or not to put a motion forward to change this. It’s a process.”

The CCC has been considering this change since the study revealed that “nearly 40 percent of the courses dropped were dropped in the last two weeks,” Mandel said, adding that students who drop after the fourth week of classes are significantly more likely to end up with academic warnings.

Students who drop courses later in the semester are often sticking with the classes until the end, dropping before finals to avoid getting a ‘C,’ Mandel said. It’s “a grade management strategy, which is really not what the Open Curriculum was meant for. … It was meant to encourage students to take risks and to explore, (which is) the opposite of grade management. … The last minute drop to avoid a ‘C’ … has this cascading negative impact,” she added. This “cascading negative impact” can have serious financial implications for students, who might feel obligated to take classes over a winter or summer session to avoid receiving an academic warning.

Within the landscape of higher education, Brown has one of the latest drop date deadlines, Mandel said. According to their respective academic calendars, other Ivy League schools have drop dates anywhere between the first four to 10 weeks after classes start, whereas Brown’s drop date is approximately 14 weeks after classes start.

Of the approximately 20 students who attended the forum, many cited concerns about mental health, grades and applicability to graduate programs. Many believed that the mid-semester deadline would be too early to be able to decide to drop a course, citing a lack of grade feedback from their professors. Some students were also worried that losing the ability to drop a course late in the semester could cause them to get a grade that could hurt their chances of graduate school acceptance.

Others were worried about the impact that moving the drop deadline could have on students’ mental health. Members of Project LETS, a mental health advocacy group, and others at the forum said moving the deadline earlier could induce stress from being trapped in a course they’re struggling with.

Those that attended the forum also discussed moving the S/NC deadline later in the semester if the drop deadline is moved earlier. This change could encourage students to stick with a particularly difficult class that they might otherwise drop.

Ultimately, students suggested that, should the drop date deadline be moved earlier in the year, students still have the ability to drop a course after consulting their advisors.

Forum attendees indicated they would like to have more information behind students’ reasonings for dropping courses before a decision is made.

“It’s still very much a discussion. … Should we take this up or should we vote on it,” Andrew Kutscher ’18, a student representative on the CCC, told The Herald.

“There will be a conversation in about three weeks or month … where we will be talking about this forum and about other feedback that we’ve gotten in the interim,” Raphaela Posner ’18, another student representative on the CCC, told The Herald.