September 27, 2011

The W: Record Keeper or Dream Crusher?


A few weeks ago, my three-year old niece had a nightmare that she was being chased by a giant “W”.  Despite every effort to move forward, to hide, to avoid it…. it was always there, lurking in the shadows.
Photo credit: Jennifer Grimm

Does this sound like you or a friend?  If so, there’s help for you.  Moderate to severe withdrawalaphobia can be cured by speaking with an academic adviser.  Call 848-932-8888 to schedule an appointment!

In the meantime, here's the down and dirty on the dreaded “W”…

MYTH:  A “W” ON YOUR TRANSCRIPT INDICATES THAT YOU WERE IN DANGER OF FAILING A COURSE
FindingBusted
Explanation:  A “W” tracks enrollment trends in courses by indicating that a student withdrew from a course after the add/drop period.  There is no indication of when or why a student withdrew.  There are many positive and responsible reasons for withdrawing from a course.  Therefore, the “W” is a neutral administrative mark with no negative connotations.

MYTH:  IT IS BETTER TO FAIL A COURSE AND RETAKE IT THAN TO GET A “W”
Finding:  Super Busted
 Explanation:  It is ALWAYS better to receive a “W” than to earn a D or F.  A withdrawal has no impact on your GPA, while Ds and Fs do.  Also note that the repeated course policy is Rutgers-specific (graduate schools do not have to honor it).  While a D or F may come back to haunt you, a W won’t!

MYTH:  OK, ONE WITHDRAWAL IS OK, BUT HAVING MULTIPLE “Ws” ON YOUR TRANSCRIPT LOOKS BAD
Finding:  Plausible
Explanation:  Two or three withdrawals peppered over your 8 semesters as an undergraduate don’t have any greater meaning.  But think of your transcript as telling a story about who you are as a student (because it does!).  If you have a pattern of withdrawing from a class every semester, it may mean that you’re having difficulty identifying an appropriate work load for yourself.

Also remember that if you withdraw from an entire semester, you may take the opportunity to explain the context for why that was a responsible, mature decision to potential employers or graduate programs.