How to Handle Drop Requests?
“Teaching” is more than just passing along information, but meeting the student where they are at, and engaging them there. This is true also in handling drop requests, and particularly with Lower Division courses. In the ideal situation, freshmen students take RHET 1010 and CORE 1010 during their first semester and take RHET 1020 their second semester. If a student delays, postpones, drops, or fails, it can adversely affect them and put them behind their peers. But a young, freshman student might not understand the full ramifications of such a decision, so RHET faculty are encouraged to make “a drop” situation a chance to engage the student and talk with them about what it takes to succeed at the university.
But before looking at how to handle the situation, it is important to understand that not all students are eligible to drop. Thus, when talking about dropping with any audience, please add, “if the student is eligible.” Similarly, a student should not make a decision about dropping or even request a drop, before first knowing their eligibility. Most students are eligible to drop, but some are not, including:
- any student who has previously postponed RHET 1010, CORE 1010, or RHET 1020
- any student who has signed a contract with RHET to have a hold released
- any student who is on their last or second-to-last attempt to pass RHET 1010, CORE 1010, or RHET 1020
- students who are facing possible consequences for an academic integrity violation in the class
Thus, when a student approaches you, or mentions that they might want to drop, please immediately mention to them that they must first check their eligibility. This inquiry can be done with any RHET admin in the RHET offices. Either the student or the instructor can make the inquiry.
But the choice to drop is not just a technical one, there is the bigger question of if they should drop. There is where a student can often use wise council. Students might be thinking about dropping for a variety of non-ideal reasons, including:
- thinking that another instructor (a following semester) might be easier.
- not wanting to do the work required to pass
- not having the life or time management skills to succeed a general struggle with adapting to university life
- having a hidden disability that is affecting them
We don’t want to see students slip into a multi-semester spiral of dropping and failing their freshman courses, and any of the above reasons could lead to that. So, early and caring intervention can help a student before they start to run into more serious problems at the university.
So, when a student talks with you about dropping, talk with them to explore their reasons why. Help them see if these are reasons that can be overcome. Let them know that the Office for Student Wellbeing is available to help and that you, as their instructor, want to work with them to see them succeed.
However, there are times, that dropping may be the best choice. Assuming they are eligible, then when a student is clearly going to fail, then a drop on their transcript will affect them less than a F will. In such a case, a drop may be best.
Since there is an official drop deadline, every instructor should announce to their students when that deadline approaches. Instructors should also make sure that all students have received some type of grade on a major assignment and that they have received enough feedback on their progress in the course that they would be able to make an informed decision about dropping. As part of this process, instructors should invite anyone considering dropping to first talk with the instructor.
To see the student process for requesting a drop, please read this FAQ.
When a student does request a drop, at some point in the process instructor approval is required. You should not approve their drop until you have checked with Julia (or another RHET admin assistant) that the student is eligible. Also, you, the instructor, will be the only one who knows if the student is facing an academic integrity violation in your class. If the student is, then you should first talk with the Department Chair before approving or rejecting the student’s request.
The approval may request instructor comments. These are not essential to the approval process, but any information provided is appreciated.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask the Associate Chair or Chair, who would be glad to help you with any questions.