Home Features Best for Cuesta What it means to drop a course with a W

What it means to drop a course with a W

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Top view of a student workplace. Illustration by Guadalupe Angeles

Students may drop or withdraw from a course through the end of the twelfth week for a full-term course, or within 60% of a short term or Summer course and receive a “W for withdrawal symbol on their academic record.

How to drop a course online

To drop a course online, log in to myCuesta, click on the Student tab, then click on ‘Register Add/Drop Classes’ under Direct Links to Registration Services. Select the correct term (current term), then click ‘Submit.’ Once selected, one should be able to view their schedule. For the courses wanted to drop from, select ‘Drop Withdrawn’ and then at the bottom click on ‘Submit Changes.’ 

To make sure one dropped their course correctly, return to the student tab and click on ‘My Class Schedule/Receipt’ under Direct Links to Registration Services.

Dropping Course with an EW (Excused Withdrawal)

Title 5, section 55024 regulations allow for an Excused Withdrawal (EW) grading symbol. The purpose of the EW non-evaluative symbol is to permit a student to withdraw from a course for reasons beyond their control.

Some of the possible reasons for dropping with an EW include job transferring outside the geographical region, illness in the family where the student is the primary caregiver, enrollment in the United States military service, chronic or acute illness, accidents, natural disasters affecting the student, a student is the subject of an immigration action, death of an immediate family member and if an incarcerated student in a California State Prison or County Jail is released from custody or involuntarily before the end of the term.

Depending on the reason for a EW request, a student will be allowed for one course in a term to be counted as EW Verification will be required. 

Military Withdrawal

Military withdrawal occurs when a student who is a member of an active or reserve United States military service receives orders compelling a withdrawal from courses. The student must verify such orders with registration staff at the time of the withdrawal and complete a Withdrawal Form. Copies of these orders must be submitted by the student to the Cashier with a written refund request. Students withdrawing under this college policy will receive a grade of “MW” for each course from which they withdraw and shall be entitled to a full refund of all enrollment fees paid to the college unless academic credit has been awarded.

Total Withdrawal 

Students may withdraw from all courses online within the drop deadlines. Once the final withdrawal (drop with W) deadline passes, a grade of an “F” will likely be awarded if the student has not arranged with the instructor to complete minimum course requirements. If the final withdrawal deadline has passed and the student experiences verifiable extenuating circumstances preventing their completion of the course before finals, the student may petition to drop with a “W” for withdrawal on their record. Petitions are available at the Registration Centers for review by the Director of Admissions & Records. 

Most frequently asked questions about dropping a course with a W

What does it mean to drop a class with a W (Withdrawal)?

Dropping a class means a student has chosen to unenroll in a course and no longer have to attend it. When a student drops from a course, they do not need to notify the instructor.

What is the difference between a W and an EW?

When dropping a course with a W there is no justification needed, as long as a student meets the deadline. Dropping a course with an EW will not be counted in progress probation and dismissal calculations. EW will not be counted towards the permitted number of withdrawals or counted as an enrollment attempt. 

How many times can one drop a class with a W? 

The maximum number of dropping a class with a W is three. Students should be aware that once they drop the course three times, they will not be allowed to repeat the course for a fourth attempt at Cuesta College. If the students need the course, they will have to take it at another community college.

Does one get a refund?

No, full refunds only apply for courses dropped before the semester/session started, or before the first class meeting for a late start short course. Partial refunds only apply if a student dropped a course by the end of the second week for a full enrollment course or within 10% of a summer session or short course.

Does one get a grade?

No, if a student dropped a course, the W symbol will be on their transcript and will not affect their GPA.

When is a W (withdrawal) bad?

If a student has a lot of W’s they will be placed on Progress Probation. 

Two semesters of Progress Probation means the student will lose early priority to register at Cuesta College. Three semesters of Progress Probation means the student will be placed on dismissal (the Student will need to sit out the next term or attend a Dismissal Reinstatement Workshop).

Students with financial aid must pass 67% of units attempted each term and cumulatively to maintain eligibility for federal student aid. All W’s will be included in the calculation under Financial Aid’s Satisfactory Academic Progress policy.

If a student is applying to the RN/Nursing Program, they will lose consideration points under the Multi-Criteria Point Allocation. 

The number of W’s on a transcript may be taken into consideration for academic transfer. Other factors are considered such as if the course was required for the student’s major, certificate, or associate degree. Each transcript considers the individual’s situation and reviews on a case-by-case basis. Overall, it is recommended to have a W, which does not affect a student GPA, versus a D or F, which brings down their GPA.

Full-time status is a requirement for many programs, including Pell Grant, athletic eligibility, and F1 Visa (international student). Consequently, dropping with a W may put a student below full-time status. Before dropping a course, the student should contact each program for recommendation and see if they may need to enroll in a late-start course to replace the units dropped.

Why might dropping a class with a W be good?

Dropping a class with a W will not affect a students GPA. If a student misses a deadline to drop with a W they will have to receive a grade, in most cases an F, which will affect their overall GPA. When students receive a C in a class and pass, they will be unable to repeat the course to get a better grade. 

Cuesta College counselors suggest dropping a course if it is challenging or time-consuming. The course may cause a student’s grade to suffer, if a student drops a course it will strengthen their transcript in the long run because they will have a better chance to get good grades on the rest of their classes.

How does a W affect a student who is applying to a competitive program?

For most competitive schools having a W does not have any negative impact on a student. A couple of campuses where it could have any impact would be Stanford University and Harvard University. If a student is unsure about a W affecting the school they’re applying to, they should talk to their counselor, since it is different for each school. 

Due to COVID-19, Cuesta College Counselors will be available to connect with students by Zoom, phone or email. For more information about counseling visit https://www.cuesta.edu/student/studentservices/counseling/