The "Grace" Period:
When a sports team finishes with a "W" in their record, it's lauded as a success, and one step closer to a championship. However, when a student records a "W" in his or her record, the connotation is anything but success.
With there being talk at Santa Monica College of extending the grace period allowed for dropping classes, students would have more time to decide whether a class is too difficult for them at that time, without being penalized on their academic record.
On the other hand, the extension of the grace period could also encourage students to drop classes later in the semester simply because the grade they are receiving is not complying with their academic standards.
Having faith in the student body here at SMC, the extending of the grace period would of course come with some students that would abuse the class-dropping system in order to manipulate their grade point averages. But for every handful of students who abuse the system, a larger number of students would recieve immense aid.
For those who have read some 200 words and are still nevertheless confused, a "W," in academic terms, is short for the phrase "withdrawal," meaning that the student dropped the class after the grace period allowed by their college.
A "W" is a transcript's worst foe, cluttering a student's hard work with instances displaying that the student could not keep up with the rigors demanded by a certain class during that period of time.
At SMC, the current grace period for students to drop classes without receiving a "W" is at the end of the third week into the semester, as instructors hope that by that time that the student has an idea as to the demands of the class and what is expected of him or her. The date for a guaranteed "W" is at the end of the eighth week of classes.
While there are those who may argue that halfway through the semester is a bit late to change one's mind on a class, note that the situation of every student at a community college is individually unique from their classmates.
With so many different backgrounds, occupations, and active lives at SMC, the possibilities of scenarios requiring a student to drop a class are very real (with the list of scenarios being near endless).
A system that is meant to penalize the indecisive and those that use the professor's valuable time only to drop the class is a necessary one, as professors can then afford their time to the students who will work hardest in their classes.
However, imagine an SMC student who is in their ninth week of the semester, only to have their car totaled in an accident. They live 90 minutes away from campus, and they work two jobs in order to afford school and living expenses. Since the student can no longer commute the campus, the student must have a "W" placed on their record.
An academic punishment for the actions of fate seems strong, especially when a bad student who withdraws simply because they do not care about the class receives the same mark that a victim of fate may have.
Admittedly, for the many who would benefit from the extension of the grace period for dropping classes, there are those who would abuse the system. The manner in which students could drop classes with no penalty until their GPA is structured to their liking is similar to someone who repaints their home countless times until they are finally satisfied; while the end product may be to one's liking, the amount of time and money wasted supercedes the result.
In the end, an extension of the grace period for withdrawals would help many students who simply need the time to organize the complicated lives they are living. While a new system may be abused, it only takes time for those involved to find flaws in any system.