Policies that allow students to try out courses and drop them by a certain deadline are a time-honored way for colleges to encourage students to sign up for classes they’re not sure about or get out of ones they don’t like. But the policies are sometimes manipulated by students hunting for easy A’s or a sure-to-pass course in ways that can cause headaches for faculty and administrators.
Texas is attempting to stop the abuse (and diminish the costs it imposes on colleges and the state) while still allowing flexibility, with a new law that goes into effect this fall. For students beginning their studies at a Texas public college or university this year, the brief course “shopping period” at the start of a semester will be more important than it has ever been for the state’s undergraduates.
Regardless of how many institutions they attend, how many courses they enroll in or how many years they take classes, students entering Texas public institutions this fall and beyond will be limited to six courses dropped after the shopping period.
I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that there’d be riots if we tried this. (Also, the administrators quoted in the article weren’t always clear about distinguishing “drops,” which usually never appear on a transcript, and “withdrawals,” which do.)
At the same time, it is startling to imagine a world in which the first week of class wasn’t spent tracking add/drops. For example, you could actually teach content!