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College isn’t meant for course shopping

We’ve all been there—staring at the computer screens in annoyance because that one class you really needed is full. To make it worse, you know that at least one person that’s filling a spot that should be yours is going to drop the class after add/drop week. Meanwhile, you’re stuck in a class that doesn’t really get you any closer to graduation.
Most likely, what that other student is doing is course shopping, a term coined by the Faculty Senate to describe students who take some classes for a test drive then drop the classes. He or she really isn’t interested in the course, but may need it in case they don’t like another class or they just wanted to see if the professor teaching the course would be too hard or too easy.
Under the current policy, students were allowed numerous withdrawals and the W on your transcript did not impact your GPA.
The Editorial Policies Committee has made a new policy to help stop this habit of “course shopping.” This changes the policy from allowing any number of withdrawals to limiting withdrawals to only five withdrawals for your entire time spent at VSU. After that five-withdrawal limit, any other withdrawals will be considered WFs (this is factored into your GPA as an F).
Before students start screaming, “But what if I get sick and can’t complete a semester?” the new withdrawal policy, as did the old, has exceptions like medical, military, hardships or similar reasons.
Plus, the policy doesn’t count withdrawals before fall 2010 or ones from other schools.
Only five withdrawals may seem like too small a number; however, for an eight-semester stay at VSU, that only leaves three semesters in which you have to stay focused and complete your classes.
To the course-shopper—you’re paying for the classes you’re taking, so why choose one that you may or may not really want or need when you know there’s someone who does? Why waste your time and money on a class that you know you’ll drop in a few weeks?
Be sure you know what a class is before you sign up for it. If you’re not sure what a professor is like or if you’ll be able to handle the class, ask someone. There’s probably someone who has had the professor some time for some class.
If not, you still have add/drop week to decide if a class is right for you. You do have a right to choose and to know what you are getting into.
And even if it’s right before midterm, and you know there’s no way for you to turn an F to a C, drop the class. You are allowed five withdrawals, people make mistakes, we’re all human.
Professors (and I say this with absolutely no disrespect), you can’t blame the course shopping simply on the students. Countless times, I’ve heard students confused and bewildered about what classes are necessary for them to take. Students “course shop” because they weren’t advised properly.
If you’re going to limit the number of withdrawals (and for good reason), improve methods of advising. Yes, advisors are busy and have to advise many students while still juggling teaching and other things.
But if students are less confused about what they need to take and when they need to take it, there would be less course shopping.
And isn’t that what prompted the new policy?
This editorial was written by Amy Johstono (acjohstono@valdosta.edu) and it expresses the opinion of the entire editorial staff.

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