by Jack Stubbs
The Office of Academic Advising, in collaboration with the Office of the Registrar, is working to shift the timeline of the withdraw late (WL), or “mulligan”, process in an attempt to minimize the hoops students must jump through to drop a class during the semester. Currently, the mulligan allows students to withdraw from a course very late in the semester, and is allotted to each student only once in their four years at Kenyon. This year, the deadline to pick up the WL form from the Registrar is Monday, Dec. 8 and the completed form must be dropped off to the office no later than Friday, Dec. 12 — the last day of classes — at 4:30 p.m. In the future, the Academic Advising and Registrar offices say they aim to minimize the amount of time students are required to meet with their professors and speak with their advisors about the possibility of using their mulligan, and reduce the time it takes collect the various signatures necessary to complete the WL form.
In the 2010-2011 academic year, 149 students used mulligans across the four class years; in 2011-2012, 147 students used them; in 2012-13, 161 were used; and last year, 165 students took advantage of the option. According to the registrar, mulligan use by students has recently been on the rise. Furthermore, the registrar saw that 60 percent of the students use the WL option during their first two years at Kenyon, while only 15 percent use the WL option during their senior year.
For students, the decision about whether or not to mulligan a class is often a difficult one; it requires considering the larger context of one’s transcript, academic record and future course load.
This self-evaluation is especially important because students will sometimes remain in a class for the entire semester and will not use their WL until the last possible moment. This is an issue, especially when the “emotional and academic energy spent taking the class could have been directed elsewhere,” Dean for Academic Advising and Support Hoi Ning Ngai said.
When making the choice about whether or not to WL from a class, Ngai advised that students “consider their overall academic well-being,” thought she acknowledged that “sometimes it’s difficult to think long term, but it’s also important to be proactive about making this decision.”
Ultimately, such academic choices rest with the student. “Professors won’t make the decision for you,” Ngai said. “Instead, they’ll try and present the pros and cons of using the WL for their class.” The Academic Advising and Registrar’s offices are also available to open and encourage the lines of communication between the students, their professors and their advisors when making the decision about whether or not to WL from a class. Students are under no pressure to stay in — or drop — a class, according to Ngai. The Office of Academic Advising says its aim is to make sure that students are making the best-informed decisions possible.
“Withdrawing late from a class wasn’t something that I had wanted to do, but the process was pretty easy and straightforward,” Teddie Chambers ’15 said. Students have expressed that the difficult part of the process isn’t the actual withdrawl from the class, but the active decision to. “All of my teachers and everyone in the [Academic] Advising office was very understanding about my decision to WL from my class,” Chambers said. If students have thoroughly considered the decision to use their mulligan, the rest process of withdrawing late is straightforward.
“It’s really important to constantly critically evaluate yourself as well as your academic record when you’re trying to decide whether or not to use your WL,” Ngai said.
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