UTSA students must make their final decisions on whether or not they would like to drop a class by Oct. 30.

Last fall, UTSA’s drop date was Dec. 4 for undergraduate students. That is close to a five-week shift for a date to which most of UTSA’s undergraduates have become accustomed.

However, graduate students have always had their drop date around the end of October ­— nine weeks into the semester, as opposed to 14 weeks into the semester.

According to Vice Provost and Dean of the University College Dr. Lawrence Williams, the university drop date moved to the end of the semester in 2005 to allow freshmen to adjust to college life.

Lawrence attributed this initial change in the drop date to “anecdotal evidence from faculty and students” that students were having difficulty deciding whether or not to withdraw from the university after receiving poor grades in a class after the drop date had passed.

In 2010, the student withdrawal had not subsided, and the decision was made to move the drop date to the end of the semester for all undergraduates, Lawrence said.

“We were hoping that by moving the drop date to the end of the semester, we would decrease the number of Ds and Fs that students were getting by letting them drop a class at the end of the semester and maybe improve the number of A’s and B’s,” Dr. Lawrence explained.

Lawrence stated that the drop date was also moved for undergraduates as part of UTSA’s four-year Graduation Rate Improvement Plan (GRIP).

According to the GRIP Revised Project Plans of 2013, the university’s goal is to position itself to “target funds more effectively to students most likely to graduate (Top 25 percent), providing resources to help fund their education for four years.”

In Summer 2014, after reviewing enrollment policies from Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. John Frederick, the Associate Deans Council and Lawrence recommended an earlier drop date to Frederick. Frederick then recommended the change to the Faculty Senate.

Once the Faculty Senate agrees on recommendations, they refer the recommendation to President Romo who then signs off on the recommendation.

UTSA faculty and administration saw that the number of D’s and F’s did not significantly change as a result of moving the drop date. Therefore, in the fall of 2013, they made the decision to push the 2014 drop date back down to nine weeks into the semester for all students.

Lawrence, clarifying the reason for the change in drop date, said, “We want to improve student completion (the graduation rate). We also have more tools to help students be more successful, like the early alert system (EARN), as well as advisers and faculty to reach out to students.”

Whether the administration receives a negative student reaction or not, the new drop date is here to stay. Lawrence stressed the importance of making students aware of the new drop date, reiterating, “The idea of moving the drop date to mid-semester is to promote student completion of classes rather than dropping, and we will do everything we can to help them achieve that.”

Administration is also discussing registration for seniors and is considering giving priority to students who are closer to graduation.

The potential priority registration change for seniors will accomplish what the new Oct. 30 date also tries to achieve — student’s ability to graduate earlier.

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