Some students at Ithaca College feel the period to add and drop classes does not provide enough time to decide if a course is right for them.
For the first seven days of a semester, students can add or drop a class from their schedule with no penalty. Students pay the same amount of tuition to take anywhere from 12–18 credits, so there is no financial impact for dropping a class after the deadline if a full-time status is kept. If a student wants to drop below 12 credits to part-time status, they must do so by the end of the add/drop period or a refund will not be permitted. Students who drop to part-time status may have to forfeit access to on-campus housing and their financial aid could change. The period to add or drop courses for Fall 2022 was from the first day of classes Aug. 22 to Aug. 28.
First-year student Megan MacNeely said the deadline should be longer than a week because students do not know if they are fit for the course or not from only a couple of classes.
“In the first week of school, you sometimes don’t even really know what [the class] is about or what type of work you are going to be doing,” MacNeely said. “I feel like you don’t have enough time to think through if it’s a class you want to drop or keep.”
Registrar Vikki Levine said the reason for the early deadline is because the college issues refund checks to students who are eligible. She also said that in the six years she has worked at the college, the add/drop deadline has not changed.
“Let’s say the add/drop [deadline] was at the end of week two, students couldn’t get refund checks until week three and a lot of our student population will use those refund checks to buy food, pay rent, buy [Bomber] Bucks, all these things that are also part of your student experience.”
Shana Gore, executive director of Student Financial Services, said students who have an excess amount of financial aid are eligible for a refund check, including students who drop to part-time status. Students can start to receive refunds by the second week of classes. Gore said the college cannot process any refund checks for students until after the add/drop period is over because students’ schedules must be finalized first.
“The amount a student is billed each semester and the amount of financial aid they are eligible to receive is directly related to their number of enrolled hours,” Gore said. “We wait until add/drop ends so that we can review any students who need updates to their bill and/or aid based off a change in enrolled hours. Then we can disburse the financial aid and begin to process refunds.”
Some colleges opt to have their drop deadline after their add deadline. Hamilton College’s add deadline is Sept. 2, the second Friday of Fall 2022 — the drop deadline comes almost a month later on Oct. 5. Cornell University’s add deadline is also the second week of Fall 2022 — with the drop deadline coming 13 days later Sept. 19.
Kristin Friedel, registrar at Hamilton College, said via email that the reason for the shorter course add deadline is because the college’s leadership feels like students should not be missing more than a week’s worth of class material.
“Hamilton allows students to drop a course until the sixth Wednesday with no penalty or record,” Friedel said via email. “After that point, students may petition for a late drop with a grade of W, but no GPA impact. Students drop courses because they may be having academic difficulties, they have decided they no longer are interested in the course, or a variety of other reasons.”
After the add and drop period ends students at Ithaca College are able to either switch the grading criteria for their class to the Satisfactory/D/Fail (S/D/F) option or withdraw. The S/D/F option means that as long as a student earns above a C- in a class, the grade is not counted in their overall GPA. The deadline for this option in Fall 2022 closed Sept. 9.
Levine said that students can fall behind if they miss more than a week of coursework, and with a 15 week semester, the information students miss in the first weeks can be vital.
“Let’s say you bought a $30,000 car and decided not to pick it up until two weeks into development,” Levine said. “Every week you’re late, something gets taken off. By the time you pick up your car at the end of week two, you have no windshield wipers and no fluids in the car. That’s the equivalent of missing two weeks of coursework, and then what is the recovery time for that in a 15–week semester?”
First-year student Noelle Cook dropped one of their classes before the deadline. Cook said more education on the process of adding and dropping classes would have been helpful.
“Nobody really tells you how to properly drop a class,” Cook said. “After dropping it I just stopped showing up and assumed that [the professor] would know that I dropped it.”
Cook said a later add and drop deadline may help with the adjustment for first-year students.
“The honeymoon phase of college kind of lessens the pressure, but once quizzes and tests start happening, the stress just continues piling up,” Cook said.
Senior Erin Gallagher said students who miss the add/drop deadline often feel stuck.
“Having a withdraw on your transcript feels like an admittance to failure,” Gallagher said. “You’re stuck, you don’t have options at that point and professors are willing to help, but realistically, how much is that going to do?”