The Texas Legislature is currently proposing a bill that will change the number of classes a student is allowed to drop during college.
Currently students may only drop six courses during their college career. Anything exceeding that remains on the student’s GPA. House Bill 136 authored by State Rep. Mark Shelton will take a look at amending Senate Bill 1231.
House Bill 136 states, “The governing board of an institution of higher education may adopt a policy that limits the number of courses a student is permitted to drop.”
In Shelton’s amendment, each college will be able to adopt their own drop policy. Vincent Nguyen, director of Student Life at Tyler Junior College, supports a change in the current law.
“The six-drop rule (Senate Bill 1231) limits the student from reaching their best potential. I feel they need to fail a few times and learn from their own mistakes in order to do better next time. It is important for the student to explore those avenues and if we put a restriction on that then how can we see those students succeed?”
Some Tyler Junior College students such as Katie Jones can see the law’s purpose of molding students for a brighter future.
“It will cause the student to think about the classes that they take and to really try in the course. We can’t just drop classes left and right now; we have to think about our choices, which is making for more responsible students and that much closer to our degree,” Jones said.
Butch Hayes, Tyler Junior College Provost, who feels hot and cold towards the current law, explained why it was originally passed. “The way we receive money through the state is called contact hour reimbursement.” Dr. Hayes explained each class hour is worth a specific number of contact hours and the total number of hours all students are enrolled in are added up and the state then awards each institution funding based on that number. “The state is paying for part of the classroom instruction so they were trying to be watchful of how much they were paying for. They have started to put some limits on the number of hours a student can drop.”
Jones feels students should do some investigating into courses before enrolling in a class, in order to prevent unnecessary dropping.
“Students should not be able to waste taxpayer dollars so easily,” explained Jones, “We are already going through budget cuts. We just need to take responsibility and know what we are getting ourselves into, prior to taking the course. If you decided to take a class you need to do research prior instead of throwing yourself into it and if it does not work out just simply dropping it.”
Nguyen agrees, but still asks for a little more wiggle-room in the law or to look at other possible solutions.
“We should have a restriction but it shouldn’t be so tight that we are preventing a student from success,” he said. “If a student is having a trouble with a class and they have identified it, those students should have a right to drop those classes in order to salvage their grade. I think what’s true with any Texas college student is that life is going to happen and if we are just going to put restrictions on those types of things it can keep them from achieving their goals. I think it the law is trying to pave a better path for students. This is just so subjective; it’s a case-by-case deal. Regardless, there are many other facets that need to be looked at.”
He suggests a fine for a course drop in order to pay the state back rather than simply forcing a student to take the failing grade onto their GPA and resulting in a loss of scholarship or chance at a four-year university.
Hayes, although he recognizes the occasional necessary drop, agrees with the current law saying that changing it to an individual institution’s choice may provide confusion and become unfair to the student.
“I think that particularly for community colleges, students do have some very good reasons for needing to drop a class periodically. There are family situations, many students have their own children or they are taking care of a parent. There are many good reasons for needing to drop classes.” He said, “There is in the current law some flexibility. If the institution determines something, an extenuating circumstance we don’t use the rule against the student. House Bill 136 is a concern, to all community colleges. If Kilgore has one rule, TJC has a different rule and TVCC has a different rule how do we reconcile all of that? It wouldn’t be fair for the students. They need to be treated the same no matter what community college they attend. There needs to be one consistent rule statewide.”
After discussion with other community college provosts, he does not see the law changing.
“I don’t see much likelihood of it [HB 136] being passed. I think there is enough flexibility in the current rule and most institutions have not found it to be a hindrance to the student. I like what we have got,” Hayes said. “It doesn’t seem like there is a lot of support for it. We are still very early in the session so surprises can happen.”
Whether the law is causing unnecessary stress on students or pushing them towards their future while maintaining a fiscally-responsible state is unclear up to this point. One thing for sure is that, in the rapidly-approaching future, decisions regarding Senate Bill 1231 will have to be made. To follow this or any bill’s path through legislation visit http://www.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx.