Stop and think before you drop
By Mariela Sloan
Although Tyler Junior College can claim various achievements, faculty and advisors need to face the painful reality of students dropping classes late in the semester due to academic reasons.
According to Jacquelyn Messinger, director of institutional research, in the last three semesters, TJC has had 1,440 students who withdrew from at least one class.
There are several reasons why students decide to drop a class. One of the most common reasons is because students start a major and later on realize that it is not for them. Other students become overloaded with many courses and panic when they fail their first test. Some students drop because financial, family or transportation issues. Many students make the decision to drop without even seeing an advisor.
“When a student first starts at TJC, they are required to see an advisor, and, so, we try to meet with them and make sure that they’re following the correct degree plan,” said Seth Clark, lead academic advisor at Tyler Junior College. “Because if they tell us, ‘I am just here to do my basics’ and start with General Studies, they really mean they should be working towards a degree. It’s important that we get them focused on that major as soon as we can.”
Some students follow this advice and avoid significant dropping problems. Other students like Tyler Banks, a graphic design student, found it necessary to drop courses in the process of changing his major.
“I dropped a course because I was a Games Graphics Simulation major and I gave up. When I changed to Graphic Design, I liked it,” Banks said.
Advisors try to make students understand that when they drop a class, it could have serious consequences for their records. In the state of Texas, every freshman student who started after the fall of 2007 is allowed to drop six times from the time they start college until the time they finish an undergraduate degree. This rule is called the “six drop rule.”
Advisers are also concerned that students hold on to a course that they have failed, allowing that class to harm their GPA and financial aid.
“I had to drop two classes when I felt that I was not going to pass the courses. Sometimes it is not because the course is hard, but because I am not doing the work,” said Yesenia Gonzalez, a criminal justice major at TJC. “I never went to the advisor. Sometimes I had five or six classes, plus the laboratory, and it can be too much.”
Advisors are not the only ones concerned about students dropping courses. Professors also make an effort to help students. If students are missing class, the professors try to give them a call or send an email. Sometimes they don’t hear anything from the students. In other cases, the students inform the professor about their family problems or difficulty managing time between school and work.
“The characteristics can be different for each student who drops a class. Many times I have students at the beginning of the semester who are not making it to class,” said Mrs. Linda Bellington math professor for the department of Developmental Education. “Maybe they are not really committed, or they are sleeping in. Other times I have students who have a real, valid issue. Maybe their family is having problems, but what happens is they begin to see how far behind they are, and they start to feel overwhelmed and that causes students to drop.”
For example, Mary Deason, a general studies major, mother, wife, student and assistant at the TJC writing center made the decision to drop a class last semester.
“I dropped my class because it was time consuming. It was more work than I thought it would be … I am a wife and mother, (so) being a full-time student was too much. I was taking two different history classes, and another class and was already feeling behind. So I dropped the one that did not affect my grade,” said Deason.
According to Clark, students who can, should take advantage of tutoring and form study groups with other students that are in their class.
Students need to pay attention to the catalog because they cannot drop a class or make any type of withdrawal after Nov. 22 for the fall semester. It is recommended that students speak with an advisor about the courses that they may need to drop because you can potentially lose funding and owe money back to the financial aid department.
Students should always speak with financial aid if they have loans or scholarships in order to make sure that they are not going to hurt themselves by dropping the course. Students can have a walk-in or scheduled appointment to see an advisor.
Students can call Academic Advising and contact Seth Clark, lead academic advisor, or call 903-510-2425, Fax: 903-510-2894, or email@example.com