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Everything you really need to know about withdrawing from a course.

Sometimes, life outside the classroom can affect life inside the classroom. For whatever reason, you might not be able to finish a course. In those situations, you might need to withdraw.

But do you know what a “W” really means? Before you submit the paperwork, make sure you understand the effect of a “W.”

Whats a “W?”
A “W” stands for withdraw–officially removing yourself from a class roster prior to completing 60 percent of the session. By withdrawing, you avoid a failing grade, but there may be other important (and not-so-awesome) effects.

How does a W affect my GPA?
The short answer: It doesn’t. A “W” has no effect your grade point average. If you’re unable to complete a course, this might be a good thing. However . . . .

How does a W look on my transcript if I’m transferring?
That depends on how many “Ws” we’re talking about. One or two isn’t the equivalent of an academic scarlet letter, but a larger pattern of “Ws”? That may spell trouble.

If you have multiple Ws across your transcript, that might raise admission eyebrows as to how well you were able to handle your academic workload. Regardless, you should be prepared to answer questions about any “Ws” on your transcript. Admissions officers might ask you to explain.

Bottom line: A “W” is better than a low grade. But you don’t want to collect them. One or two are cool. More than a few, though, could be a red flag to transcript reviewers.

Does a W affect my Financial Aid?
Yes, but it’s tricky. If you withdraw from all your classes before completing 60 percent of the semester, you may be on the hook for tuition costs or other, non-instructional aid. And that means you might be on the business end of a call from the Financial Aid office.

I think I might need to withdraw from a class. Who should I talk to?
These two people are key: Your academic advisor and a financial aid officer. Discuss your options with both before withdrawing so you don’t run into any surprises.

When can I withdraw?
You can withdraw from a course any time after the add/drop deadline and prior to completing 60 percent of the session.  Check the Reynolds’s Academic Calendar for specific dates each semester.

 Okay, I understand all that. One last question: Can I withdraw after the 60% mark?
Nope. If you are past the withdraw deadline, that 60 percent mark, any attempts to withdraw will result in a failing grade … with one exception. In case of emergency circumstances, you may request a late withdrawal. Talk to your academic advisor about that.

More Resources

Reynolds Withdraw Policy:
Federal Financial Aid Policy for Withdrawl:
Financial Aid page for Withdrawls :


Comments (1)

  1. Thank you for this useful information (from several perspectives) on Withdrawal. I will add this to my Blackboard course deliveries (i.e., Modules for the syllabus & midterm information).

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