Dropping, Withdrawing, or Withdrawing from the University: What’s the Difference?

by UMaineCLASAdvisingCenter

Universities, like any other institution, employ a great deal of jargon. They use terminology to label things that may appear very similar, though have different meanings, however subtle. One case of this is the differences between dropping a class, withdrawing from a class, and withdrawing from the university. Though they sound similar, they each mean something different. Dropping a class and withdrawing from a class are similar, but occur during different time frames. Withdrawing from the university, meanwhile, is a different beast entirely.

The University of Maine defines dropping a course as “a reduction in a student’s class load during the Drop period while remaining enrolled in other classes at any of the University of Maine campuses.” Basically, it means you are removing a course from your schedule of classes during the defined Drop period. Withdrawing is defined as “a reduction in a student’s class load after the Drop period while remaining enrolled in other classes at any of the University of Maine campuses.” Thus, it is basically removing a course from your schedule of classes after the defined Drop period. So what’s the Drop period?

Well, according to the university, it is “the time frame a student may drop classes from their schedule without academic or financial penalties.” So during the Drop period, you can drop a class and either not be charged, if the class hasn’t started yet and you haven’t paid for it, or be reimbursed, if you have already paid for the course (for further information on refunds, check the Bursar’s website). Also, the course is removed from your transcript, with no record of you having ever been registered for the class or attended it. Okay, this is great, but when is the Drop period?

Generally speaking, for standard full-semester classes during the Fall and Spring semesters, the Drop period begins approximately midway through the previous semester, when registration begins, and ends fifteen days into the semester (the number of days equal to the number of weeks the class is scheduled). During this period, students are able to drop classes using the Add/Drop function in MaineStreet. For an example, let’s look at the Drop period for Spring 2014 classes. The Drop period began on Monday, October 28, at 7am, when registration began for graduate students and some seniors. The Drop period then ended on Monday, January 27 at 4:30pm (fifteen days after the semester started, since there are fifteen weeks in the semester). So, if you tried to drop a class on Monday, January 27 at 4:35pm, MaineStreet wouldn’t let you.

Once the Drop period ends, once you have gotten beyond the fifteenth day of the semester, you may still withdraw from a class, at least for the next eight weeks. To do so, however, you have to go to Student Records or, for CLAS students, the Student Services Office in 100 Stevens Hall and fill out an Add/Drop form. The difference is that you will no longer receive a refund. Also, if you withdraw from a class after the first month, you will receive a “W” on your transcript, showing that you attended the course for up to two-thirds of the semester.

Now how about withdrawing from the university? These withdrawals can be either temporary or permanent and entail “withdrawing from all classes at all University of Maine System campuses for which he/she is registered as well as notifying appropriate administrative officials of his/her decision to leave.” Appropriate officials would, again, be either Student Records or, for CLAS students, the Student Services Office in 100 Stevens Hall. Typically, students who withdraw from the university are not entitled to a refund, but under certain extenuating or medical reasons, an appeal may be made. When you notify the correct administrator, check to see if your reason for withdrawing qualifies.

So, while dropping, withdrawing, and withdrawing from the university all mean removing one or more courses from your schedule, the definition and circumstances of each is different, as are the financial and academic ramifications. For more information about the financial ramifications, contact the Bursar’s office. To find out more about how each of these affects your academics, you may contact us here at the CLAS Advising Center, or Student Records, or your College’s Student Services Office.