At the start of the semester, many students will find themselves wishing they had more time to decide whether or not to drop a class in the hopes of gaining more control over the trajectory of their college experience.
However, extending dates for class withdrawals isn’t just an attack on the academic credibility of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, but also the very character and aspirations that the student body strives for.
There is evidence to show that extending drop dates for classes is a bad idea. It is generally accepted in social science that ideal goals should be difficult to achieve but not impossible. Setting goals too high makes them too difficult to achieve, and setting them too low yields meaningless results. In essence, lower standards lead to lesser outcomes.
This underachievement due to lower expectations is why extending the time period for students to withdraw from classes is an attack on UNL’s academic credibility. Giving students unnecessary time to decide whether to keep or drop a class means more time to put off the adverse consequences of bad grades early in the semester. This in turn raises the odds that students won’t take classes as seriously. When less is expected of students, less will be achieved.
Extending the time period in which one can drop a class also negatively affects the aspirations of the student body. For one, it contradicts the idea that UNL should prepare students for life after college. Extending deadlines to make life easier for the student rather than forcing them to take action creates unrealistic expectations for life post-university.
Workplaces, for example, demand that deadlines be met in a timely manner and are unlikely to change these deadlines to fit a worker’s time table. If UNL were to extend drop dates, it would unintentionally market to the student body the fictional idea that consequential deadlines are far in the future.
In addition to making students less prepared for post-university life, drop date extension also attacks the very character of the student body. By postponing the date by which students can drop classes, the university makes taking classes less consequential since students have a greater ability to abandon the results of poor performance and avoid dealing with a bad grade.
With less risk comes less awareness and a student body that is careless. Subsidizing these behaviors isn’t fair to students, and the university shouldn’t create structural incentives that encourage and foster disadvantageous habits.
Extending drop dates may seem like a quick fix for students who feel like they are biting off more than they can chew, but such a change would lead to consequences that hurt everybody at the university both now and in the future. UNL should strive to promote the best in its students. Drop date extension would only help them fall behind.
This piece was originally published in the January 2019 edition of The DN.