University enacts new retake policy
From now on, students in the College of Arts & Sciences wishing to retake a course will have additional hurdles to overcome this semester.
The final decision on whether a student can retake a course now belongs to the department offering the course.
According to an e-mail from the College of Arts & Sciences, “the student must pick up a Retake Form in the College Office, obtain the first instructor’s signature, follow the instructions on the form and file the form before retaking the course.”
When senior Jim Wolfe read the e-mail, he became frustrated.
“I first thought to myself, if Wash. U.’s aim is to make its students’ lives more difficult for their own fantasies of endless paperwork to show off their authority, then they have succeeded admirably,” Wolfe said.
After rethinking the policy change, Wolfe became more understanding, but he still remains skeptical about the change.
“After a while, I realized there was a valid case to be made on behalf of this policy change,” Wolfe said. “But the lack of explanation in the e-mail still makes me wonder about the official justification. Is creating potential barriers for those students who want to take advantage of the retake option really the best way to serve everyone’s needs?”
If permission is granted to the student to retake a course, a permanent “R” will appear next to the grade earned in the retaken class.
The new policy says, “Both registrations will show on the transcript. The symbol R will appear next to the grade, not over the grade, for the first enrollment, but only the grade and units of the second enrollment will be used to calculate the GPA.”
“The [main] difference between the new policy and the old one is that the first grade remains visible,” said Warren Davis, assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences. “Arts & Sciences has for many years been the only [University] undergraduate school that did not show the first grade.”
According to Davis, several factors went into the decision.
“Bringing [The College of Arts & Sciences] in line with other [University] schools and providing graduate schools with missing information were two of the inspirations behind the change,” Davis said. “Medical schools and other professional [programs] typically ask to see the first grade [and] Student Records was having to receive the replaced grades.”
In addition, Davis said that the former system could have caused graduate programs to interpret certain grades on students’ transcripts as failing grades. With the new notation, Davis says, schools will have a better understanding as to what the “R” signifies.
“The new policy just adds more transparency to the transcript,” Davis said. “Now, instead of interpreting the ‘R’ as a failing grade, the transcript reviewer sees all grades. Nothing is hidden.”