What does it mean to get a "W" on your transcript?
Any time a student drops a class after the first two weeks of the fall or spring term (deadlines are different for May and Summer sessions. See Drop/Add calendar), he or she will get a Won his or her transcript. But what does that mean, exactly?
On the most basic level, a W simply means a withdrawal. It's a neutral indicator on your transcript and it isn't factored into GPA calculations. The only thing that a W can tell someone looking at your transcript is that you once registered for a course but withdrew before the deadline. A W is not the same as your "one-time-only" late cancellation.
Students withdraw from classes for hundreds of reasons that a W will never disclose. You may withdraw because you are not doing well in the course or because your work schedule changed, you are having a personal crisis, you need to leave school unexpectedly, the syllabus wasn't what you expected, you became ill, there is a problem with your instructor, you weren't aware of the registration deadlines, etc. The list goes on.
In most cases, having one or two W's on your transcript won't result in negative consequences. They usually only become problems for students when the W's begin to pile up.
Effects on Financial Aid
Most financial aid packages require that students meet minimum GPA standards and have satisfactory "credit completion ratios." Here at the U of M, undergraduate students need to complete at least 75% of their attempted credits to remain eligible for aid. W's, like F's and N's, are considered attempted, but not completed credits. In short, too many W's can make you ineligible for financial help. For more information about satisfactory academic progress for financial aid recipients, go to: http://www.onestop.umn.edu/onestop/Financial_Aid/SAP.html Students who have questions about their specific aid eligibility should contact a One Stop counselor.
Applying to Grad School
Students often ask if having W's on their transcripts will affect their chances of being accepted to various graduate and professional programs. Because graduate programs vary widely, we're usually not able to answer that question definitively. But, graduate schools do take notice of trends on transcripts. Lots of W's can send a negative signal to reviewers. One or two W's are generally not considered a "trend". Also, it's important to remember that applying to a graduate program involves more than your transcript. Any one piece in your application package is unlikely to make or break an acceptance decision. If you are concerned about specific review standards, you should contact the admissions office of your prospective program.
Making the Decision to Withdraw
If you are having trouble deciding if you should withdraw from a course, you can come in to meet with an adviser during walk-in hours.