Managing Your Course Load

Students often reduce their course loads if they find that their mental health symptoms begin to interfere with their academic performance.  While withdrawing from classes can be frustrating and emotionally difficult, you may benefit from a lighter class load by having more time to concentrate on your treatment and recovery.  It is a good idea to talk to your mental health provider about any negative thoughts or feelings that you have associated with reducing your course load.

Did you know?
Students with certain mental health disorders may request a waiver from Services for Students with Disabilities, stating that they are taking a lower course load due to medical difficulties and should therefore still be considered a full-time student. The waiver may be helpful for finanical aid, insurance, or immigration purposes.

The process for withdrawing from classes varies according to the requirements of each college, and the timing of the withdrawal. 

The steps of the withdrawal process for students in the College of Literature, Science & the Arts are outlined below as an example. Click here for a printable version. Please note that these steps may not be the same as those required of students in other colleges, such as Engineering, Art and Design, or Nursing.  Certain programs within LS&A, such as the Residential College or the Honors Program might follow slightly different procedures as well.  Always consult an academic advisor in your program to verify the proper procedure before attempting to withdraw from a class.

If it is…

…and you wish to withdraw from some, but not all of your classes:

…and you wish to withdraw from ALL of your classes:

Within the first three weeks of a Fall or Winter term

You can withdraw from a class by going to Wolverine Access and dropping the course.  No other approval is needed. The course will disappear from your transcript, and there will be no record that you withdrew from the class. 

Go to the Academic Advising Office and request a term withdrawal.  Your elections will disappear from your transcript. You will not receive a “W” (withdrawal) on your transcript, and no restrictions will be placed on your registration for future terms.

During the fourth through ninth weeks of a Fall or Winter term

You must meet with an academic advisor to receive the necessary forms.  You are responsible for completing these forms, obtaining signatures from your instructors, and returning the completed and signed forms to the Academic Advising Office before the end of the ninth week of the term.  You will then receive a "W" (withdrawal) on your transcript, indicating that you will receive no credit for the course. Your GPA will not be affected.

You must meet with an Academic Standards Board member.  You will be responsible for completing any paperwork he/she provides, and obtaining any necessary signatures.  Once these steps are completed, you will receive a “W” (withdrawal) for each of your courses, indicating that you receive no credit for the semester. Your GPA will not be affected.  Depending on the circumstances, a “hold” might be placed on your registration.  If a hold is in place, you will not be able to resume coursework until you meet with a Board member and, in some cases, provide clinical documentation of your readiness to return to classes.  The decision to place a hold on your registration generally depends on how late in the semester you requested the withdrawal, and the severity of your illness.

Between the ninth week of the term and the last day of classes

During this period, you will only be allowed to withdraw from a class under extreme circumstances, such as hospitalization or severe illness.  Generally, you will have to meet with a member of the Academic Standards Board and submit a petition, including documentation of your condition, to the full Academic Standards Board.  If the Board approves your request, you will receive a “W” (withdrawal) for the class.

You must meet with a Board member to request a term withdrawal.  If the Board approves your request, you will receive a “W” (withdrawal) for each of your courses, and the Board will place a hold your future registration. 

After the last day of classes

In extreme circumstances (such as inpatient hospitalization during the last week of the term), it is sometimes possible to receive a retroactive “W” (withdrawal) for a class after that class has ended.  Contact your academic advisor to see if this might be possible in your case.

In extreme circumstances (such as inpatient hospitalization during the last week of the term), it is sometimes possible to receive a retroactive term withdrawal.  Contact your academic advisor to see if this might be possible in your case.

 

Receiving a “W” on your transcript:  Receiving a W (withdrawal) for a class means that you will receive no credit for that class, but your GPA will not be affected.  Anyone looking at your transcript will see that you received a W, but no one, including University faculty, will be able to learn about the circumstances of the W without your expressed permission.

Having a “hold” placed on your registration (suspension): If a hold is placed on your registration, you will not be allowed to register for any University courses for at least one full Fall or Winter term.  When you wish to resume your coursework, you must meet with an Academic Standards Board member for a readmission interview at least eight weeks prior to the start of the term. At this meeting, you will receive guidelines for writing a petition for readmission to the Board. You will also be required to include documentation from your mental health clinician verifying that you are now able to complete coursework successfully. A group of Board members will then review your petition, your academic record, and any supporting documentation, and decide to either grant or deny your readmission request.  You may submit a petition for readmission no more than once per term.

Some special considerations

If you are receiving any form of financial aid, it is very important to understand how your course selections and withdrawals may affect your financial aid package.  Many financial aid awards, including scholarships, require that the recipient complete a certain course load (for example, at least 14 credits per semester) or maintain a specified minimum GPA.  Withdrawing from classes may cause you to lose funding from University or other funding sources.  Some funding sources are sensitive to the concerns of students with mental health disorders, and such organizations might allow you to take fewer credits without jeopardizing your financial aid.  However, financial aid sources are not required to do this.  Speak with the financial aid officers for each type of financial aid you receive (loans, University scholarships, private scholarships, etc.) to understand exactly how your course selections or withdrawals will impact you financially.

If you are an NCAA athlete, speak with your coaches and academic advisors when considering changes to your academic schedule.  The NCAA requires athletes to maintain a minimum course load and meet certain requirements regarding their progress towards a degree in order to retain their eligibility.  Failure to meet any of these requirements may jeopardize your eligibility to compete, as well as any athletic scholarships that you may have received.  Discuss your academic schedule with your coaches and academic advisors prior to making any changes so that you understand how these changes will affect your eligibility.

If you are covered by your parents’ health insurance, make sure you learn how your course selections will affect your insurance coverage.  Many insurance companies only cover dependents who are full-time students (that is, taking at least 12 credits per semester).  If you drop below this minimum course load, you may no longer be eligible to receive coverage from your parents’ insurance.  In many cases, you may also be unable to return to your parents’ insurance if you return to full-time status in the future.  However, this procedure varies by insurance plan. 

Some providers might consider a student full-time if he/she was a full-time student at any point during the calendar year.  For example, a student who took 12 credits during Winter term but less than 12 credits during Fall term would still receive coverage for the entire year.  Additionally, students with certain mental health disorders might be able to request a waiver from Services for Students with Disabilities, stating that the student is taking a lower course load due to medical difficulties and is therefore still considered a full-time student.  Insurance procedures vary widely depending on the provider and the situation, so contact your insurance provider to understand how your course selections will affect your insurance coverage.

If you are an international student, make sure you learn how part-time enrollment will affect your immigration status.  Many international students are required to maintain full-time enrollment, though the number of credit hours considered full-time may vary depending on whether you are an undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral student.  The U-M International Center offers immigration advising services. 

 

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