Nova Scotia has an 89 per cent retention rate in universities. Dalhousie employs counsellors like Dr. Victor Day to make sure those numbers stay up. (photo: Dalhousie web page)

Nov. 7 is judgment day for uncertain Dal students

Drop class with a "W" or stick to your guns.

Monday marked the final day for students at Dalhousie University to drop classes without receiving a failing grade. University students were running around campus wondering whether they should lose a course or drop out altogether.

"I was supposed to have three exams today," Dal student Sebastian Copp, said on Monday while mulling over his notes outside of the Killam library.

The pressure is high for someone like Copp, taking a combined degree in organic chemistry and neuroscience. He made the choice to opt out of his midterms today for a final exam worth 85 per cent.

"At one point I felt like dropping my main class," Copp says. "But I have to have five credits to keep up a scholarship, so, there aren't many options," he added.

Monday was a stressful day for some students – the deadline for dropping classes coincided with the start of the midterm schedule.

For students like Riley Jones, it can take longer to realize they're not suited for certain courses.

A "W" is prettier than an "F"

"There are classes that I'm taking now that I might've dropped, had I thought about it a little more," Riley Jones, an English major at Dalhousie, said.

Jones' situation was different from Copp, explaining that his second thoughts were based more on his lack of interest than worrying about low marks.

"Unfortunately, I felt like I'd already committed to the classes because I was there," says Jones with a shrug of his shoulders. "At this point I just have to follow through with my decisions."

Jones believes  a decent mark in a "boring" class looks nicer than a "W" (for withdrawal) or an F-grade.

The Dal registrar follows the same schedule each fall semester for the final register days (Sept. 8) and the final drop days (Nov. 7).

Two months can fly by

Dr. Victor Day, the director of the Dalhousie Counselling Services Centre, says he knows all about Drop Day and what it means for students.

"With the students we see, many of which are worried about a failing grade, we're always reminding that it's better to drop than it is to fail," Dr. Day says.

The Counselling Services Centre helps students make their own decisions. For students who had meetings with the counsellors in the past, 56 per cent were considering dropping out of a certain class.

"We're constantly seeing students come and go," Dr. Day says. "So a big part of the meetings is also to make sure they know the dates that will effect their choices."

For students who are worried, the Dal registrar offers a table on its website which can help gauge one's comfort in class. Besides this, Dr. Day recommends students--at any time of the year--to make a meeting and figure out where you stand academically.

"If you don't consider your choices and decide to stick out a class or drop it, your fate is in the someone else's hands."

Sixty-nine per cent of students who meet with the Counselling Services Centre have said their meeting had a positive effect on their decisions.

You can find Dr. Day's contact information here.

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