What feels like stormy weather?

You know what feels like stormy weather? When a class you’re taking does not go as well as you had hoped. Maybe you took so many credits, you just couldn’t keep up. Or else, you didn’t count on your roomate/best_friend/sister/spouse walking out on you and sticking you with the rent–so you’ve had to pull double the hours at work each week just to get by. Well, these things happen when you’re in school, and sometimes, your school work suffers. And, once you get behind, it can be difficult to catch up.

It's definitely going to rain. Lots. Just a matter of when.

Here is the text from an email I typically send during the week before the last day to drop the class (and have a “W” on the transcript). BTW, when I say “typically,” I mean “starting now.”

My goal in sending this email is to support the student who does not wish to withdraw and encourage withdrawal for the student who does. I also hope to encourage the student to make an honest assessment of their ability to continue productively in the class. Most students who are struggling at this point in the class are struggling because they did not do the work and fell behind. I regularly reach out to struggling writers and offer extensive remedial help. So, if they’re in this situation, it’s usually a workload management issue. Also, students in this situation have typically heard from me several times over the course of the semester in other intervention attempts.

Most of this text is modeled on my own experiences and advice from my friend/colleagues, Jennifer Veltsos and Gretchen Perbix.


Hi (student’s name),

As we near the end of the semester, you may be wondering whether you pass ENG 271W.

Today, your grade is F   45%

You have earned 234 points out of a possible 475 points

The last day to withdraw from ENG 271W is Friday, April 6th. Withdrawing from ENG 271W will preserve your GPA and allow you to focus on getting better grades in your other classes.

I noticed that your most common reason for low grades on specific assignments is not turning in the work.

Here are the assignments left in the course (500 points still left to earn):

  • Technical presentation discussion post = 5 points
  • Usable instructions assignment = 100 points
  • In-class work 04/05 = 20 points
  • In-class work 04/12 = 20 points
  • Social media, blogs, wikis, etc. discussion post = 5 points
  • Technical presentation proposal = 50 points
  • Technical presentation annotated bibliography = 50 points
  • Technical presentation slides = 75 points
  • Technical presentation = 75 points
  • Final exam = 100

Can you still pass? Maybe.

Try figuring out what grade you would earn if you turned in all the assignments on time and achieved at least 95% on all of them. Are you willing and able to make the commitment to work at that level?

Try figuring out what grade you would earn if, in addition, you completed the missing assignments (see the late assignments grading rubric in the syllabus). Are you willing and able to make the commitment to work at that level?

Please consider talking with your academic advisor, a trusted friend, or a parent/guardian about your situation and your workload.

If you choose not to withdraw, let us discuss. I am always available to discuss your situation.

If you choose to withdraw, and you are in my class next semester (I’m teaching ENG 271W in summer semester), I’ll help you along as much as I can.

Warm regards,

Julie Stella

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