Frequently Asked Questions
Failure, Deficiencies and Withdrawing
Withdrawing from a Course
First-year and first-semester transfer students may be permitted to withdraw from one course (incurring a deficiency but no grade penalty) as late as the tenth week of the semester. Upperclassmen also may once in subsequent years withdraw from a course under the same conditions.
A withdrawal, recorded on the transcript as a "W," is granted only with the approval of the instructor and a dean and only if there is complete agreement between the instructor and the dean that, despite conscientious effort to do the work, continuation in the course would be detrimental to the overall educational interest or health of the student. The deficiency thereby incurred must be removed in the normal manner. (See Making Up Course Deficiencies below.)
Failing a Course
A student receives credit for a course by obtaining a grade of at least D minus. If the student fails a course, he or she must make up the deficiency. (See Making Up Course Deficiencies below.)
If a failure occurs in the first semester of a full-year, non-language course, the student may, with the consent of the instructor, continue the course and receive credit for the second semester only. If a failure occurs in the second semester of a full-year course, credit for passing the first semester may be retained only upon the recommendation of the department concerned and with the approval of the Committee on Academic Standing.
A senior who incurs a failure in the first semester in a required major course may be dropped from the College at midyear.
Making Up Course Deficiencies
When a student falls behind in course credits because of a failure or course withdrawal, he or she has a deficiency. Deficiencies can be made up only by courses taken after the deficiencies have been incurred. Thus, for example, Advanced Placement credits may not be used to make up deficiencies.
A student must make up a deficiency in one of these ways:
A deficiency must normally be made up before the start of the following academic year, or in the case of a deficiency incurred in the spring semester, no later than the following fall semester. A student may petition the Committee on Academic Standing with an alternate plan.
Minimum Academic Standards
It is the policy of Williams College not to permit a student to remain in residence after it has become evident that he or she is either unable or unwilling to maintain reasonable standards of academic achievement. At the end of each term, the Committee on Academic Standing reviews all academic records that fail to meet the following minimum academic requirements:
Students whose records fail to meet these minimum academic requirements or whose records otherwise fail to show adequate progress may be placed on warning, academic probation, or required to resign.
Students who are required to resign from the College for academic reasons are normally not permitted to return for at least one year from the date of their resignation. A student who has been required to resign from the College may petition the Committee on Academic Standing through the Dean's Office for reinstatement on two conditions only: all deficiencies must have been made up and a letter submitted to the Committee that offers convincing evidence that the student is ready and able to complete work toward a degree at Williams without further interruption.
When required to resign, students must vacate their rooms promptly. Financial aid students must also see the Director of Financial Aid before leaving to discuss loan repayment and renewal of aid in the event of readmission.
A student who fails to meet minimum academic standards in his or her final semester at Williams may be required by the Committee on Academic Standing to meet them by earning grades of at least C minus elsewhere before the B.A. will be awarded. If such work is required, it must be completed within three years unless stipulated otherwise, and the courses must be approved in advance by the Registrar.
Withdrawal from the College in Good Standing
Students may request personal leaves of absence from a dean and, if granted, withdraw from the College. Such time away, often as a period of reassessment and self evaluation, can prove to be educationally beneficial. A withdrawal in good standing may be granted for not less than one semester and not more than three years. Students who withdraw in good standing are readmitted with the approval of the Dean’s Office and are expected to complete the degree without further interruption.