Dear Students,


As we make our way towards the final weeks of the semester, I’m writing to remind you about options that may be helpful, including support and also the pass-fail option for courses.  Please note that the deadline for changing a class to pass-fail is this Friday, November 18th.  That is also the deadline to withdraw from a class.


Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are struggling in a class and thinking about the possibility of withdrawing.

1)   Don’t despair.  Your professor, as well as deans, the staff at Academic Resources, and many others are eager to help you.  If in doubt, start by emailing your professor (really, he or she would like to talk with you) and calling to make an appointment with a dean (597-4171).  (Or, you can come to walk in hours at the Dean’s office, 12:30-2:30 every week-day.)  You may also want to consider whether you can switch a class to pass-fail.

Here’s some information on the pass-fail option.  All students are eligible to take up to three courses pass-fail over their time at Williams.  Pass-fail courses do count towards the thirty-two required for graduation, so if you are struggling it’s very much worth considering whether switching a course to pass fail would be helpful. A few things to note:  Pass-fail courses can’t be used to fulfill distribution requirements, and can’t count towards the major unless the course is your first in the major.  Only one course per term can be taken pass-fail.  Some classes are not eligible for the pass-fail option. If a class is not eligible for the pass-fail option, that will be noted under the listing for that course in the catalog. You can find more information on the pass-fail option here.  There is an online form to designate the pass/fail option.


2)  Details on withdrawing from a course can be found here on the Registrar’s website.  You’ll note that “A withdrawal from a course 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.”  That means that a good conversation with your professor is crucial to deciding whether or not withdrawing from the course is the right thing for you.  It may well be that, even though a course is giving you significant difficulty, it makes most sense to stick with it (taking advantage of support from the professor, deans, and others.)


3)  If you do withdraw from a course, you’ll have to take an additional course either in the summer or next semester.  You can learn about details on how to do that here.

Please feel free to contact the Dean’s office if you have any questions about this or would like to talk over your situation.  We’re always here and glad to talk.


With my best wishes,

Dean Sandstrom


Marlene J. Sandstrom

Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology

Williams College

Print  •  Email