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Drops, Withdraws, and Leaves

During your college career you may have to make a change to classes or even take time away. Use the information below to review your options. Click on the box that best describes your situation to see the process and timeline. For help or more information contact your Advisor or the Office of the Registrar.

Withdraw from classes or from the term

Drop a class by the add/drop deadline

Courses can be dropped through the eighth day of instruction. From the portal, use your Student Center to drop one or all of your classes by the add/drop deadline. Undergraduate students: Please update Degree Planner with changes.

How to Drop classes.

Withdraw - "Serious and Compelling"

"Serious and Compelling" course and term withdrawals occur after the add/drop deadline until the 7th week of instruction.

Things to consider Before withdrawing from your course(s)

  • Withdrawing before the end of the 7th week of the term is only permitted for "Serious and Compelling" reasons.
  • Serious and compelling circumstances are definable by the department approving the course withdrawal or term withdrawal request. It should be emphasized that poor grades, irregular attendance, or dissatisfaction with the course are not in themselves sufficient reasons for withdrawal approval.
  • Talking to your instructor and/or Advisor about your current circumstances in the course.
  • Seeking out academic support such as faculty office hours, tutoring and workshops.
  • Talking to Campus Health and Wellbeing or Dean of Students for personal support.
  • There could be implications on Financial Aid or refund policy, Campus Housing, graduation, Health Insurance, or Change of Major contracts.
  • Grades: If you are permitted to withdraw, you will receive a ‘W’ grade symbol. It carries no adverse connotation of quality of student performance and is not used in calculating grade point averages.
  • Failure to provide notification or to obtain formal approval to withdraw will be subject to failing grades (WU or F).
  • Students may withdraw from no more than 28 quarter units during their time at Cal Poly for non-medical reasons.
  • If you are only enrolled in a single course in a given term, and you would like to withdraw from that course, you must submit a Term Withdrawal, not a Course Withdrawal.

Process

  1. Request a copy of the Course Withdrawal - Serious and Compelling or Term Withdrawal - Serious and Compelling from your College Advising Center. You will use the Student Request Form to request access to either document (links can be found below under the "FORMS" subheading).
  2. You will receive an Adobe Sign copy of the form in your Cal Poly email inbox. Please write a statement and complete your student information. Once you have completed all required fields and signed, the form will then route automatically to the remaining signers.
  3. Refer to the Student Accounts Office Refund page for information regarding refund eligibility.
  4. Undergraduate students: Update Degree Planner to reflect when you plan to take this class/these classes in the future.

Timeline/Deadlines

  • Students can fill out and submit paperwork to withdraw from a course or term for Serious and Compelling reasons between the add/drop period and before the end of 7th week of instruction.
  • Deadlines can be found in the Planning Calendar for the given term.

FORMS

Withdraw - "Emergency"

"Emergency" course and term withdrawals occur after the 7th week of the term until the last day of instruction.

Things to consider Before withdrawing from the quarter

  • Withdrawing after the 7th week of the term until the last day of instruction is only permitted if an "Emergency" situation exists beyond the control of the student.
  • Emergency circumstances are definable by the dean of the college offering the course. It should be emphasized that poor grades, irregular attendance, or dissatisfaction with the course are not in themselves sufficient reasons for withdrawal approval.
  • Talking to your instructor and/or Advisor about your current circumstances.
  • Seeking out academic support such as faculty office hours, tutoring and workshops.
  • Talking to Personal support such as Campus Health and Wellbeing or Dean of Students.
  • There could be implications on Financial Aid or refund policy, Campus Housing, graduation, Health Insurance, or Change of Major contracts.
  • Grades: If permitted to withdraw from the term, you will receive a ‘W’ grade symbol for all your courses. It carries no adverse connotation of quality of student performance and will not be used in calculating grade point averages.
  • Failure to provide notification or to obtain formal approval to withdraw will be subject to failing grades (WU or F).
  • Students may withdraw from no more than 28 quarter units during their time at Cal Poly for non-medical reasons.
  • If you are only enrolled in a single course in a given term, and you would like to withdraw from that course, you must submit a Term Withdrawal, not a Course Withdrawal.

Process

  1. Request a copy of the Course Withdrawal - Emergency or Term Withdrawal - Emergency from your College Advising Center. You will use the Student Request Form to request access to either document (links can be found below under the "FORMS" subheading).
  2. You will receive an Adobe Sign copy of the form in your Cal Poly email inbox. Please write a statement and complete your student information. Once you have completed all required fields and signed, the form will then route automatically to the remaining signers.
  3. Refer to the Student Accounts Office Refund page for information regarding refund eligibility.
  4. Undergraduate students: Update Degree Planner to reflect when you plan to take this class/these classes in the future.

Timeline/Deadlines

  • Course and Term Withdrawals submitted after the 7th week of instruction until the last day of instruction for the term are for emergency reasons and require approval from student's college Associate Dean. Forms must be submitted to the Office of the Registrar by the last day of instruction for the term.
  • Deadlines can be found in the Planning Calendar for the given term.
  • If the request is denied, the Dean’s Office, from the college offering the course, will notify the student.

FORMS

  • Course Withdrawal - Emergency (E-Form)
  • Term Withdrawal - Emergency (E-Form)

The "Emergency" form links will be available after the 7th instructional week of the fall 2020 term.

Withdraw from a previous term (Retroactive)

A student may petition to have all grades retroactively changed to the administrative grade of W. The student needs to demonstrate and document the serious and compelling reasons or circumstances that resulted in poor performance for the quarter and interfered with their ability to withdraw by the specified deadline.

Refunds of registration fees are not available for withdrawals following the last day of instruction. For more information, contact the Office of the Registrar.

Things to consider Before withdrawing from the quarter

  • Students who wish to apply for retroactive withdrawal must petition within one calendar year of the last day of the quarter petitioned.
  • Students do not have to be enrolled at Cal Poly at the time the application for retroactive withdrawal is submitted.
  • Students may not retroactively withdraw from selected courses during a particular quarter, but must petition to withdraw from the entire quarter.
  • Grades: If permitted to retroactively withdraw from the term, you will receive a ‘W’ grade symbol for all your courses. It carries no adverse connotation of quality of student performance and will not be used in calculating grade point averages.

Process

  1. Students should directly contact the Records Unit of the Office of the Registrar to request access to the Retroactive Withdrawal Form.
  2. Undergraduate students: Update Degree Planner to reflect when you plan to take this class/these classes in the future.

Timeline

  • The petition will be submitted to the Committee for Retroactive Withdrawal for discussion, evaluation, and decision. The committee generally meets once a month. Once a decision has been reached, the Office of the Registrar will notify the student of the decision via the email address provided on the petition.

Take time off for one or two quarters maximum

Informal Time Off for a quarter or two

Things to consider Before taking time away

Process

  1. You can take 1 or 2 quarters off without jeopardizing your eligibility to enroll at Cal Poly and only need to complete the Undergraduate Informal Time Off form.
  2. Contact University Advising/Retention to discuss options and receive proper support to maintain your program of study and access to services while you are away.
  3. Undergraduate students must update Degree Planner quarterly. Adjust your term to zero units to signal that you will be away. Log in to Degree Planner before the deadline during the term before your return. Logging in will guarantee that you are compliant for the next enrollment period and are not penalized with a delayed appointment when you resume attending Cal Poly.
  4. Students who have not enrolled in three consecutive quarters (excluding summer term) and are not on an approved leave of absence will be discontinued. You must file an application for readmission if you wish to return. See Former Student Eligibility.
  5. For information on continuous enrollment for graduate students, please see the Continuous Enrollment policy.

Timeline

Students need to return and register for classes by the add/drop deadline for the term they are expected to return.

If you have not attended any of these consecutive quarters: Then the next quarter you have to attend to avoid discontinuation is:
Winter, Spring, Summer Fall
Spring, Summer, Fall Winter
Fall, Winter Spring

FORMS

Take time off for more than two quarters (Leave of Absence)

A Leave of Absence is a leave from the university, which ensures that your program of study and access to services remain active.

Eligibility Requirements

Before submitting a leave of absence application, you must:

  • have attended Cal Poly for at least one quarter for which you earned units or received ‘W’ grades.
    • In other words, you cannot apply for a Leave of Absence during your first term (your term of admission).
  • be eligible to enroll in the term the leave begins.
  • drop or withdraw from all classes for the term you plan to begin leave.
  • submit a Request to Extend Expected Graduation Term for Undergraduates or Change of Degree Completion Term for Graduate students if the term you plan to return is past your expected graduation term (found in your Poly Profile).
  • discuss the decision to take Leave of Absence with Financial Aid (Financial Aid Recipients only).
  • not have exceeded two Leaves of Absence totaling a maximum of 8 terms (exception for U.S. Military Leave of Absence).

Additional leaves must be requested by submitting a new Application for Leave of Absence prior to the first day of the original return term. Under no circumstances shall the total number of quarters of Leave exceed eight (including summers) per academic career (except for U.S. Military Service).

    Leave of Absence Policies

    Students who meet the eligibility requirements:

    • may NOT apply for a Leave of Absence during their first term (their term of admission).
    • may apply for a Leave of Absence for up to four quarters, including summer.
    • may request one additional Leave of Absence, totaling a maximum of 8 terms. There is an exception for U.S. Military Leave of Absence.
    • must have an initiated and approved Leave of Absence submitted before the leave begins. A Leave of Absence will not be granted retroactively.
    • will be in continuous attendance with the purpose of returning to the same curriculum that was in effect when the leave began.
    • must inform the Financial Aid Office, if applicable.
    • will not be required to apply for readmission or pay an application fee provided that the student returns to the same major and within the time period agreed upon when the application was approved.

    Any student on leave who fails to return and enroll within the time limits specified by the leave agreement will be required to reapply for admission, pay the reapplication fee, and may be held to any new curriculum requirements which may be in effect.

    Submission Process

    Students who meet the eligibility requirements should complete the following steps:

    1. Select the appropriate Leave of Absence Application. You will select either the Leave of Absence - Domestic Student or the Leave of Absence - International Student (both can be found in the "Forms" section below).
    2. Complete and sign the Leave of Absence Application via Adobe Sign using your Cal Poly credentials.
    3. The completed form will be routed through Adobe Sign to obtain required signature approvals. All signatures and approvals must be obtained to officially start a Leave of Absence.

     

    If applicable:

    • Drop all enrolled courses for the quarter requested prior to submitting the Application for Leave of Absence. NOTE: If you have withdrawn from all classes and received ‘W’ grades, it is not necessary to use a Leave of Absence for that term.
    • If your Expected Graduation Term falls within your planned Leave of Absence, Undergraduates should complete a Request to Extend Expected Graduation Term form. Graduate students should complete a Change of Degree Completion Term Request.
    • Undergraduate students: Log into Degree Planner quarterly. Adjust your leave terms to “0” units. Logging in will guarantee that you are compliant for the next enrollment period and will not be penalized with a delayed registration appointment when you resume attending Cal Poly.
    • Note for Freshmen: If you are taking a Leave of Absence in a term for which you have been Block Scheduled, you will need to drop those courses from your Enrollment tab in your Student Center in order to avoid paying fees or being assigned a grade of “F”/”WU”.
    • Graduate students: You should discuss your absence with your Graduate Coordinator. During your approved leave, you are exempt from the Cal Poly Continuous Enrollment Policy. However, all graduate students must complete their degree within seven years of matriculation, known as the 7-Year Rule.
    • Note for Financial Aid Recipients: Students who have received Financial Aid are cautioned to carefully consider the effect of leaves on their loan status; lenders may count the leave period as part of the total grace period. Cal Poly provides enrollment status to the National Loan Clearing House. Students who receive loan disbursements directly may be required to repay portions of their loan. Contact Financial Aid.

    For assistance, locate the Advising Center connected to your college.

     

    U.S. MILITARY LEAVE:

    Students called to active U.S. Military duty should attach their orders to a Leave of Absence form before submitting the form to the Office of the Registrar. If using VA educational benefits, the appropriate certifying official will be notified. Additional U.S. Military Leave questions should be directed to the Veterans Affairs School Certifying Official.

    • Student will be placed on a two-year U.S. Military Leave of Absence for military duty beginning with the term following the last term enrolled and attending.
    • If an extension is necessary, an additional extension (up to a total of 5 years) may be authorized with a copy of your U.S. Military orders. An updated form complete with U.S. Military orders is required.

    Timeline

    Approved Leave of Absence Applications, including a new Application for an additional Leave of Absence, must be submitted by the first day of the term the leave begins. Please see the Academic Calendar for term start dates.

    Once your leave is approved, you will receive a final copy of your Adobe Sign Leave of Absence agreement. If, for any reason, your leave cannot be approved, you will receive a notification via your Cal Poly email outlining the reason for denial.

    Leave Cal Poly permanently

    Leaving Cal Poly permanently or transferring to another school.

    NOTE: Recently admitted students should not use this form. If you choose not to accept Cal Poly's offer of admission, please directly contact Admissions.

    If you plan to permanently leave Cal Poly and/or transfer to another institution, submit a University Departure form. A University Departure form means you will be permanently discontinued from your academic program, course of study, and the rights and privileges offered to Cal Poly students.

    Things to consider Before you commit to leaving Cal Poly

    If you are a current undergraduate student and are uncertain whether or not to submit a University Departure form, you are strongly urged to contact your college Advising Center to explore your options.

    Process

    1. Discuss your permanent leave from Cal Poly with your Department Chair, advisor, Dean or Associate Dean of your college or Dean of Students.
    2. Understand that completing this form means you will be discontinued from your academic program, course of study, and the rights and privileges offered to Cal Poly students. You will have to apply for readmission if you wish to return. The departure form is appropriate to submit if you plan to transfer to another institution.
    3. If you don't want to finish the current quarter, drop or withdraw from all of your courses.
    4. Complete the Notice of University Departure form (link found below under the "FORMS" subheading).

    Timeline

    • Complete this form when you decide to permanently leave the institution.
    • This form will be processed by the end of the quarter it is submitted. Students will have access to their my.calpoly portal for eight quarters.

    FORMS

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