All Campus Email: Changes in Course Re-Take and Incomplete Policies

As #FinalsSzn rapidly approaches/has already begun for many of us, Wesleyan has implemented some new policies which may impact how you address academic challenges this semester and in the future.

This afternoon, Dean for Academic Advancement Louise Brown in Student Affairs sent out an email detailing some changes to academic policies. If you haven’t been keeping a close eye on WSA agendas and committee reports (which are emailed out to the student body prior to weekly Sunday night meetings), you may have been caught off-guard by these seemingly sudden changes to policies that many students don’t even know exist. I do read all the WSA emails (bc I’m a big dork and like to look for fun things to report about), so I was vaguely aware of the new re-take policy, but I had no idea that the incomplete policy was changing.

Here’s a breakdown of what changed, what didn’t, and what it means for students and professors:

Courses Retaken for a Low Grade Policy

Before the new retake policy took effect, students were only allowed to re-take courses which were designated as repeatable for credit (ex. certain writing workshops, music ensemble classes, etc.) or which they failed. Now, the following policy applies to courses retaken for a low grade:

A student who receives a C- or below in a non-repeatable course may repeat the course once. The original grade remains on the transcript and both grades are calculated in the grade point average. The course may count only once toward general education expectations and the 32 graduation credits.

Failed Courses (below D-): Students who fail a course may add this course to their plans during pre-registration or drop/add.

Low Grades (C- to D-): A student who wants to retake a course due to a low grade may submit an enrollment request for the class only during the drop/add period. The registrar will flag the enrollment request to indicate that the course is being repeated due to low grade.

This will hopefully allow students to show improvement in a subject where before they would just be penalized for struggling in a course.  Additionally, for majors like Film and English where you must get a certain grade in a gateway course in order to declare the major, students who do poorly in a non-repeatable gateway course are no longer barred from ever declaring that major. Personally, I think this policy change is beneficial to students, but if you have strong feelings either way, feel free to share them in the comments or email them to us at staff[at]wesleying[dot]org.

Incomplete Policy

I am less enthusiastic about the new incomplete policy. The old policy was that once attaining permission from your professor and dean to take an incomplete in a course, you would have until the first day of the next semester you were enrolled in to turn in any outstanding work. This meant that if you took an incomplete in a fall semester course, you’d have all of winter break to complete your work, and if you took an incomplete in a spring semester course, you’d have the entire summer to complete your work. While this disparity may seem unfair on the surface, when you take into account that most students work or intern full-time during the summer, which is less common over winter break, I believe the amount of time students can reasonably be expected to devote toward incomplete assignments balances out.

In the new policy, students now only have 30 days after the last day of exams to complete their assignments. However, the policy website does note that “Students who started at Wesleyan prior to Fall 2018 can petition for an extension of the incomplete deadline based on the policy that was in place in 2017.” Considering this is my last semester taking classes, and I don’t think I’m in a position to need any incompletes this term, the new policy doesn’t really impact me. However, if this had been the policy last spring, I almost definitely would have failed the course that I took an incomplete in. I was grateful to have the whole summer to handle my health issues which made it necessary for me to take an incomplete and finish my final paper. Had I been required to turn in my final 30 days after the end of exams, I am not confident I would have been healthy enough to meet this deadline. If you’re a student with feelings about the new incomplete policy, please leave a comment or email us at staff[at]wesleying[dot]org.

Of course, students are not the only ones impacted by this new policy. I am sympathetic to professors who, when they receive incomplete assignments at the beginning of a new semester, may struggle to grade these assignments in a timely fashion. During the first few weeks of school, professors must teach their courses while also juggling the additional responsibilities that advising and department meetings and drop-add. I would argue that the time they lose doing this at the beginning of the semester is made up the previous semester. But I can also understand how grading multiple similar assignments at the same time is less work than grading one individual assignment when the material is less fresh in their minds. If you are a professor who has thoughts or feelings about this new incomplete policy, please drop us a comment or email us at staff[at]wesleying[dot]org (we are happy to share your thoughts anonymously).

You can read the full text of the all campus email below:

Dear Students,

I am writing to inform you about two academic policies revised and enacted by the faculty that pertain to Incompletes and to retaking a course.

1) Retaking a course due to a low grade:   Students who receive a C- or below in a non-repeatable course may request to retake the course for a grade.  See Courses Retaken for Low Grade for the full policy.

2) Incompletes:  Work owed for an approved Incomplete is due no later than 30 days after the last day of exams (January 14, 2019 for outstanding work from this fall semester).  See Incompletes/Completion of Work in Courses for the full policy and Incomplete Requests for steps to request an Incomplete, if needed.

If you have a question about either of these policies, please see your class dean.


The deadline to withdraw from full-semester and second-quarter classes is this Friday, November 30 at 5 p.m. and classes end the following Friday, December 7.  The Reading Period runs from Saturday, December 8 through December 11 at 5 p.m., and the Final Exam Period begins on December 11 at 7 p.m. and ends on December 15 at 5 p.m.  If you need any assistance during this time, please see your class dean, who can also connect you with additional support resources.

Wishing you the best for a good end of the semester!

Louise S. Brown, Ph.D.
Dean for Academic Advancement
Student Affairs