What is academic probation for college students?
Students who are struggling academically can face a variety of consequences if their performance does not improve such as academic probation. Each step along the way has its own labels and set of requirements for the student. There are some common terms used by most universities, but there is no universal rule of how each is administered or even how each term is defined. The best course of action is to review your college’s policies regarding academics and what is required of students to maintain acceptable academic progress. The standard of acceptable academic progress varies by university and even among majors within the same university. Usually, academic progress refers to an acceptable grade point average(GPA) as well as the number of accumulated credits. It is possible to have an acceptable GPA but still have academic problems due to too few credit hours being completed. The credit hour deficiency can be a result of withdrawing from or dropping too many classes.
Some of the terms used by universities in their academic policies include:
Academic Warning is a term that is used in two different ways. Some colleges issue an academic warning if the GPA for a given semester falls below a minimum accepted level. As the term suggests, it is a warning signal to the student to take action to prevent further poor performance. There is usually no record of the status attached to the student’s transcripts. No specific requirements accompany the status, but students are encouraged to visit academic counselors to determine the best course of action to improve their performance.
For some universities, the term academic warning is used in place of academic probation. It is a much more serious status as discussed below.
A student placed on academic probation is notified that their performance is not up to the university’s standards. That deficiency can be about overall GPA or in some cases from a semester GPA or too few credits. The status typically carries with it a standard of performance for the following semester. Students are given a minimum GPA to be obtained the following semester as well standards for improving academic progress. Should the requirements not be met in the time required the student will be placed on academic suspension. Students are encouraged or even required to meet with academic advisors as a part of their probation. The purpose of the meeting is to plan the best courses and course load to help the student recover.
Academic Suspension prevents the student from enrolling for the following semester. Typically any summer semesters are not counted to fulfill the suspension though the student cannot enroll then either. Once the student has sat out a semester, he may enroll again. Students returning from suspension are placed on a probationary status with very strict standards on what the student must accomplish in that semester. Again the standards vary by university, but most include a minimum GPA as well as a minimum number of credits to be earned. If a student does not meet those standards the final step is taken, and they are dismissed.
This final step is reached when a student fails to make satisfactory progress after returning from academic suspension. At that point, the student is dismissed from the university and will not be allowed to enroll again. This does not prevent the student from enrolling at another institution, but it can make it more difficult.
How it is determined?
Semester GPA is just the total for the most recent semester completed. This number can fluctuate dramatically from semester to semester. Each letter grade has a corresponding number of points. On the more common four point scale, an A is four points, a B is 3 points and so on. The points earned for the class is multiplied by the number of credits. This weights the average so that an A in a 3-hour class is more important than an A in a one-hour lab. The resulting value for all of the classes are totaled, and that number is divided by the total number of hours taken. The resulting number is the student’s GPA.
The cumulative grade point average is an average of all classes completed at that institution. It is calculated in the same manner as the semester GPA except that it includes all classes taken at that school. The more hours that are included in the average, the less the average will change significantly. It is important for students to begin with a higher GPA as it becomes more difficult to raise their cumulative GPA without making major changes in their performance on a consistent basis. Similarly, if a student has a solid GPA, then a semester with lower grades will not decrease the cumulative average.
Academic progress is a quantitative measure of the progress made toward completion of a degree. Institutions are required by the government to establish their own definition of how long that time frame should be. The maximum allowed time is 150% of the typical time needed and most universities utilize that percentage in calculations. A four-year degree’s progress would be measured against a time frame of six years. In that example, a student is expected to accumulate enough credits in their degree plan to graduate in six years. If they do, they are deemed to have satisfactory academic progress. If they fall behind that six-year pace, their progress is unsatisfactory and can trigger academic warning or probation.
The particular standards and requirements for you particular institution should be checked as these are only general descriptions of the terms
In helping your student deal with academic struggles, it is important to understand and identify potential causes of the problem. Unless the problems are identified, then it will be difficult assisting in finding the solutions. There are a variety of issues which may contribute to their struggles including:
College isn’t high school. That is not an earthshaking revelation. Some students can make it through high school with relatively little effort. College classes are a shock to them because they have not developed the study skills needed to succeed or even survive in college. Students can find themselves