Academic Difficulty--Students on Academic Probation
The Role of the Advisor
At the close of each semester, students who have a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 or higher are considered in good standing. Students with cumulative grade point averages of below 2.0 are placed on academic probation. Students may be suspended from Viterbo University if they do not achieve a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 after one semester on academic probation.
The Role of the Advisor
Many university personnel who work daily with students on academic probation find that those who are academically suspended later make relatively common errors in judgment. Many of these students might have stayed in college if they had made different decisions while on probation. Listed below are some student errors occurring most often and the logic student use to make these mistaken judgments. In addition, basic information to help the academic advisor intercede and show the probationary student his or her mistakes in judgment following each student error.
- Error 1 Enroll in too many credit hours Students think they can "get it all back" through one heroic try and, thus, attempt to make the entire grade point-average improvement in a single semester.
- Assistance: Students on probation should take fewer credit hours, not more. Students who attempt to make large grade-point-average improvements in one semester usually find they do poorer work because of the multiplying effects of more quizzes, papers, tests, class hours, etc. A maximum course load for student on probation might be the minimum for full-time student classification (12 hours). A student who earns more average grades makes less grade-point improvement than the student who earns fewer, but higher grades.
- Error 2 Avoid repeating courses in which they earn below-average grades Students fear repeating courses they earned below-average grades in and, instead, hope to make up the difference in other courses.
- Assistance: Students who earned below-average grades in courses usually should repeat courses as soon as possible--at Viterbo repeated grades replace original grades taken at Viterbo in calculating the grade-point-average. For example, a student who repeats an "F" course and receives a "C" has improved his or her GPA as much as earning an "A" in another course, because the repeated grade replaces the original in calculations.
Students who take a course at another college or university to replace a course first attempted at Viterbo should contact the registrar's office to guarantee transferability. The credit from the other college or university will transfer but not the grade itself. However, it will replace the old grade at Viterbo in calculating a GPA.
Most students do improve a grade upon repeating a course because prior exposure to the course makes them aware of expectations and study needs. Unless the student lacks a prerequisite for repeating the course, he or she usually should repeat the course to improve his or her grade-point-average and to remove the failure symbolically from his or her record.
Contact the registrar's office or the Director of Student Academic Success for further clarification.
- Error 3 Attempt to drop a course after the deadline for withdrawals Students believe they will receive special consideration because of their situation and expect to withdraw to protect their grade point average.
- Assistance: An advisor should emphasize that a student cannot withdraw from courses past the established deadline. The last day to drop a full semester course with a "W" grade is the Monday of the eleventh week of the semester. For specific dates, advisors should consult the University calendar or the current Class Schedule.
- Error 4 Fail to resolve incomplete grades within the time limit Students hope that they can do nothing and have university officials ignore their incomplete grades. Sometimes they fear completion of the grade (i.e., replacement grade for the incomplete) will hurt their chances for continuation at the University.
- Assistance: Students who do not resolve incomplete grades usually suffer more serious consequences than if they resolved the incomplete grades routinely. At Viterbo, incomplete grades change to failures if a grade is not submitted by Monday of the eleventh week of the following semester. Thus, advisors should inform student of the significance of unresolved incomplete grades compared even to mediocre completion.
- Error 5 Take advanced courses with a weak or inadequate background Many students think they must graduate on time and, therefore, must not interrupt the sequence of courses for any reason.
- Assistance: Students sometimes believe they must continue the scheduled sequence of courses in spite of academic difficulties. Students and advisors need to be sensitive to the necessary prerequisites established by departments or through placement testing. In rigorous majors, students should repeat some courses, even when they earn passing grades, if they are weak or ill-prepared to continue the sequence. Often students refuse to take a short delay in completing a sequence, which, in turn, may cause a much greater delay if they are suspended from school for academic reasons. Students should know the difficulty involved in mastering advanced courses in their major and should prepare sufficiently before proceeding.
- Error 6 Taking courses on the advice of a friend Students often are "advised" by friends to take courses simply because someone else found these courses met his or her need.
- Assistance: Students often take courses on the advice of friends. Friends with good intentions may misadvise their peers about courses that are easy and appropriate for some, but difficult and inappropriate for others. The probationary student should place only limited faith in the course selection of friends.
- Error 7 Seek academic or personal help late in the semester Students want to succeed on their own and seek help only when it is sometimes too late.
- Assistance: Students often fall prey to the myth of self-reliance. They believe that if they are not totally independent they are somehow unfit or unqualified for higher education. Such an assumption is neither true nor necessary. Students need to know about resources available on campus and to be assured that using support services is expected and encouraged as part of the total academic experience.