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    Academic Probation: What Does it Mean?

    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman
    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger
    Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: November 2nd, 2023
    Student grabs his head stressfully as he studies on his computer in the library, because he is on academic probation

    No student wants to find themself in academic probation, but it is not the end of the world. The first step to getting out of academic probation is to understand what it entails. You’ll want to have a thorough understanding of how you got there and how you can get out. Let’s go over how to interpret the rules of academic probation, and some pointers for not violating them.

    What is academic probation?

    Academic probation is a state of enrollment that students enter if they have not been making satisfactory academic progress. Typically, this means that they have not been meeting GPA expectations. Academic probation means that students are on the verge of losing their standing at the school. This can mean that if their performance continues to be poor or gets worse, they may lose opportunities. This can include scholarships and even their status as a student.

    To provide an example, Northwestern University outlines its conditions for academic probation on their site:

    • Earning two or more grades below C in any quarter.
    • Having a cumulative GPA below 2.00 on all work attempted at Northwestern University (applicable for sophomores, juniors, and seniors).
    • Failing in each of two consecutive quarters to complete at least three one-unit courses or the equivalent. Or, after six quarters of residence, failing to earn an average of three course units for each quarter of residence because of dropped courses, F or N grades, or uncompleted courses.
    • Failing to maintain a C average in the major field of study.

    In this example, you can see that failure to maintain certain grade point averages or maintain an enrollment quota can lead to academic probation. But, it’s important to remember these criteria vary by school. Make sure to examine your own school’s academic probation criteria.

    What are the consequences of academic probation?

    Consequences of academic probation vary school-by-school. Some schools will force you to take time off from extracurricular activities. This is meant to encourage you to focus on bringing your academic performance back up. They may also remove you from the running for merit-based scholarships.

    The college may also place restrictions on your course registration for future semesters. You may need to consult an adviser to ensure that the schedule you are building is approachable and feasible. This may seem like a consequence, but in reality, the school is looking out for you. Having an extra set of eyes on your schedule can help ensure that you don’t wind up in a similar predicament next semester.

    Also read: How many credit hours do I need for financial aid?

    Are there any advantages to academic probation?

    Once you are on academic probation, your school knows that you are struggling. Many schools will make an effort to help you out. This can include putting you in touch with tutors and an adviser. Ideally, they will provide resources that can help you to get back on track. If you are on academic probation, you may feel frustrated with yourself and with your school. Don’t let this frustration prevent you from taking advantage of these resources. If there are people there to help you, take advantage of it.

    Can academic probation get any worse?

    Academic probation can certainly get worse if you don’t heed the warning appropriately. You can think of academic probation as a first warning. If you don’t improve your performance, you will end up in a significantly worse situation. This can include an academic suspension. This would force you to take between a semester and a year off school. It could also impact your financial aid package. If even this does not bring about an improvement, you may be subject to academic dismissal. This is essentially expulsion from your school.

    Related: How does withdrawing from a class affect financial aid?

    How to return to normal student standing

    Getting out of academic probation takes a lot of work, but the concept is simple. You’ll have to get back on track academically. This means going to class, doing your work, studying, and earning better grades. Once you show your adviser that you are back on track, you will be out of academic probation. It’s a good idea to be proactive in this process and be communicative with your adviser. If you don’t quite manage to pull off the grades you want, your adviser may vouch for you if they know you’ve been trying.

    What to do if you are at risk of academic probation

    If you are at risk of being placed on academic probation, you should do all that you can to avoid it. It’s good that you are reading into the consequences early. There are several ways in which you can be proactive to avoid slipping further in your academics. Take time off of extracurriculars and focus on your studies for now. Speak with your advisers and professors and let them know you need help.

    Don’t feel embarrassed about your academic performance. This is one of the chief causes for students to neglect reaching out for help. Your professors and advisers are there to help you. If you are willing to put in the work, they are willing to guide you through the process. You can avoid getting into the mess of academic probation before it even starts if you act now.

    Next Steps

    Next Steps

    • If you are not yet on academic probation, hit the books! Take time off your other commitments and focus on not slipping below that GPA threshold
    • If you are on academic probation currently, make use of the resources that the school has put at your disposal. Talk openly with your advisers and professors. Do everything you can to maintain the terms of the probation
    • If you are on academic probation and not on course to fulfill your requirements, your financial aid might be at risk of suspension. You may want to file a Satisfactory Academic Progress appeal to try to maintain your aid

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    Frequently asked questions about academic probation

    How long does academic probation last?

    The duration of academic probation can vary between colleges. It might last for one semester or longer or until specific academic criteria is met.

    Can I appeal academic probation?

    Some schools allow students to appeal their academic probation status if there are valid reasons such as medical issues. However, you should check with your school’s policies for the appeal process if you feel your circumstances qualify.

    Will academic probation affect my future career prospects?

    No, academic probation should not affect your future career prospects. Academic probation is not indicated on a student’s university transcript.

    Can I transfer to another college while on academic probation?

    Transferring to another college while on academic probation can be difficult. Admissions requirements do vary and the receiving school will likely consider your academic history.

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