They've been warned: What to do if your student is put on academic notice
“They’re not alone --
they all think they are.”
WWU's Leah Keegahn gives
students support -- and no-
nonesense advice -- in WWU's
Academic Advising Center.
Each year, hundreds of WWU students are put on notice that they are in “low academic standing” and need to improve their grades or risk being dismissed from Western.
Most are freshmen and new transfer students who need some time adjusting to studying and living at the university, says Leah Keegahn, a longtime adviser in WWU’s Academic Advising Center.
But those who are put on official notice must do something to turn their grades around. Students whose grade point averages drop below 2.0, or a C, face academic dismissal if their grades don’t improve.
“They’re not alone -- they all think they are,” Keegahn says. “The key is to put their pride or fears aside and come in and meet with us. There are always options and resources and we’re very good at figuring those out.”
About 14 percent of incoming freshmen are put on “academic warning” during their first year at Western. Same for about 12 percent of new transfer students.
What does it mean?
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Most get back on track quickly. But some continue to struggle – about 20 students each quarter leave Western on “academic dismissal” because of poor grades. But Keegahn also counsels students who wish to be reinstated.
No one’s a lost cause, she says.
“We don’t judge and don’t assume they’re not Western material,” she says. “We understand this doesn’t have to do just with academic ability. It can happen for a number of reasons: illness, homesickness, not finding the right resources or not knowing how to study at a university vs. high school.”
Keegahn and her colleagues focus on solutions, she says.
“If a student is dismissed, there’s still hope.”
Keegahn knows this first hand. She first came to Western nearly 20 years ago as a new transfer student with plans to major in marine biology. But she quickly ran into trouble without the background in math and science she needed to be successful. She continued to struggle, but didn’t improve her grades enough to avoid academic dismissal.
When, terrified, she finally told her parents, she was surprised at their reaction.
“They were very supportive,” she remembers. “They still believed in me as a student. They believed in my academic potential.”
Keegahn was soon reinstated, this time as a Sociology major, and graduated. The academic dismissal on her record never came up again, not when she applied to graduate school or when she applied for a job.
And it’s actually an advantage in her current position: “I came back and worked in the same office where I bawled my eyes out in ’91,” she says. “I’m very passionate about talking to students who are feeling deflated or who need to have a reality check.”
What does it mean?
Here are some definitions for the terms related to low scholarship. Contact the Academic Advising Center to learn more.
Academic warning: Issued to students who earn less than a C average (a 2.0) for the quarter, but whose cumulative GPA is above a C. Also, freshmen and transfers who earn less than a C average during their first quarter receive an academic warning.
Academic probation: Issued to any student, except for first-quarter students, whose cumulative GPA falls below a C.
Continuing probation: Students on academic probation who earn at least a C average that quarter, but don’t raise their cumulative GPA above C, are placed on continuing probation. The following quarter, students must raise their cumulative GPA to at least a C, or earn a C+ average for the quarter.
Academic dismissal: Students on academic probation who don’t earn at least a C average for the quarter are dismissed from the university. Students on continuing probation who don’t earn a cumulative C average, or a C+ for that quarter, are also dismissed.
Reinstatement: Students who have been dismissed for academic reasons may petition the Scholastic Standing Committee to be reinstated. Reinstatement is guaranteed if students have taken at least four classes, or 15 credits, toward a bachelor’s degree since being dismissed, and they’ve earned a cumulative GPA of 3.3, or a B+ average.