Academic Probation

When students have less than 11 credits or have a GPA that falls below a 2.0 they are on academic probation at Geneseo. Academic probation can seem like a student’s drop out sentence, when it isn’t even close. During our class discussion of Geneseo’s academic probation letter, the initial reaction of many was that the college needs to be stern to push these students to do better. Following this view, my classmate’s explanation of tough love was the students on probation aren’t trying hard enough in their classes.

I believe that students on academic probation realize the significance of their situation. Students would drop out quickly if they didn’t care about their academic career. Geneseo’s Dean of Academic Planning and Advising Dr. Celia Easton was a part of the class discussion and said, “no student is admitted to Geneseo if they don’t have the ability to succeed here.” Every student attending Geneseo has value, and was admitted for a reason. Being on academic probation doesn’t mean the student isn’t smart or isn’t trying. There can be outside factors that hinder students from achieving their best.

Students can try very hard in school, but fail due to outside elements. A person’s background, family, and demographic are factors in their career at college. Examples of these factors could be: sickness in their family, financial instability at home, family members in need of assistance, and social adversities. I know plenty of students who had to return home, or transfer to community college closer to home. They didn’t drop out due to a poor work ethic, they had to leave and help out at home.

“The Power of Realistic Expectations” by Ian Chipman, talks about students who are on academic probation at Stanford University. They received a letter from the board that wasn’t having high success rates. Students on probation were feeling alone and ashamed. Students know the severity of academic probation, and a harsh letter will push the idea that there isn’t hope of getting out. Stanford worked on changing the tone of the letter and reactions of the students improved. “We found that students who received the revised letter and the narratives reached out to advisors more quickly, which is one of the things that can help connect them to resources and support.” Mindset is everything, and the letter gave students the confidence to ask for help.

 If colleges start to adopt this research and take more kids under their wing, graduation rates in probation students would sky rocket. Universities need to step up and look into their own probation letters to see if they’re failing to help their students. If action isn’t taken then students will continue to drop out, and there will be a loss of diversity in college communities.

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