The Dreadful Letter

Receiving a letter of academic probation can have varying effects on students. The majority of letters of academic probation tend to make students feel ashamed and discouraged because of the choice of words. There is a need to change and reword academic probation letters to reduce the emotional impact on students. Our INTD class has worked on recreating Geneseo’s letter of academic probation. Throughout this process, we have read “The Power of Realistic Expectations”, an interview with Ian Chipman and Rob Urstein and we also worked in groups to create a better letter for Geneseo’s campus community as a whole.  In addition to this, The Dean of Academic Planning and Advising, Dr. Cecilia A. Easton came into our class and agreed to take our criticism of Geneseo’s academic probation letter into consideration. Through this process, Dr. Easton places a strong value on the academic partnership between faculty and students. 

Having a group of students, that attend Geneseo, rewrite the letter of academic probation can have a multitude of benefits. These students can put the letter into perspective and give feedback on the impact it has. When reading and rewriting Geneseo’s letter, our group considered how we would react to receiving this letter and thus came together to construct a more productive letter. Through this thinking, I’ve realized how important it is to be considerate of all students that come from different backgrounds. Also,  many students have to overcome diverse challenges that could affect their academic performance. In my opinion, the letter doesn’t consider that many students have other variables that affect their grades and that is the number one thing that must change. In addition to this, the letter doesn’t encourage students to get back on track but rather threaten students that they will be dismissed if they don’t fix their grades. Geneseo’s letter of academic probation needs to have a stronger value on the importance of students and staff working together to better each other. 

In addition to our group work, reading “The Power of Realistic Expectations” by Ian Chipman has mentioned major issues within academic probation letters. Chipman interviews Rob Urstein in this article; Throughout this piece, Urstein elaborates on the idea that the bulk of students that are put on academic probation are ashamed and feel alone. Academic probation should not be something to be ashamed of but rather a motive to achieve and do better in the future semesters. Universities should be encouraging Chipman’s idea that “intelligence, rather than being a fixed trait, is something that grows over time and can be developed with effort.” Chipman and Urstein emphasize important issues with the majority of letters of academic probation. 

Since these letters have negative effects on the motivation and emotional state of a bunch of students, it is urgent for schools and universities to implement these changes and advocate for a stronger academic partnership between students and faculty to better the entire campus community. 

Rewards of Coming to College

Coming into college I was terrified that I wouldn’t be mentally ready for the toll it would have on my mind, body, and soul. Throughout high school, my teachers would tell me that my professors would not care how I’m doing in the class or if I’m caught up on work. But now, my relationship with my professors are better than ever. I always feel welcome to come to office hours or email them about missing class or missing work.
Being in INTD 105 with Dr. McCoy has opened my eyes up. She allows us to call her by her first name of Beth which eliminates the boundaries and pre-established feelings that the students are lesser than the professor. This makes me feel like she cares about how well we’re understanding the material. I no longer fear asking questions in my classes or lectures to make sure I understand what is going on in the class. Also, I’ve realized that I am no lesser, and no greater than professors and teachers. They want me to succeed as much as I hope for myself.
Improving my relationships with my professors and other students has helped my grades improve and my mental health. Having the fear of speaking up in class gone has been a huge weight that Beth has helped lift off my shoulders.