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Frequently Asked Questions about Academic Standing

Committee Actions and Academic Standing

At the end of each semester, the Committee on Academic Standing meets to review the academic performance and progress toward graduation of DePauw students. The committee evaluates students' grade point averages (semester, cumulative, and in the major) and their progress toward completing major and graduation requirements.

When the committee finds a problem in one of these areas, it takes the appropriate action as described in the Student Handbook and suggests ways of addressing the problem. There are three types of actions the committee takes: suspension, probation, and advisory. Below are some of the questions we get from students, advisers and parents about academic standing.

What’s the difference between academic probation, academic suspension and academic advisories?

An academic advisory alerts you to a potential problem with your academic plans. Often advisories are related to graduation. For instance, students who have dropped a number of classes might be advised that it might take them more than eight semesters to graduate.

Students are placed on academic probation when their academic performance fails to meet standards set by the University. If their performance continued in this way, they would not graduate. So, the Committee on Academic Standing puts these students on probation as a way of officially notifying them that their performance must improve. Usually, when the committee places a student on probation, it sets conditions, such as a specific minimum grade point average for the coming semester, that must be met in order to continue at DePauw. If these conditions aren’t met, the student risks academic suspension.

Academic suspension is the most serious action the Committee on Academic Standing takes. Students who are suspended are no longer eligible to continue at DePauw. They may only return to DePauw by applying for readmission. In considering such applications, the committee looks at what the student has done in his or her time away from DePauw to address the problems that led to the suspension.

Academic Probation

How do I get off academic probation?

To get off probation, you must be meeting the minimum academic requirements set by the University, which is normally a 2.0 GPA for the semester and a 2.0 cumulative and major GPA. In the letter you receive from the Committee on Academic Standing, conditions for continuing at DePauw and for getting off academic probation are set. These conditions are not necessarily identical. For instance, a second year student who has less than a 2.0 cumulative GPA might be asked to achieve at least a 2.25 semester GPA in the upcoming semester. Reaching that goal will allow the student to continue. However, since he or she may still be below the 2.0 cumulative GPA required of all DePauw students, the student will still be on academic probation. When the committee reviews this case, it will note that the student is making progress. The student will receive a letter noting that he or she is still on probation but the letter will encourage him or her to continue making progress.

What happens if I don’t meet the minimum conditions set by the committee?

If you don’t meet the conditions set by the Committee on Academic Standing for continuing at DePauw, you are likely to be suspended. Sometimes this seems harsh but it is very important to the committee that all students enrolled at DePauw have the potential to graduate. Sometimes, students on probation perceive their performance as improving, but the committee sees the potential for graduation decreasing. A good example of this occurs when a student starts off very poorly—with a 1.0 GPA, for instance. The committee will often require the student to earn a 2.0 in the next semester, then a 2.25 in the following semester. The reason for raising the expectation is simple: if the student continues to perform at the C level (2.0), his or her cumulative GPA, which started out at a 1.0, will never rise to the 2.0 required for graduation. The student may be performing adequately on a semester by semester basis, but he or she is not making adequate progress toward graduation.

Why was I placed on academic probation for not declaring a major?

Besides meeting the minimum grade and course requirements for graduation, students must also complete a major. We ask students to declare a major in March of their sophomore year. This allows students some time to explore the curriculum during their first two years and also complete a major in the time they have remaining. Unless a student declares a major, there is no way of knowing if they are making progress toward completing a major. The form for declaring a major is simple – just a few lines identifying the major, your signature, and the signature of an adviser in the major field who has agreed to work with you. Because it is so simple, many students neglect to submit it and ignore subsequent warnings, only to find themselves placed on academic probation even though they have respectable – and in some cases more than respectable – GPAs. To get off academic probation for not declaring a major, all you need to do is submit the major declaration form, which may be obtained from the Registrar’s Office and from the Registrar’s Web site.

How will being on academic probation affect my financial aid and scholarships?

Financial Aid Eligibility is based on Satisfactory Academic Progress, which closely resembles the academic standing criteria. If you are placed on academic probation, you should contact Financial Aid to discuss your aid and scholarship situation. See Financial Aid's Satisfactory Academic Progress policy for more information.

Will the committee’s action be a part of my official transcript? How will this affect my getting into law school or medical school or getting a job?

Nothing on your official transcript indicates that you have been placed on academic probation. Probation is an internal warning system designed to notify students about academic difficulty and articulate conditions for remaining at the University. Since probation actions are usually based on grades and grades are reported on a transcript, application offices receiving your transcript can usually tell if you’ve been in academic difficulty. On some applications you may be asked if you have ever been subject to any academic or conduct action. Law schools, medical schools and government agencies may ask you to provide information about both academic and conduct actions taken by an institution. Note, however, that the main concern is that you disclose this information honestly. An academic or conduct action taken against you might not disqualify you; failure to disclose it may.

How does retaking courses affect my status?

When you retake a course, the new grade is calculated into your GPA and the old grade is dropped from the calculation. This can be a good way to raise your GPA. But there are some things to be wary of. Retaking a course you didn’t like in the first place may not be beneficial. Replacing a D with a C doesn’t boost your overall GPA that much. We have seen a number of cases, in fact, where the student’s grade in the retake was actually lower than the original and he or she lost credit in the course. So be sure you want to take the class and can do well in it.

When you retake a course that you got a D in, you don’t receive additional credit, since you already have credit for the course. Retaking courses can thus lead to your falling behind in credits for graduation.

Finally, remember that when you retake a class, the original grade in the class (usually a D or F) stays on your transcript. It just isn’t calculated into your GPA.

Does being placed on academic probation mean that I can’t participate in varsity athletics?

So long as you are a full-time student enrolled at DePauw, you are eligible for varsity athletics.

Does being placed on academic probation mean that I can’t participate in off-campus, extracurricular or co-curricular activities?

It may. Many of these programs do set minimum academic standards for participation. You will need to check with individual programs and organizations about your eligibility.

Does being placed on academic probation mean that I can’t go through Rush?

Greek organizations, not the University, set the standards for who can or can’t go through Rush. Most students placed on academic probation do have grade point averages below the standards the Greek organizations have set, so they are not able to rush.


Academic Suspension

Students placed on academic suspension will get a letter shortly after final grades for the semester have been turned in. The Academic Standing Committee considers these grades in light of University requirements and conditions set previously in academic probation actions. Typically, students who are suspended have either failed to meet conditions set for academic probation or have fallen below the 1.3 minimum GPA for the recently completed semester. The academic suspension letter includes information about the upcoming Academic Standing Committee meeting in which appeals are heard. Students who do not appeal a suspension or whose appeal is denied must apply for readmission in order to return to the University.


Can I appeal my suspension? How does the appeal process work?

Yes, you can appeal a suspension decision. The Committee on Academic Standing meets twice a year, in January and June, to consider appeals. In making an appeal, students are encouraged to supply the committee with any additional information that may help explain their academic performance for the previous semester and to demonstrate specific plans for improvement. Appeals are not automatically granted, even if there are very good reasons for poor academic performance. In many cases, the committee agrees with the validity of those reasons but feels that the student should take some time off in order to better come to terms with what is causing his or her academic difficulty. Contact the Dean of Student Academic Support Services for more information on appeals.

Can I appeal the appeal?

No, the Academic Standing Committee's decisions on appeals are final. These decisions are subject to review only if there is substantial, relevant information that the committee could not have known at the time of its decision or if the procedures for reviewing an appeal were not followed. If you believe your suspension should be reviewed on either or both of these grounds, you should send a request for a review to the Registrar within three business days of your receiving the committee's decision. In this letter, you should carefully explain the grounds for the request.

Are suspensions noted on the official transcript?

Yes, there is a note after the last semester attended that the student was suspended. The note does not say anything about the reason for the suspension. If the student successfully applies for readmission and completes a semester following the suspension, the note is removed from the transcript.

How does the readmission process work?

Readmission is a lot like applying to college, though in this case information is sought about what the student has done to make him- or herself academically successful upon return. In general, students are encouraged to wait a year before they apply for readmission. Our experience has been that students who come back before they are ready often lapse into the same habits that got them into academic trouble in the first place. Because a readmitted student’s previous grades are still part of the transcript, he or she needs to return as a much better student, in order to make up for previous lapses. Readmission forms are available from the Registrar’s Office and from the Registrar’s Web site or Student e-Services.

If I’ve been placed on academic suspension, can I get into another university?

It is possible, but it is getting increasingly difficult. Many universities are becoming less willing to accept students who have been suspended from another university, even if they are only applying to be part-time students. As with readmission to DePauw, other universities may prefer that suspended students take some time off and apply when they are more likely to be academically successful. Also, most universities start their spring program in the second or third week of January. By the time a suspended student has his or her appeal heard, it may be too late to get into another university.

Most students who are suspended have a pretty good idea this might happen long before it actually does. If they are thinking about attending another university, they should contact it before the suspension is final and begin making tentative arrangements to attend. But be warned: admission to other universities, even as a part-time student, is often contingent on final grades for the semester. Universities may withdraw an acceptance if final grades fall below their admission standards.

If you are thinking of applying to another university, be open about your situation at DePauw. Other universities do understand these situations and may make arrangements for you to attend; however, they do not like to be surprised by discovering that a student they have accepted as a transfer has actually been suspended by another institution.

What sort of experience is best if I want to reapply?

It depends on what contributed to your academic difficulty. Many suspended students really need a break from school. For them, work experience is a good choice, especially if it helps clarify career goals. Poor academic performance is often the result of a lack of purpose and direction, so doing something that helps you develop a sense of purpose is important. In spite of the difficulty of attending another university, it often is a good idea to do academic work at another institution, either to improve your academic skills or demonstrate that you are able to be successful.

If I decide to attend another university or seek a job, how will academic suspension affect my application? Will I need to report my grades from DePauw?

As mentioned above, universities are increasingly reluctant to accept students who have been suspended from other institutions. This is particularly true if the university feels the student is trying to sneak in without reporting grades from previous institutions. An academic transcript from a university is a permanent document. Some applications, such as the applications for medical or law school, require that you supply transcripts of all university work you have done, including classes you’ve taken on a part-time basis or while abroad. On such applications, you may also been asked if you’ve ever been subject to an academic action that resulted in dismissal or suspension. Having been suspended does not necessarily disqualify you, but they expect you to report it.

How does being placed on academic suspension affect my financial aid and scholarships? Will I need to repay loans immediately?

Suspended students will, of course, stop receiving financial aid and they may need to contact organizations through which they have scholarships in order to stop receiving payments. Failure to do so might be considered fraud. There are various conditions for starting loan repayment. If you are suspended, you should discuss your financial situation with the Financial Aid Office. If you return to DePauw through the readmission process, you may be able to resume your financial aid and scholarship, but this isn’t always guaranteed. Part of the readmission process involves reapplying for financial aid. Suspended students who are receiving loans have to complete an exit interview with the Student Loan Office. Contact this office for more information.


Academic Advisories

Academic advisories are given to students who may run into problems in the future, especially with graduating in a specific major. For instance, an education major may be advised that he or she must have a 2.5 cumulative GPA to be eligible for student teaching. A student who has dropped a lot of classes in his or her first two years may be advised that it may take more than eight semesters to graduate.

If it may take me more than eight semesters to graduate, what options do I have?

Financial aid usually covers only eight semesters. Therefore, falling behind in course credits can have dire consequences if you are relying on financial aid to attend the university. To catch up, you may have to take a heavier course load or attend summer school at another university. You might explore the Ninth Semester Financial Aid program described in the Student Handbook, though this program is generally not open to students who have fallen behind because of poor academic performance.

What if I don’t have a 2.5 when I need to start my student teaching?

Then you don’t student teach. It’s as simple as that. You may have to take extra classes in order to raise your GPA or you may have to complete a different major.

E-mail questions or comments to: kjkirk@depauw.edu