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Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
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Academic Distress

Academic Distress

From time to time all of us will encounter a student in academic trouble in one or more classes. Sometimes this is the result of medical, psychological or social adjustment problems that the staff in Student Affairs attempts to resolve [see the one-page primer titled I Think This Kid Might be in Trouble]. Sometimes it's related to serious issues involving substance abuse or other problems that can lead to judicial actions on and off campus. Sometimes it's just a minor misstep in an otherwise successful college career.

Whatever the cause, or the seriousness of any underlying problems, students in academic distress, and their advisers, need to know about some rules, regulations and special policies that might come into play in connection with academic performance problems.

Academic Probation and the Automatic Rule
According to recently revised catalog language, students are placed on academic probation whenever their term GPA, or cumulative GPA, falls below 2.000. With the new spring term this could mean that probation is triggered by one bad grade in a single spring term course. Students placed on probation have one term to change their status by earning a term and a cumulative GPA above 2.000. The automatic rule provides for mandatory suspension whenever students meet specified definitions of weak academic performance, including the failure to move off of probation. First-year students who are unable to earn a fall term GPA of 1.000 or above are subject to the automatic rule. Students on academic probation should be warned about their precarious position and urged to reduce extracurricular activities. They may need to work on study skills or the resolution of personal issues that can contribute to the academic problems. They almost always need special attention from their faculty adviser about progress being made to end the probationary status.

Administrative Withdrawal for Academic Reasons
It is not widely known, but students who take an unauthorized under-load or have unapproved extended absences from classes (missing two weeks or more without contacting an appropriate Dean's office) may be required to withdraw from the university.

Repeating a Course
Students may, if they choose, repeat a course and use the second grade in the calculation of their GPA. There are catalog rules that govern and restrict the course repetition process and students should read that catalog language carefully before enrolling in any course that they have already completed. Of course, credit can only be earned once for any course and repeating courses often involves the danger of falling behind in progress toward graduation.

Reinstatement
Students who are suspended from the university under the automatic rule, or leave due to administrative withdrawal for academic or non-academic reasons, may apply for readmission following procedures summarized in the catalog.