The safety net for students who violate their academic probation is quickly disintegrating.
Academic policy requires the university to suspend any student who violates his academic probation. Scott Self, director of university access programs, said students on probation must earn at least a 2.5 in the mandatory UNIV 011 class to be restored to good standing. Students scoring lower than 2.5 may appeal their suspension after fall grades are released, but the number of successful appeals dropped by almost 50 percent this semester.
“The faculty chose not to re-admit a good number of students who were below a 2.0,” Self said. “It’s something we didn’t know was going to happen until the last minute.”
Although Self cannot speak on behalf of the committee, he acknowledged the ethical dilemma of re-admitting students – and taking their tuition dollars – who failed to demonstrate the desire or ability to succeed while on probation.
Successful appeals allow students on the condition they attend a second, mandatory skills class. In addition to the increase of rejected appeals, the number of students involved in the Alpha Scholars program increased. Alpha provides tutors and resources for “disadvantaged” students and students with disabilities, according to www.acu.edu.
“We didn’t know we were going to have fewer students in the first place, and we didn’t know how many of them were going to be in Alpha,” Self said. “We are trying to integrate those two programs to make sure the students in both programs are best served.”
Alpha students will go to Alpha staff for required, weekly peer-advising sessions. James Scudder, assistant director for the Alpha Scholars program, said the change is one of several to help struggling students sooner and more effectively. Alpha also plans to incorporate financial guidance, such as finding and applying for scholarships, into its peer-advising program.
The surprise shift in numbers forced Student Success to make some changes, as well. For a few student workers, unfortunately, it meant losing their job. On Tuesday, several student peer advisers were called into the office for the news.
“I just wish I would have known to search for jobs before school got back,” said Trevor Cochlin, junior Biblical text major from Belton.
Because of the nature of the appeals process, Self and other Student Success administrators found out only days before and told the students as soon as the decision was made.
“We didn’t run out of money, we just ran out of students,” Self said. “We really appreciate our peer leaders, and it’s frustrating that we don’t get to employ them.”
David McMichael, junior English major from Abilene, lost his position at Student Success but was able to find a job by Thursday.
“It was definitely frustrating, but I think they handled it the best they could,” McMichael said.