Sample Appeal Letter for an Academic Dismissal

Dismissed from College? This Sample Letter Can Help Guide Your Appeal.

Stressed college student
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If you've been dismissed from college for poor academic performance, chances are your college gives you an opportunity to appeal the decision. If you can appeal in person, that will be your best approach. If the school doesn't allow face-to-face appeals, or if the travel costs are prohibitive, you'll want to write the best appeal letter possible.

In the sample letter below, Emma was dismissed after she ran into academic trouble because of difficulties at home.

After reading the letter, be sure to read the discussion of the letter so that you understand what Emma does well in her appeal and what could use a little more work. You can also check out Brett's weak appeal letter for an example of what not to do. Also, check out these 6 Tips for Appealing an Academic Dismissal.

Here's Emma's letter:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to appeal my academic dismissal from Ivy University. I was not surprised, but very upset to receive a letter earlier this week informing me of my dismissal. I would like to urge you to reinstate me for next semester.

I admit I had a very difficult time last semester, and my grades suffered as a result. I don't mean to make excuses for my poor academic performance, but I would like to explain the circumstances. I knew that registering for 18 credit hours in the spring would require a lot of me, but I needed to earn the hours so that I was on track to graduate on time. I thought I could handle the workload, and I still think I could have, except that my father became very ill in February. While he was home sick and unable to work, I had to drive home every weekend and some weeknights to help out with household duties and to care for my little sister. Needless to say, the hour-long drive each way cut into my study time, as did the chores I had to do at home. Even when I was at school, I was very distracted with the home situation and was unable to focus on my schoolwork. I understand now that I should have communicated with my professors (instead of avoiding them), or even taken a leave of absence. I thought I could handle all of these burdens, and I tried my best, but I was wrong.

I love Ivy University, and it would mean so much to me to graduate with a degree from this school, which would make me the first person in my family to complete a college degree. If I am reinstated, I will focus much better on my schoolwork, take fewer hours, and manage my time more wisely. Fortunately, my father is recovering and has returned to work, so I should not need to travel home nearly as often. Also, I have met with my advisor, and I will follow her advice about communicating better with my professors from now on.

Please understand that my low GPA that led to my dismissal does not indicate that I am a bad student. Really, I'm a good student who had one very, very bad semester. I hope you will give me a second chance. Thank you for considering this appeal.

Sincerely,

Emma Undergrad

A Critique of Emma's Letter

First off, we need to recognize that any student who has been dismissed from college has an uphill battle to fight. The college has indicated that it lacks confidence in your ability to succeed academically, so the appeal letter must reinstill that confidence.

A successful appeal must do several things:

  1. show that you understand what went wrong
  2. show that you take responsibility for the academic failures
  3. show that you have a plan for future academic success
  4. in a broad sense, show that you are being honest with yourself and the committee

Many students who appeal an academic dismissal make a serious mistake by trying to place the blame for their problems on someone else. Certainly external factors can contribute to academic failure, but in the end, you are the one who failed those papers and exams. It is not a bad thing to own up to your miscalculations and mistakes. In fact, doing so reveals great maturity.

The appeals committee does not expect college students to be perfect. A big part of college is making mistakes and then learning from them, so it makes sense that a successful appeal shows that you recognize your mistakes and have learned from them.

Emma's appeal succeeds pretty well in all of the above areas. First of all, she does not try to blame anyone but herself. Sure, she has extenuating circumstances -- her father's illness -- and she is wise to explain those circumstances. However, she acknowledges that she did not handle her situation well. She should have been in contact with her professors when she was struggling. She should have withdrawn from classes and taken a leave of absence when her father's illness started to dominate her life. She didn't do either of these things, yet she doesn't try to make excuses for her mistakes.

The overall tone of Emma's letter sounds pleasingly sincere. The committee now knows why Emma had such bad grades, and the reasons seem both plausible and pardonable. Assuming she did earn solid grades in her earlier semesters, the committee is likely to believe Emma's claim that she is a "good student who had one very, very bad semester."

Emma also presents a plan for her future success. The committee will be pleased to hear that she is communicating with her advisor. In fact, Emma would be wise to have her advisor write a letter of support to go with her appeal.

A couple pieces of Emma's future plan could use a little more detail. She says she "will focus much better on [her] schoolwork" and "manage [her] time more wisely." I'd like to hear more about these points. Should another family crisis arise, why will her focus be better the second time around? Why will she be able to focus better? Also, what exactly is her time management plan? She won't become a better time manager simply be saying she will do so. How exactly is she going to learn and develop more effective time management strategies?

On the whole, however, Emma comes across as a student who deserves a second chance. Her letter is polite and respectful, and she is honest with the committee about what went wrong. A severe appeals committee may reject the appeal because of the mistakes Emma made, but at many colleges, they would be willing to give her a second chance.

If you'd like Allen Grove's help with your own appeal letter, see his bio for details.

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Grove, Allen. "Sample Appeal Letter for an Academic Dismissal." ThoughtCo, May. 11, 2017, thoughtco.com/sample-appeal-letter-for-academic-dismissal-786220. Grove, Allen. (2017, May 11). Sample Appeal Letter for an Academic Dismissal. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/sample-appeal-letter-for-academic-dismissal-786220 Grove, Allen. "Sample Appeal Letter for an Academic Dismissal." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/sample-appeal-letter-for-academic-dismissal-786220 (accessed October 22, 2017).