Find Out What Being on Academic Probation Means

What It Means and What to Do About It

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"Academic probation" is the most common term colleges and universities use to indicate that a student is making the academic progress the institution requires for graduation. Academic probation often means that a student's grades and/or GPA are not high enough to continue in school if their grades or GPA doesn't improve. Someone can be placed on academic probation for a variety of reasons, although all will be academic in nature. Non-academic offenses could lead to disciplinary probation. No form of probation is good, as it could result in your suspension or expulsion.

What Leads to Academic Probation?

A school may put a student on academic probation because of their cumulative GPA or because of their GPA in the classes required for their major. A single semester of poor grades could also lead to academic probation. Perhaps even more dire, you may end up on academic probation if you fail to meet the standards of any financial aid you're receiving—it all depends on your school's rules and what's required to remain in good academic standing.

Even if you think you're doing well in school, take a minute to familiarize yourself with any GPA standards you must meet, whether they're for your major, scholarships, an honors program or basic academic requirements. You'd probably rather avoid any issues in the first place than unexpectedly end up on probation and have to work your way out of it.

How to Respond to Academic Probation

If you do end up on academic probation, don't panic. Being placed on academic probation is usually not the same as being asked to leave college. Students are given a probationary period—often a semester—to demonstrate that they can indeed make successful academic progress. To do so, students may need to increase their GPA by a certain amount, pass all of their classes or meet other requirements, as determined by their school. While there will certainly be pressure to succeed—failing to get your grades up or meet certain standards could result in suspension or expulsion—there are several things you can do to make the most of this second chance

First of all, make sure to be perfectly clear on what you need to do in order to stay in school. The specifics of your probation, as well as how long your probationary period will last for, should be outlined in the notification you received from your school. And if you're not clear, ask as many people as possible until you find out the information you need.

Once you know what's ahead, take a look at the big picture: Are there any changes you need to make to your day-to-day life to ensure you reach your academic goals? For example, if you can cut back on some of your extracurricular activities, social commitments or work hours to increase your study time, you may want to do so. Remember to ask your adviser or a trusted mentor for resource recommendations like a study group or individual tutor, because extra support can go a long way in a high-stakes situation.