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Opinion: The academic probation resources offered on campus are sufficient for students

Updated: May 3, 2023

Priya Thoren

Staff Writer

Graphic by Maizy Goerlitz

Students on academic probation have to live with the fear of the effects it might have on on-campus life. Academic probation is based on various factors, primarily GPA and credits earned, but the limits of Academic Probation can easily cause confusion for students that are unfamiliar with the process.

Student Support Advisor Jessica Cardinal-Lanier said in an interview that there are five different academic statuses at WU: good standing, academic warning, academic probation, academic suspension and academic dismissal. “Within academic probation, there are three types of probation: straight up academic probation, academic probation pending the resolution of incomplete grades and continued probation. Some students may have incomplete grades from the previous semester that are impacting their GPA, and they'll be on probation until those incompletes are resolved,” she explained.

As previously mentioned, academic probation is not determined by a single element. The Academic Status Committee is presented with compiled student records at the end of every semester. If a student’s major GPA, minor GPA, cumulative GPA or semester GPA falls below a 2.0, that is some cause for concern. If a student is behind on credit, that is also looked at as well, according to Cardinal-Lanier.

For those students who do meet the criteria for academic probation, what does this mean for other parts of their experience at WU? Students on academic probation are not prohibited from holding on-campus jobs, unless it is a leadership position, some of which are: Resident Advisors, Colloquium Associates, CAS Admission Ambassadors and PNCA Orientation Ambassadors.

“Basic student worker positions—folks that work here in our office or maybe at the library, or if they are a barista…they can be on probation and have those jobs,” Cardinal-Lanier clarified.

Although the university cannot formally have a student rescind their on-campus job positions—aside from leadership positions—they can provide advice based on the situation being faced.

Cardinal-Lanier explained how she would confront an issue of this caliber. She would assess how this job supports the student, and if they really need to work financially. It is important to note that some students simply want a job, while others need the income it provides.

“We just want to make sure that when a student is on probation, that they are prioritizing their academics. So if a job is not something that they have to do, and if those hours are conflicting with academics, then then we'll have that discussion…If the student says they're struggling with time management… let's have an honest conversation about what's going on,” she said.

Although some policies at the university have shifted over time, in recent years, the academic probation regulations have remained virtually unchanged. The policy that is currently in the catalogue has been in place for the past six or seven years, she said.

Besides the financial support that jobs provide, scholarships are another big source of aid that some students are granted.

“If we're talking your traditional merit-based scholarship, academic probation is separate from financial aid…The Financial Aid Office does use GPA and credits earned to determine a student's financial aid eligibility, but it's slightly different thresholds…they're not looking at semester GPA. So while credits and GPA are looked at for both processes and how they determine the status for those, they are determined separately. The students who retain their merit-based scholarship would need to make sure that they are falling within the Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy. Students who fall into financial aid suspension, can petition to reinstate their financial aid,” Cardinal-Lanier described.

Although academic probation is not meant to be a punitive measure, Cardinal-Lanier does understand why students feel that it can be sometimes. She, along with the university, likes to approach probation from a very supportive standpoint. This is done by making sure that the student feels supported during the semester, that they are aware of the resources that are available on campus, she said. “It's always my goal when I work with students on probation to support them to the best of my ability, so that they move off probation back into good standing,” she concluded.

Gabby Keeve (‘25) offered a student perspective on the topic of academic probation. Keeve did not know that academic probation affects the ability that students have to hold jobs on campus, she said.

Although Keeve had no previous knowledge on the subject, she does believe that the policies in place are logical. “...It makes sense that [students on academic probation] can’t hold positions of leadership while on academic probation, but they should definitely be able to keep their job,” she explained.

Unfortunately, academic probation does appear to be a stress-inducing policy for Willamette students.

“If you have a helpful advisor, maybe they can be a resource. But… I know you can’t do sports and probably theater while on probation, but there’s not much information about [probation] that I’ve seen,” Keeve said.

Isaiah Yanez (‘26) also had minimal prior knowledge regarding academic probation on campus. “I’m not sure how I feel about whether or not [students on academic probation] can hold jobs… but it does somewhat make sense that they can still hold on-campus jobs,” he offered.

In regards to the overall policies, Yanez had a fluctuation of opinion. “It seems to be more like a case-by-case kind of thing,” he explained.

Academic probation at Willamette serves as a nudge to students to better their grade management. There is constant support for said students which can help to alleviate any panic that they may feel over being put on probation. Despite this, many students on campus still fear probation and associate it with stress and isolation. “From what I've heard, academic probation doesn’t really do anything super helpful for students, just stress them out,” said Keeve. This is why it is important that students know that there are resources available to them, added worries will only serve to decrease the quality of their academic performance. The support system that is currently available appears to be an adequate piecing together of helpful resources for struggling students.

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