Academic Probation

Why Academic Probation Outreach Is Important

We care about every student who has selected CSU for their higher education journey, and believe that with the right resources every student can be successful. The role of Academic Support Coordinator and Academic Advisor is much more than course mapping and registration assistance. We are teachers, coaches, and mentors. We embrace a developmental approach to academic advising. Our goal is to assist students in learning important life skills that extend far beyond the classroom. The experience of being on academic probation, with the right support, can be a positive one. Through the outreach process, students will learn how to identify areas for growth, how to seek help and resources, and how to establish solutions and goals. 1 out of 18 CSU students is on academic probation. This is a large portion of our undergraduate population. Many of them, with the help of a caring campus contact, will return to good academic standing. Helping a student avoid academic dismissal keeps them on the path to a Bachelors Degree, and positively impacts the quality of the rest of their life. A little investment now, results in great returns later.

Why Are Students On Academic Probation?

It would be hard to capture in a single list the many reasons that students find themselves on academic probation. It’s important not to assume why a student is facing academic difficulties. Instead, it’s best to ask and listen. Have a discussion with each student, gently guided by open-ended questions. Many departments have also had great success using a standardized questionnaire, where students are asked to check off items that pertain to them. This is a great way for a student to identify an issue that may be difficult to vocalize. It can help get the conversation started.

Here are some common reasons that students fall out of good academic standing:

  • Poor time management skills
  • Ineffective or inefficient study skills
  • Unsure of their major or career goals
  • Financial struggles and/or working too many hours
  • Learning differences or learning disabilities
  • Stress, anxiety, depression, addiction
  • Prioritizing social opportunities over academics
  • Medical or health Issue
  • Trouble connecting with peers or feeling like they don’t belong at CSU
  • Family responsibilities
  • Inadequate housing or roommate conflicts

What Outreach Style Fits Me?

So you’ve identified your probations students. Now what? There are many ways to approach academic probation outreach. You and your department have many options to choose from when alerting and supporting students who have fallen out of good academic standing. Your preferred outreach style will be dependent on many factors:

Constraints on your time. How quick and efficient do you need to be? Can large chunks of time be carved out of your calendar, or will you need to find ways to condense the outreach? Will it be electronic or face-to-face? One-on-one or in a group setting? A single contact, or reoccurring interactions?

Size of your probation population. The number of students you need to reach will determine if an individual personalized or all-encompassing mass outreach effort is a better choice. The type of support academic probation students need is certainly not one-size-fits all, but some circumstances might justify a one-size-fits-most approach. Weigh the pros and cons of each option.

Available budget. Outreach can be as simple and zero-cost as an email, or it can be as complex as a multi-week workshop with related expenses. Will your preferred method of outreach require any special supplies: such as food, retreat space, assigned texts, software, or general study materials?

Time of year. The type of outreach you do will be impacted by the seasonality of the academic year. Consider how a Fall/Spring outreach plan might be different from a Summer plan. Several support programs, such as tutoring services, are not available in the summer. And many students can find themselves far from campus, including out of the state or the country. Outreach efforts should be sensitive to these fluctuations.

Department Culture and Tone: Students’ response rates and level of involvement in your outreach efforts can vary widely. Some will gladly accept your offer for help, while others will refuse it. So ask yourself, will the outreach be voluntary or required? Can students opt in and out as they wish? Will the outreach be accompanied by a system of rewards and/or consequences? Consider what sort of philosophy will be embraced by your unit.

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