New academic reinstatement policies approved

The UAA Faculty Senate has approved new reinstatement processes for academically disqualified students at a senate meeting on March 2. The current policies are bureaucratic and need to be revised, a review by Enrollment Services found.

The new policies for students will enable academically disqualified students to apply for financial aid and include a mandatory advising program. A previous rule required the applicants to earn at least 12 credits before their official readmission.

Lora Volden, associate vice chancellor for Enrollment Services, is overseeing the changes of the regulations.

“Our current [reinstatement] policy does not work, specifically for academically disqualified students,” Volden said. “They may have dug themselves into a deep hole that they have now to get themselves out of [on their own].”

UAA places students with a semester and cumulative GPA below 2.0 on academic probation. Students beginning a semester on academic probation and failing to earn a semester GPA of at least 2.0 render themselves academically disqualified.

Once they get disqualified, students are not allowed to attend UAA for at least one semester.

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Photo credit: Jian Bautista

Affected students are unlikely to succeed in college after that under the current regulations, as shown by data collected by Enrollment Services.

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Only 34 percent of students academically disqualified in fall 2016 chose to enroll in spring courses the next semester. These students completed an average of 4 credits with an average GPA of 1.01. Of the 265 academically disqualified students in spring, less than 8 percent took summer classes.

“Their only option to get reinstated into that degree program was to take minimally 12 credits, usually more, get a C or better, get their whole GPA up to a 2.0 and until that happened, all the expenses for these courses had to come out of pocket,” Volden said.

Under the previous regulations, the reinstatement applicants had to complete their first semester back at the university as non-degree seeking students, rendering them ineligible for financial aid.

Christina Stuive, associate professor of counseling and co-chair of the Student Academic Support and Success Committee, was one of the faculty members involved in the policy review.

There are two kinds of students getting academically disqualified, Stuive said. The first type is usually about 18 or 19 years old; these students, mostly freshmen, might find college overwhelming and choose a different career path.

“But then they come back five or 10 years later and they still can’t get admitted because of this academic disqualification,” Stuive said.

Those students will typically choose to enter the workforce.

Molly Romero, sophomore business major, understands the problems students with a full-time job are facing. She has decided to focus more on school after working full-time on top of her course load for three semesters.

“My biggest challenge was having the motivation to do my homework after working for eight hours already,” Romero said. “You miss out on university events, study groups or even being able to join clubs. Something that’s hard for me is that I miss out on a lot of extra credit opportunities because they are only offered during my work hours.”

The second type of academically disqualified students is older; these students are often dealing with family issues.

“These issues are keeping them from success. They often try to keep going, but struggle a lot,” Stuive said.

The revised regulations are supposed to make the readmission processes easier for all students.

“The new policy says you need to take a semester off, spend some time with an academic adviser, make a plan, but then assuming you’ve met with your adviser and they agree with your plan,” Volden said. “Then you just need to fill out the form [to request reinstatement], we’ll put you back in the program and you can continue on.”

Special regulations apply to international students. Once they become academically disqualified, they lose their enrollment and full-time student status, as well as their F-1 student visa.

“They do [lose their visa status] and that wouldn’t change [under the new policies],” Volden said. “The important thing with the international students is that really from the moment they get a warning, everybody needs to have a more intentional interaction to make sure that they don’t get to the point that they’re disqualified.”

The specifics of the new policies are yet to be developed and expected to come into effect in fall 2018.