Being a successful student is a job; it requires time, dedication, work and careful planning. A big part of your job is making satisfactory progress toward your degree, and not doing so can have unfortunate consequences. As adult students, bills, work and kids can all take their toll. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you find you aren’t meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements.
PACS places an enrollment stop when a student is found to have too many incomplete grades (graduate students cannot have two or more, and undergraduates cannot have four or more). It’s important to remember that the stop is not a punishment, however. It’s there simply to make sure you have time to get caught up on incomplete classes before starting on additional coursework. Think of it as your insurance policy for successful progress toward your degree.
If SAP is not met, a student might be placed on an academic contract that limits the number of credit hours he or she is eligible to take. The contract will specify the GPA expected of the student and detail the steps the student should take to be successful in the program. In this case, all you need to do is follow the guidelines specified in the contract, and voila! You’re back in business.
If a student’s GPA falls below the requirement (<2.0 for undergraduates and <3.0 for graduate students), probation serves as a formal warning. The student is given a probationary period that can be used to raise the GPA to the desired level before suspension is considered.
Tips for Making Satisfactory Academic Progress
Plan ahead! Really. Do it.
Carefully consider your outside obligations when planning your academic load at the beginning of each semester. Think about what will be required of you at work and at home, and make sure you don’t take on too much too soon. Everyone is ready to have that degree in hand, but you need to pace yourself. It’s better to progress slowly than to not progress at all. You’ll get more out of your experience and can avoid unnecessary stress by keeping a manageable course load.
Procrastination? What’s that?
Do not procrastinate on your coursework. Chances are this is something you’ve heard before, and might even remind yourself of often on your own. Early semester work can seem easy to put off before your courses start to ramp up, but getting small assignments out of the way quickly will help free your schedule for heavier stuff later on. Work tends to snowball in eight week courses, and once you’re behind it can be very difficult to get caught up. Instead, keep a few days ahead of the deadlines so you have a cushion should anything unexpected interfere.
You’re an expert communicator. Now prove it.
It’s very important you communicate with your instructor if you find yourself running into trouble with a class. If you have an emergency and have to miss a deadline, it’s best to get in touch with your instructor immediately. Sending an email takes five minutes, but that mark on your transcript could last. Instructors are much more likely to cut you some slack if you keep them informed of your situation.
Don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions
Don’t be shy. If you have questions, please ask! Most of the time, the “stupid questions” are also the ones most worth asking. No one wants to look like they don’t know what’s going on, but chances are you aren’t the only one who could use a little clarification. Contact your instructor if you’re confused or just need some assurance you’re on the right track. Things won’t magically become clear if you wait, and you could be passing up the chance to show what you’re capable of.
Use the resources available to you
At PACS, we work very hard to make sure our students have everything they need to succeed. We have partnerships with Grammarly, the OU Writing Center, the OU Library and lynda.com, and we provide access to the PACS online orientation, your academic advisor and your instructor. Make these resources work for you and take advantage of the help available. These resources are there for a reason, to help you succeed.
Be honest with yourself about your capabilities
Part of being a successful student is knowing when to take a step back and reevaluate. If you’re way behind and it’s unlikely you’ll get caught up, it might be better to withdraw with a neutral grade of ‘W’ rather than failing the course altogether. Contact your instructor and advisor to see what they recommend in your specific situation. Being a good student also means learning from your mistakes and making necessary adjustments to succeed in the future.
Not sure if you’re meeting the requirements for SAP? Read more about them here.