If your student has been dismissed from college for poor academic performance (sometimes called Satisfactory Academic Progress), it can be a devastating blow. Both you and your student will need to come to terms with the reality, evaluate what happened, and decide how to move forward. We have several earlier posts that may help you with these stages of the process.
However, once you and your student have evaluated the situation, and perhaps taken some time away from school, your student may be ready to get back on track — either at her former school or at a new school. She may have questions, but she may not be sure where to begin.
Let your student take ownership
It is important that your student, not you, do the work to prepare to return to school, but you may need to give her some guidance about necessary steps. All calls to the school, all e-mails to school offices, all visits to college offices, all application or appeal materials should be completed by your student and not you. The college is looking for responsibility on your student’s part. She should advocate for herself and make her own case. If you step in, you may actually hurt your student’s chances of being readmitted.
The first step for your student should be to determine whether she is ready to re-enter and pick up her studies. Your student should address any and all issues that interfered with her success in the first place. Whether self-management issues, health issues, family issues, work issues or any other factors got in the way, your student will need to address them honestly before she is ready to return to school and succeed.
Begin the conversation with the school
This is perhaps the most important — and often the most underutilized — step in the re-entry process. Your student needs to be very clear about the process of readmission, about the requirements, and about her status once she returns. The best way to get accurate information about all of these phases of the readmission process is to speak directly to the college. If your student is considering transferring to another school, or is considering several schools, she should talk to them all to gather as much information as possible.
Your student may begin to determine what she needs to do by carefully reading her dismissal letter and any material that accompanied it. Colleges often explain clearly whether the student can be readmitted and explain the process. However, just as your student worked closely with an Admission office during the original application process, she should work closely with the appropriate campus office throughout the readmission process.
It is important that your student work with the college as early as possible. She can begin by finding all information available on the college website about dismissal, required time away, and the readmission process. But she should then follow this up with a call or visit to someone at the school. This is not an appeal to reverse the dismissal; it is a meeting to determine what your student needs to do, how she should best spend her time away. This will guide her options — should she take classes elsewhere, complete community service, find a job? Through her conversation, your student will be better able to identify the college’s areas of concern as well as weaknesses that she will need to address. This meeting may also mean that your student now has someone at the college whom she can contact with questions that might arise, and also someone who may help advocate for her when she applies for readmission.
There are no guarantees that your student will be readmitted to the institution or to her former program of studies, but working with the college will allow her to evaluate all of her options, be clear about her status once she returns, as well as gauge the chances of her being readmitted. It may also be important that your student meet with someone in the financial aid office to determine whether financial aid and/or scholarships will be reinstated. Gathering as much information as possible early in your student’s time away will help her to feel in control of her path and progress toward readmission.
Help your student think carefully about all of the questions that she may need to ask. If necessary, help her to find as much information as she can on the website. She should try to avoid asking questions that are answered either on the website or in her original dismissal letter. Remember that she is trying to show the college that she has done her homework and is careful and thorough in her approach. But some important questions will need to be asked, and your student should be prepared to gather all of the information that she needs to proceed.
Stay in touch
Students are sometimes reluctant to approach the college to ask about the possibilities of readmission — or transfer – after dismissal. But the best source of information and advice is the school itself. It is important that your student be realistic about the possibility of readmission and very clear about the requirements. This information is going to be most accurate directly from the college. Your student will also be demonstrating her initiative as well as her commitment to returning. Encourage your student to stay in touch throughout her time away.
Once your student has spent the required time away from school and/or completed any requirements, it will be time to apply for readmission. In our next post, we’ll look at some of the qualities of a good readmission application.