You’re On Probation

By Theo Albert

–According to senior tutor Huan Hsu, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of AUC student are on academic probation. The term is used by universities all around the world but at AUC, some students are still confused about what exactly it entails.

Simply put, academic probation is when a student is placed on a special program when he or she has failed a course, either in the intensive period or during a semester. Students under probation are asked to sign a formal agreement that states their intent to prevent this from happening again and provides deterrents, in effect for one semester, to failing another course. Below are the consequences and effects of academic probation, as stated in the Academic Standards and Procedures document.

Firstly, “the student will have regular meetings with his or her tutor, for example, once a week.” The degree of regularity is at the tutor’s discretion. Tutor Maxim Kupovykh explained this aspect as the most important part of academic probation. Secondly, “the student will meet the specified requirements regarding attendance, meeting deadlines, achieving grades, or other.” Students under academic probation have to achieve certain requirements that are agreed upon with his or her tutor. An example of this could be to not get any unnecessary absences or maintain a 70%+ grade in test scores. Thirdly, “the student cannot run for or hold an elected office or work for AUC while on probation.” A student under academic probation therefore cannot become members of the AUCSA, student counsel or AUC staff. Furthermore, “the student cannot take six courses at AUC during the probation semester, excluding the intensive period.” Finally, “the student can not apply for study abroad or study abroad during the probation period even if the application was before the academic probation was received.”

The students interviewed for this article brought up several complaints about the handling of academic probation. Tessa Weightman, an AUC alumnus, said that aspects of academic probation, including regulations on studying abroad, were poorly communicated or not communicated at all by tutors. “I wasn’t explained anything about it at all and was only informed that I was on academic probation after applying for a semester abroad, well into the semester,” said Weightman. Senior Tutor Huan Hsu and Tutor Jonathan Gill responded that the details of academic probation are stated in the Academic Standards and Procedures document which all AUC students are advised to read. While they respect that some students feel like they’re not consistently informed, they think that this cannot be blamed on the administration. However, Gill did concede that if a tutor informed a student late about academic probation, for reasons such as getting the students grades in late, this may take students by surprise.

Additionally, Weightman and Annegret Saladin, a former AUC student, both claimed that the actions of academic probation didn’t materialize, specifically the regular meetings with tutors. “I never had regular meetings with my tutor”, said Saladin. This would conflict with the academic probation requirement for regular meetings. In response, Huan Hsu stated that he does not have any knowledge of this happening during his time as senior tutor starting in October. Both Maxim Kupovykh and Jonathan Gill claimed that they have maintained tutor meetings with their tutees on academic probation, to different degrees of regularity. “I haven’t seen instances of this, but that does not mean that it doesn’t exist”, said Gill

All three tutors interviewed for this article emphasized that academic probation should not be considered a punishment. Tutor Maxim Kupovykh stated that it is not “shameful” to be on academic probation, emphasizing that the focus is on “building a relationship and keeping track of progress.” Jonathan Gill echoed this sentiment but also claimed that the real source of emotional distress is failing the course not academic probation itself. All in all, it seems as though there are some major discrepancies in the views of the students and tutors interviewed for this article. While it may be in need of reform, one thing is certain: Academic Probation is here to stay.

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