KSU keeps students with GPA below .5

Regina Garcia Cano

Change allows 157 students to return

A committee put in place by the university decided not to dismiss first-year students with a grade point average below 0.5 for the current semester.

Historically, that has been the minimum GPA for first-semester freshmen and first- semester transfer students to avoid dismissal. But some administrators think they should receive a second chance to start all over again.

“We need to try to help every student be successful, and by giving only one semester, are we really giving them the best chance to be successful?” Senior Associate Provost Tim Chandler asked. “Is it fair and reasonable to dismiss a student after one semester? For many students, coming to a university is a really big change and for some of them, (it) takes more than one semester to get to used to the idea of what college is all about.”

At the end of Fall 2008, 350 first-semester freshmen and first-semester transfers should have been dismissed. The committee, however, decided to allow these students to register for Spring 2009. Only 157 students came back.

Chandler said under the university’s new budget model, “there would be a temptation to keep students in the system, not to dismiss them because financially we’ll gain.”

He said, however, in the long run this would not be beneficial for the university because soon the state will no longer give money to the institution based on the number of enrolled students. Instead, the funding will be based on graduation rates.

But in the eyes of various administrators, some students are simply not ready to attend college.

“We anticipated that a fairly large number were not returning because they realize they are having difficulties or sometimes there are outside circumstances that they have not yet resolved,” said Nancy Mitchell, associate dean of the College of the Arts and a member of the committee. “A family situation that pulls them back home, they have to work a large number of hours and they have difficulty keeping up with classwork.”

Two Ds and two Fs equal a 0.5 GPA based on 12 credit hours. Those students who came back are expected to drastically improve their grades.

Elizabeth Sinclair, assistant dean in the College of Business Administration and a member of the committee, said the students who registered again were required to line up with certain policies depending on each college. In the College of the Arts, students must meet with advisers on a regular basis. In the College of Business Administration, they had to register for a student success class.

Regardless of college, none of the students can take pass/fail classes.

“We would require them to repeat the courses (where students had a poor performance),” Sinclair said. “If they improve their grades, the higher grade counts. So it’s very possible they could find themselves off probation after that first semester (back).”

Some of the academic reasons for students to drop below 0.5 are the difference in expectations from high school to college, as well as the volume and quality of work.

“A lot of students have been able to go through high school and not study, and now in a college environment they need to study,” Mitchell said.

Before deciding whether to make the pilot an actual policy, the members of the committee are monitoring the students’ progress. Sally Kandel, associate vice president for institutional research and student success, said they will look closely at students’ spring semester grades, too.

“We try to provide as much assistance as we could and see if they could be academically successful,” Mitchell said. “We are not at the point of having any conclusions really, or recommendations; we are just starting that part of the process.”

Contact academics reporter Regina Garcia Cano at [email protected].