Second semester a fresh start for freshmen

Janet N. Aronica

Despite recommendations from superiors, advice during University Orientation or even common sense, some students make the wrong choices and find themselves in an academic rut after their first semester.

“Students who end up on academic probation do not necessarily lack academic potential or have a weak academic background,” Undergraduate Studies adviser Johanna Pionke said. “A lot of it is their motivation to succeed. Mom and dad aren’t around to tell you to go to bed and to tell you to study.”

Each of Kent State’s colleges handles academic probation differently. In Undergraduate Studies, which advises exploratory majors, there are four levels of academic probation. To get on academic probation, a students’ cumulative GPA has to be under 2.0. The student then has two semesters to bring that average above 2.0. If they are unsuccessful at doing so, the student is asked to leave the university.

Kori Falk, freshman art education major, is working right now to improve her grades from last semester. Her academic problems started to increase at the end of her first semester, Falk said.

“I went to class a lot but not so much toward the end,” she said. “It doesn’t matter after so long.”

Something that is particularly affecting Falk’s average right now is a studio class that wasn’t dropped properly, so it shows up as “stopped attending” on her transcript. The mix-up happened when Falk changed her major the same day she dropped the class, she said.

“The extra F doesn’t really help me out,” said Falk, who plans to write a letter to the dean of the college to resolve the issue.

Not knowing how to negotiate the collegiate system is something that leads to probation, said Karen Reynolds, chair of the probation/dismissal/reinstatement interest group at the National Academic Advising Association. She offers a proactive advising approach as a solution.

“Intrusive advising, where we reach out to the student, includes setting up meaningful relationships and monitoring their progress,” she said. “That’s pretty much what the latest programming is taking place around the country.”

Academic probation is handled with a proactive approach by those in Undergraduate Studies, Pionke said.

“Undergraduate studies is pretty intrusive, regardless of the stage,” she said. “We block access to registration – they have to talk to an adviser before planning the schedule.”

One way to monitor students is to block registration. The process requires a student to speak with an adviser, similar to the way freshmen had to speak with a guidance counselor in high school.

There is no lesson such as life experience to engage new students in the college process, Pionke said.

“Living through it is what some students need,” she said.

Contact general assignment reporter Janet N. Aronica at [email protected].