Academic Probation: Students' Perspectives

Students’ Perspectives in the Academic Probation Process

Click on a name below to find stories from students who have experienced the academic probation process in the past and they reflect common experiences many students report.  We are sharing them as part of our efforts to help students navigate the academic probation process more effectively.

When I failed an important math class, I was devastated. If anything, getting the probation notice made me feel worse. Eventually, I got up the courage to talk to a professor. I went to her office hours, and my story just spilled out. I was worried what she would think. But she surprised me. She told me, ‘You probably wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve had a conversation like this. Every time a person walks in thinking they are the only one, but really, more students struggle than you think.’ I saw that there’s no shame in struggling academically—lots of people do. It’s all about how you respond. When I got the letter I was really down. But I learned something important in the process, about how to face up to challenges, to ask others for help, and find a way forward. That was some time ago, and I can see now that the process was productive for me and helped me grow as a person and as a student.

During the start of my undergraduate career, I was put on probation and struggled to maintain good grades while taking general education courses. This caused me to question my ability on whether or not I would be able to do well once I would start taking my Biology major courses. Despite my insecurities that were overflowing at the time, I couldn't help but think that what I was feeling was temporary and that I had the ability to change my situation. As time went on, I was able to do a lot better in my science courses than in any GE courses (though I can’t seem to understand why). Some of those same insecurities occasionally resurface. I simply look back on how far I've come as a way to motivate myself. I constantly remind myself of that freshmen girl with a 1.56 GPA who just so happened to be myself, as a way to pick myself up and as a reminder to keep going.

I was very busy one semester keeping up with class, work, and family responsibilities. My grades tanked. Still, the probation letter was a shock. I hadn’t thought much about the probation policy before, so I didn’t realize I had let my grades get so out of hand. I was ashamed and embarrassed at first. How did I let this happen? After talking with someone at the UAC, I felt a little better. Eventually, I saw that probation is SF State’s way of making sure that everyone is doing okay. I can understand that, and I’m glad this process is there for students when we need it. This experience increased my awareness of policies and expectations, but it also connected me with the CARP and with mentors who helped me figure out how to manage my schedule. Graduation is around the corner, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished at SF State.

Probation helped me realize I was in the wrong major. I started college thinking that I wanted to major in business, but when I actually took some classes I figured out that I didn’t want to go down that path. Still, I didn’t know what else to do. Without a clear academic direction, it was hard to focus in class and I wasn’t very motivated. My grades got pretty bad. When I went on probation, I felt really upset with myself and discouraged. I felt stuck. It seemed like it was too late to switch majors. One of the good things about probation was that it led me to reach out to advisors who helped me see that it actually wasn’t too late. They helped me find a new major, and now my grades have started getting better. It’s been much easier to stay focused because I have a sense of academic direction.