Being placed on academic probation while in college is serious business. You may have known it was coming, you may have had no idea it was coming -- but now that it's here, it's time to sit up and pay attention.
What Exactly Is Academic Probation?
Academic probation can mean various things at different colleges and universities. Usually, however, it means that your academic performance (either in a series of classes or through your GPA) is not strong enough for you to be making acceptable progress toward your degree. Consequently, if you don't improve, you may be asked (translation: required) to leave the college.
Learn the Specifics of Your Probation
Just like schools can have different definitions of academic probation, students can have different terms for their academic probation. Read the fine print of your warning letter and make sure you understand everything that's in there. How do you need to change your academic standing? To what? By when? What happens if you don't do so -- will you need to leave the college? Leave just the residence hall? Not be eligible for financial aid?
No matter how confident you felt, clearly something did not work out if you're on academic probation. Check in with people for help: your academic adviser, your professors, a tutor, other students in the class, and anyone else you can utilize as a resource. Sure, it may be awkward to ask for help, but doing is almost certainly less awkward than having to leave college before you had planned to.
Keep Getting Help
Let's say you reach out for help, get a tutor, and work, work, work to study for your next chemistry test -- which you promptly ace. Your confidence goes up and you start to feel like you may not need as much help as you thought you did. Be extra careful not to let yourself fall into your old patterns -- you know, the ones that got you into academic probation in the first place -- and to stick with getting help throughout the term.
Prioritize Your Other Commitments
If you're placed on academic probation, you'll need to do a serious assessment of your other commitments. Passing your classes now becomes your number one priority (as it should have been from the beginning). Be honest with yourself about your other commitments in college and, as hard as it may be, cut out as much as you need to in order to make sure your academics are getting the time and attention they deserve. After all, you can't be involved in all you want to do if you're not allowed back in school next semester. Make a list of what you need to do (like working) versus what you want to do (like being heavily involved in your Greek's social planning committee) and make some changes as needed.