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About this blog: I post articles to offer timely and substantive college admission guidance on important topics and issues. Originally from New York, I have a B.S. from Hunter College in NYC and advanced professional degrees from the University of...  (More)

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Academic Separation from College: What's Next?

Uploaded: Nov 1, 2010
A Danville parent asks: My son received a letter of academic separation from the university he attended last year in New York State. He did not want to leave and come home, so he has been taking courses at the local community college. Can you tell us what academic separation is and how to deal with it? Distressed Parent

Dear Distressed Parent:

This is a difficult and painful question to address and a correct response is best gleaned from an understanding of the written policies of the university in question. I will respond in a broad way. Generally, the sequence that leads to Academic Separation starts with an Academic Warning. A student with a term GPA below a minimum specified level, usually 2.0, is given an Academic Warning. The student must raise his/her GPA up to the minimum GPA by the end of the next term. The next step in the sequence is Academic Probation. A student who has completed two or more terms at a university and has a cumulative GPA below 2.0 is placed on Academic Probation. The final and most severe penalty in this sequence is Academic Separation, sometimes called Academic Suspension. A student who is on Academic Probation and has a subsequent term GPA below 2.0 can be suspended or separated from an institution. A student with this status is denied all the privileges of the institution, including any university recognized living group, and may not take coursework at the university. Generally, the student who is separated will be considered for reinstatement after one or two years and with documentation of having satisfactorily completed a specified number of transferrable college-level units from an accredited college or university with a specified GPA. The specified GPA is usually 2.5 or higher. An official transcript(s) that serves as documentation must accompany any application for readmission. Usually an Administrative Committee of some kind reviews the application for readmission and makes a determination. If all documentation is in order and the required coursework and minimum GPA is attained, the student may be readmitted.

Academic Separation is a serious issue and students who are headed in this direction should seek immediate assistance from their academic advisors at the college or university in order to get back on track. Separation or suspension is recorded on a student's academic record. Students who are already separated most often attend a community college to take the recommended coursework and attain better grades. Once enrolled in a community college, a student can choose to seek readmission to the original university or apply to a different public or private college as a transfer applicant. In California the student can follow the transfer path to a California State University or a University of California campus. These paths are open to students who get back on track following academic separation.

It is important to note that the impact of the national recession on community colleges makes it more difficult for all students to take the coursework they need in a timely way. Student attempts to enroll in community colleges continue to climb, but actual enrollment is declining because students are frequently turned away. Community colleges are not the safety net they once were and the rule is "first come, first served."

Elizabeth LaScala, Ph.D. is an educational consultant and certified college admission advisor. Her goal is to help freshman applicants as well as transfer students and their families understand the admissions process, research college and career options, create a balanced college list and submit strong and cohesive applications. She is familiar with local high schools and has guided three daughters through the college admissions process in addition to more than 300 clients. Dr. LaScala is an active member of NACAC, WACAC, and HECA and earned a certification in College Admissions and Career Planning from University of California at Berkeley. Contact her at (925) 891-4491 or
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