A friend of mine was recently removed from an online course. He wasn’t asked to leave the degree program, but was blocked from continuing in his current class at an online institution. I admit I was a little surprised when it happened. Most online programs are designed these days with a great deal of support and monitoring to prevent just this kind of situation.
Schools want you to be successful, to continue to enroll, to reach your academic and career goals. When several weeks passed in which my friend did not submit assignments or post to discussion boards his active participation in the class was in question. After submitting a request for reconsideration he was readmitted, but was then even further behind in the class with limited options for additional lenience before the end of the term.
Online colleges have a reputation for being less selective than traditional colleges, and for granting diplomas to students who don’t do a lot of work. Thanks to greater attention to the online higher education industry, and improvements in the design and delivery of high-quality programs, diploma mills are becoming a thing of the past. The idea that online classes are “easier” is also a widely dispelled myth. As an online student your work will be held to the same academic standards applied to campus-based students.
What is satisfactory academic progress?
Your responsibilities as an online student include understanding school policies and procedures as they relate to measuring your progress. Satisfactory academic progress is often used to describe a student’s successful and timely course completion according to an established degree plan. The term is also linked to federal guidelines for financial aid eligibility.
Each institution establishes specific expectations for academic work. Look for details about the following in your school’s course catalog, student handbook, and new student orientation materials:
- Minimum GPA to continue on to the next semester or academic term
- Time allowed to complete a degree program once enrolled in the first course
- Rules for voluntarily withdrawing from a course after you are enrolled
- Options for leaving a class with “incomplete” status, and returning to complete it within a certain timeframe
- How and when the academic program monitors your progress, provides warnings about a lack of progress and issues “probation” status
- Options for appealing school decisions about your progress, status and grades
Locate your college and program documentation, as well as any specific requirements for financial aid or scholarships you receive, as soon as possible. The University of Arizona and University of Minnesota provide two examples of the information you can find on college websites. You may never need to refer to these guidelines, but having them ready can save time and anxiety if you do.
What can you do if you have trouble completing your work?
As an online instructor, I expect my students to be responsible and complete course assignments on time. There’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be able to continue your studies around challenging work, family and travel schedules. However, I am also aware that course work isn’t always a student’s top priority.
In an ideal world you can put everything else aside and focus on class participation, but we all face a wide range of distractions. Life happens and often in unexpected ways. Your initiative in addressing a problem situation is key. It’s not a good idea to make a habit of asking for exceptions, but if you are enrolled in an online course and having trouble keeping the pace, you should take the following steps as quickly as possible:
- Review school and class policies. Refresh your memory of the processes involved in maintaining active student status at your institution. Your course syllabus may also include expectations for progress and options for exceptions within that class.
- Contact your instructor. I have some say in my class timeline and can make minor adjustments on a case-by-case basis. Approach your instructor with a description of the challenge you are facing, an explanation of your understanding of school policies, and a proposal for what moving forward. You may be surprised to find some flexibility there. We have distractions in our lives, too.
- Consult with your academic advisor. Academic advisors are experts in school and program policies. They can help you interpret the complex language often used to publish rules and regulations related to academic progress. They can also provide guidance on available options related to your situation and assist with the paperwork that is usually required.
What happens if you get removed from an online class?
Every school sets its own policies for determining when a student should be taken out of a class, and what the impact will be on that student’s enrollment in the overall program. Here are a few potential issues to consider:
- Immediate Financial Loss: If you paid for the course, it’s not likely you’ll be refunded any of the tuition or fees, especially if you leave the course after the first week of classes.
- Future Funding Loss: If a loan, scholarship or other source of aid covered the cost of the course you may be responsible for repaying this money. Depending on the terms and requirements of the funding, you could put that source in jeopardy for future classes you need to take.
- Impact on Grades: Does removal from a course result in an “F” or is some other code or indicator placed on your transcript to indicate what happened? An F can be difficult to overcome depending on your overall GPA, which may also be tied to scholarships and funding that require you to maintain a minimum grade point average. Working with your instructor and advisors to either officially “withdraw” from a class or take an “incomplete” are better options if available.
- Retaking the Class: If you are removed from a required course, chances are that you will have to re-enroll and try again. This can add to the overall time and expense involved in completing the program. Further delay of progress is also possible if the course isn’t offered frequently and/or it is a prerequisite for more advanced courses.
Most students struggle at some point in their degree programs. Time management, stress, work schedules and distractions can take their toll. Getting through these challenges takes practice and there are resources available to assist you every step of the way. Tap into the assistance provided by your school as soon as you suspect or anticipate a problem, so that you don’t have to worry about being removed from a course involuntarily. The solution can be as simple as speaking up.
Source: Inside Online Learning Blog