The Blessings of Academic Probation

Confession time, ladies and gentlemen!

I’m not a straight-A, honor roll student. I wasn’t valedictorian of my graduating class, and I wasn’t anywhere near the top spot either. I’m not a color-coding organizational master (that is my best friend however, and I applaud her for those skills); my filing system consists of piles of stuff strewn across my desk (and floor…and atop my dresser…). I’m lazy. procrastinate. And yes, my friends, I failed not one but two classes last semester, and barely managed to scrape by with the remaining three. Can you guess what this means?

Yup. I am (and have been, throughout the run of this blog) on academic probation this semester.Believe me, when I got the condemning letter a week before Christmas, I burst out into tears and had a horrible mental breakdown. It was possibly the worst holiday season I’d even gone through, and I seriously considered dropping out of school before spring semester rolled around. Not only was my GPA slaughtered, but I was required to repeat these classes and bring my grades back up or face expulsion from my dream school. The conditions of my probation are as follows:

  • Creating a written plan of action detailing the steps I’ll take to raise my grades (and may I note, I made a really awesome list, but my adviser had me simplify it to a couple of words scrawled on carbon paper. Ah well.)
  • Signing a probation contract with my academic adviser that would go in my file
  • Attending some special workshops at the beginning of the semester, covering topics like Stress Management, Study Skills, Time Management, etc.
  • Mandatory weekly meetings with my academic adviser
  • Receiving no grade below C, and absolutely no withdrawals from any class I was signed up for

At the end of the semester, the probation committee gets to meet and decide whether I’ve performed well enough to stay, or if I should be expelled. Comforting, isn’t it?

Attending all these meetings with my adviser and going to these workshops made me feel like a rehabilitating delinquent, and it took great effort for me to hide my discomfort when others around me discussed their GPAs, and then turned to ask me about mine. I hated the feeling and felt like my failure was scrawled on my face for everyone to see. I didn’t want to be expelled from my dream college, and I didn’t want to walk around feeling so bad about myself anymore. It was time to kick things up a notch.

Midterm week is coming to an end, and here is a breakdown of my grades of yet:

Logic: Haven’t taken the midterm yet, but my weekly quizzes average out to an 87%

Theology: 89% on the midterm, and 88% on our first paper

History: 96% on the midterm, plus a 100% on our first geography quiz and 96% on our first quiz. (Get at me, son.)

Philosophy: 86% on the midterm, with an 80% on our first quiz and 85% on a written assignment

See those grades? Especially those history grades? They’re damn good grades, better than anything I thought a lazy slob like me could ever come up with. Not only am I showing improvement in my own performance, I’m running in the upper crust of my courses, always well above class averages. Even my academic adviser is surprised, and pleased, with just how far of a jump I’ve made in my grades.

Sure, I’ve been working tirelessly because of the looming threat of expulsion, and I wouldn’t otherwise have put forth this effort if that danger wasn’t present. But you know what? It pays off. And yes, it’s probably a silly thing that I’m only just finding out exactly how much hard work does the trick, but it’s still a good thing. I’ve never felt better than knowing that I’m succeeding, and it’s such a relief to just be prepared; whether it’s coming to class with all my work done, or sitting down to a test without an ounce of fear, or even just receiving something without the terror of seeing a big fat F on the top, it’s all just an overall amazing feeling. I suppose I’m finally living up to the potential everyone else saw in me, and I’m proving to my school that it wasn’t a mistake to offer me admission.

Yes, academic probation is still a not-so-good thing, and it’s always going to leave a slight smudge on my academic career, but from now on, I’m going to work harder than ever and never let myself drop down to that level again. Sometimes, we all just need that hard kick in the pants, that sudden wake-up call that makes you stop and reevaluate what you’re doing and how you’re going about doing it. I got mine, and now I’m set on getting over it.

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2 thoughts on “The Blessings of Academic Probation

  1. You go!
    From your writing, I’d pretty much figure that you just kinda skated through high school. (“From your writing” being a compliment and not a cut down)
    Living up to one’s potential is pretty funny stuff. Feels good, though. Even if does make academic counselors smile smugly.

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