Academic Probation Information

The Hardest Thing About Academic Probation is Telling Your Grandparents

Questions, Answers and FACTS about Academic Probation at Purdue University North Central
Fourth Edition; By Linda Duttlinger, Ph.D., Associate Professor for Developmental Studies


Everyone who has had the experience of being placed on Academic Probation has a story. Here’s mine.

I was a first-semester sophomore and had just transferred from the North Central campus to West Lafayette. My grades were about average. I was confident of my abilities and had eagerly anticipated campus life and my coursework. I soon found that I was miserably homesick, taking courses that were beyond my abilities, (even though I had easily passed the prerequisites) and I had no idea of how to help myself.

Five credit hours of F in calculus and three hours of D in foreign language sealed my fate. I was placed on Academic Probation.

I was embarrassed and very confused. What went wrong? I wasn’t an A student but I’d never done this poorly before. Maybe I didn’t belong in college. Perhaps my academic goals were unreachable. I had many questions, as did my parents, about this thing called “Probation,” and precious few places to find answers. To finish the story, I stayed in school (with a different major), my academic career continued and my parents assured me that I had not tarnished the family name.

This booklet was written to help provide answers to some of the most common questions asked about probation. It is not intended to be the final answer, but just to give some general information you may need at this time. For answers to more specific questions concerning your situation, contact the proper office here at Purdue University North Central.

Probation is NOT the end of an academic career. I made it. So can you.


Q. What is Academic Probation and how did it happen to ME?

A. Academic Probation is a WARNING that your grades are dangerously low and you are in peril of being dropped from the University. (Dropped is usually called “flunking out.” Definitely something to avoid at all costs!)

You were placed on Academic Probation because your grade point average (GPA) (either overall or semester) fell below a certain level. The exact index level changes depending on where you are in your college career. Your classification reflects your college experience. You usually move up a classification for every 15 credit hours you have finished. If you don’t know your classification, contact the office of registration.

Freshmen with a classification of a 1 or a 2, are given more leniency than a senior with a 7 or 8. Check your classification, look at the table and see what the probation level is for you. Your grades were below that number and you are now on Academic Probation.


Index Levels for Probation
Classification Semester Index Graduation Index
8 and up

Q. I only took ONE little course?!? How can I go on Probation? I’m not even a full-time student.

A. Purdue makes no distinction between full-or part-time status for Probation. If your grades fall below those on the table, you are placed on Probation. For many students taking just “one little course,” and receiving a D or F will do it.

Q. HOLD IT!! D is a passing grade. How can I go on Probation if I didn’t flunk anything?

A. Remember, Probation is a WARNING! D is for danger! You are too close to failing for Purdue to ignore your situation. So, we give you a jolt and remind you how close you really are. We want you to stay in school. There is a big difference between a D and an F. If you received a D, you received a passing grade and that may be all you need. However, a course with an F means you have failed it and probably will have to repeat it.

Q. Does Probation mean I’m kicked out of school and can’t come next semester?

A. NO! It is a WARNING that you might be if you don’t improve your grades this next semester. You should continue in school and pursue your academic goals.

Q. So, now what do I do?

A. Evaluate your situation and honestly answer this question…”Why did I end up on Probation?” This is no time to place blame or fault, the damage is done. Try to determine the reason for your grade problems and then you can plan to raise your GPA during the next semester. That is the only way to get off Probation and avoid being dropped. An honest answer to that question usually points out a problem. Perhaps you took courses that were beyond your current abilities and you need a refresher course to improve your skills. A major reason for poor grades, especially for busy people, is the problem of time management. Too many hours at work (or play) can cause academic problems. Was it just one course that was a problem, as it often is, or was the entire semester a bummer? There are as many answers to the “why?” question as there are students to ask it.

Q. Should I change my major?

A. Yes, No and Maybe! If the course that caused you problems was a course in your major area, you should give your academic goals a good hard look. Doing poorly in an entry-level major course, like first semester accounting, may be an indication that you need to explore your options. Our campus has many degree opportunities. Check them out. Talk to advisors in different academic areas. However, if you failed a course because you goofed off, then your major probably wasn’t the problem.

Q. If I decide to change my major, how do I do it?

A. Contact your current Academic Advisor, who will assist you in completing a Change of Degree Objective Form (CODO), as well as refer you to the appropriate advisor for your new major.

Q. Is there any way to get that “F” off my transcript? It’s embarrassing.

A. Unfortunately, no. You were enrolled and paid for the course and received a grade. Talk to your academic advisor.

Q. Should I repeat a course where I received an F or a D?

A. Contact your academic advisor to determine whether or not you should repeat the course. Generally speaking, you should repeat a course in which you have received a failing (F) grade.  Repeating any other course to raise your GPA may adversely affect your financial aid or veteran’s benefits if it is considered as passing by university standards.

Q. How soon should I repeat it? I just finished it and really would like to take some time away from THAT course!

A. While the idea of repeating a course you just had difficulty in may not be your favorite idea, it is one of your best options. You don’t gain anything by postponing the inevitable. All the material that you remember from the first time through should help you do better the second time. (I hope you kept the handouts, quizzes, tests etc.)

Q. Now I’ve really got a problem! The course I failed was a prerequisite to a course I want to take next semester. I’ve advance registered too.

A. See your academic advisor, and they will assist you in making the necessary changes to your schedule.  You cannot stay registered for a course in which you have not successfully completed the pre-requisites.

Q. If that’s the case, then I need to take a careful look at the classes I will take next semester. I sure don’t want to be dropped. Probation is bad enough!

A. Welcome to a concept called “Strategic Scheduling.”

Q. What is Strategic Scheduling and how will it help me?

A. Strategic Scheduling is, simply, scheduling with a strategy. Your goal is to get the highest grades possible to raise your GPA and leave Probation behind you. That is your overall objective and you should choose classes accordingly.

Keep these ideas in mind:

  • Repeat a course you’ve already taken to improve your GPA.
  • Reduce the number of credit hours you are taking for the semester. Before you resist this because you HAVE to be a full-time student for financial aid, find out if you really do. Financial aid is available for students who are not full-time students.
  • Enroll in courses that you know you can do well in. Every student has strong areas. Know which are yours and take advantage of them NOW!
  • Instead of choosing a division that meets only once or twice a week, enroll in one that meets more frequently. Small doses of knowledge are easier to take than one long session.
  • Take a HARD look at your overall use of time. There are only 168 hours per week and classes, studying and transportation can use up great amounts in a hurry. How many hours are you at work? Full-time employment to support a family is one thing but a part-time job for spending money is something else. Reduce your hours at work if you can. Banish all outside activity until after the next semester. You’re in academic trouble right now and need all your time to get your grades up. That’s your top priority.
  • Find help! Purdue University North Central has many services to help students; you only need to ask.

Dean of Students Office/Discover Test. Stop here to take the aptitude and interest test battery. Maybe your goals don’t quite “match” you. Find out!

Meet with your Academic Advisor

PNC Assessment. Tests are given in math, English and reading. Find the appropriate entry level for you in those areas so that you start in the right course.

Tutoring Services and Writing Center. These are already paid for in your student services fee and are FREE waiting for you.

Outside help. Our area has many local programs that help students learn, review and practice their academic skills. Check with your local high school or Adult Basic Education center for information.

Q. I really don’t belong on Probation, you see. I dropped the course and the computer gave me an F anyway. I know I dropped the course because I quit going to class. Now, how can I straighten out the computer?

A. First of all, dropping a course is a formal procedure requiring a drop card that is given to registration before a specified date and signed by your academic advisor. Just because you stopped going to class does NOT mean you dropped the course. You were still officially enrolled, since you were not dropped, and the F is a very real grade on your record. Secondly, computers don’t give grades, instructors do.

Q. I don’t think the instructor gave me the right grade. Now I’m on Probation. What do I do? Can I appeal a grade?

A. In either case, contact the instructor. There is a procedure for an instructor to follow to change a grade. There is also a procedure for students to follow if they want to appeal a grade. For information on grade appeals, read the Student Handbook and contact the Dean of Student’s office.

Q. Can I transfer to West Lafayette while I am on Probation?

A. You can file a Regional Campus Transfer form with the Office of Admissions at Purdue University North Central whether you are on probation or not. However, West Lafayette has its own standards, depending on the degree program you are seeking, that may make your Probationary status a factor on approval. You may be placed on “hold” until the grades are recorded for the next semester to see if your grades have improved before your transfer request is approved.

Q. Can I receive my degree if I go on Probation my last semester?

A. Yes. There are a few guidelines. You must have an overall GPA of 2.0 for a degree. If you do not have this as an overall GPA you may not graduate even if you have all courses completed and other requirements met.

Q. If this is my situation, NOW what do I do?

A. Contact the registration office as soon as possible. Then choose classes that will help you raise your GPA. Usually this means repeating a class.

Q. Will my advisor or instructors be told I’m on Probation?

A. Advisors, yes, and instructors, no. Your advisor needs to know how you are doing to give you the best possible academic advice. Instructors won’t know unless you tell them, and that’s up to you.

Q. If I’m in a closed program, like Nursing, will I be removed from the program if I’m on Probation?

A. Contact the office of your major immediately! It is possible to be dropped from a program but remain in the University on Probation. Nursing, Education and Management are three programs with certain grade and course requirements. There are others.

Q. How close am I to being dropped?

A. Good Question!

First of all, know your classification. This is a number that reflects how many credit hours you have taken at the college level. As a rule of thumb, 1 to 15 credit hours is a classification of 1; 16 to 30 is a 2; 31 to 45 is a 3 and so on. If you don’t know your classification, contact Registration.


Graduation Index
8 and up

*Affects only students entering on probation.

Next, understand that you can be dropped if either of two things happen. According to Purdue’s Academic Policy, a student on Probation (that’s you) will be dropped if:

  1. Overall Graduation Index falls below the level listed for your classification (check the chart).
  2. The student receives a failing grade (F or WF) in six credit hours or more for the semester.

Q. Yikes! You mean if I get an F in two classes I am dropped?

A. Yes. Six or more credit hours of F in one semester for a student on Probation means the student will be dropped.

Q. What is a WF?

A. This means “Withdrawn Failing.” If a student withdraws from a course and the instructor indicates a WF, it means the student was failing at the time of withdrawal.

Q. How does Probation affect my financial aid?

A. Probation has a direct effect on financial aid because Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress follows the same GPA requirements as academic standing.  You can check the Satisfactory Academic Progress policy for additional information.  If you receive Vocational Rehabilitation, Veteran’s Benefits or other off-campus financial assistance, you will find that they have their own requirements about grades, probation and financial aid. Contact their offices for further information.

Q. How does a P for Pass or NP for No Pass affect my grades?

A. They don’t. A Pass/No Pass course neither helps nor hurts your GPA classification.

So, there you have it! Academic Probation is embarrassing but not the end of your academic career. There are many options open to you: changing your major, strategic scheduling, repeating courses etc. But, there is one option that has not yet been addressed: quitting. Just stop coming to school and let your educational (and career) hopes die out.

Now that’s the worst thing you can do even though it may look the easiest. Right now your academic record is in pretty poor shape. If you leave it as is, any time you decide to return to school, it will be there waiting for you. Any employer who wants to see your college transcript will be far from impressed. No, quitting while on Probation is not the answer. Stick around for another semester, get your grades in order and then, if you decide to stop out for awhile, your records will be there to help, not hinder, your progress.

Use this time on probation to make a few decisions and to improve yourself as a college student. Others before you have survived Academic Probation.

You will too!

The education services and programs of the University are open to all academically qualified individuals regardless of creed, national origin, race, veteran status or disabilities.

Persons who have questions or concerns in regard to University compliance with applicable state and federal laws, guidelines and regulations, such as the Americans with Disability Act of 1990, Title VI or VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Equal Employment Act of 1972 or Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, are invited to contact the Chancellor’s Office.