Sunday, January 26

Andiver Castellanos: Administration should better publicize academic probation resources

(Daily Bruin file photo)

Oftentimes, students that go through academic probation are stigmatized and shamed for it, but people forget to realize that universities often do not publicize the resources available to these students.

According to its website, UCLA will place a student on academic probation if their term or overall grade point average falls between 1.5 and 1.99. Moreover, students are subject to dismissal if their GPA is less than 1.5 or if they do not end probation by the end of the next quarter.

Corey Hollis, director of college academic counselling, said that students have access to resources on campus like the Student Retention Center, Counseling and Psychological Services and the Bruin Readmission Program that can aid students who are going through difficult times.

But students who are on probation are often judged as lazy or just not as smart as their peers, and this shames these students and discourages them from seeking help from counselors.

Addressing the stigma that students who are on academic probation are lazy begins with a direct and helpful discussion among UCLA staff and students. The UCLA administration hasn’t been properly communicating with students about the resources available to students who are on probation. Because of the misdirections, some students decide not to seek further help from academic counselors.

Therefore, the administration needs to better direct students on probation to its resources. For instance, UCLA could better promote the academic resources earlier in students’ undergraduate careers and meet with them in person, at least yearly, to ensure they are all on the right track. This would help diminish students’ hesitation to use these resources.

It’s clear there isn’t enough publicity surrounding tutoring and counseling that are available to students, according to several students who were on academic probation or subject to dismissal at some point in their undergraduate careers.

For example, a fourth-year Chicana/o studies student who spoke under the pseudonym Jessie said that even seeking a counselor was a hassle. She bounced from place to place with different offices and counselors before reaching an academic counselor. And even when she finally got ahold of a counselor, they were still not helpful.

And she’s not the only one. A fourth-year sociology student, who spoke under the pseudonym Tina, said she was on academic probation in her first year at UCLA. When she visited her Academic Advancement Program counselor, she was discouraged from going to medical school, even though she had only just finished her first quarter at UCLA.

“I broke down in front of my counselor and I still didn’t get directed to Counseling and Psychological Services and she should’ve known to direct me,” Tina said.

The first year at UCLA is a period when students are most vulnerable and just getting acquainted to the quarter system – Tina said she didn’t even know what psychological services UCLA offered, which is why it was so critical that the counselor didn’t refer her.

Similarly, Susy Hernandez, a third-year prospective world arts and cultures student, felt that she did not belong at this university because she felt counselors shamed and misjudged her for being on probation and seemed annoyed with her.

Moreover, Hernandez had to repeat herself to counselors because they did not seem to understand that she was going through personal issues at the time, which discouraged her from meeting with them altogether.

Many students like Hernandez often feel isolated when working to get off academic probation.

Better publicity for and quality of tutoring and counseling for students on academic probation would more effectively guide these students to seek help. For instance, a mandatory, yearly meeting with an academic counselor in which students discuss their progress, concerns about graduating on time and concerns regarding UCLA in general would be helpful.

Such meetings with academic counselors would ensure that resources like academic tutoring and counseling are directly publicized to these students. Every student would learn about how to get help when they are on academic probation.

Of course, students on academic probation should seek help with counselors and be open about it, since otherwise they would not receive help. However, many students cannot easily find these resources because they are often misled and left to run in circles. Consequently, students don’t feel welcome or that they can succeed. But since the success of all students is the university’s goal, it’s in its best interest to help students earn better standing.

And while making meetings mandatory for every student may be difficult to coordinate, UCLA can at least try to focus on those who need it the most. For instance, people under a certain GPA would benefit from such proactive effort from the administration.

Students attending UCLA have the potential to do great things – that’s why they were admitted, after all.

“Students on academic probation should come in and seek help,” Hollis said. “Every student who is admitted here is qualified to be here, otherwise they wouldn’t be here,” she added.

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  • Benjamin Gelbart

    I was on academic probation as a first year because of a lousy second quarter. I think this stems deeper then a lack of proper resources to help students cope through academic difficulty. I attended an LA public school that offered a lousy education compared to what some of my peers at UCLA received. UCLA does not account for weakness gaps in any of the STEM courses. This set me up to receive my first C- and a D at UCLA ruining my GPA, any future career plans I had, and ultimately scaring me away from science for a long time. Nobody advised me not to take 14B with Scerri and LS2 with Esdin together.

    I can say with certainty now that the education I received in both those classes was sub par, rushed, and skipped important concepts that are critical to understanding course material. After 6 years of shame from not succeeding the first time around, I went to West LA College and discovered that teaching gets so much better. Junior colleges are a great deal and do way better then UCLA in science education. I’m not the only one saying that, our classes are full of UCLA alumni doing damage control.

    I am an alumini, I once was STD :P, and lower devision education needs an overhaul.