Keene State College has seen an increase in academic suspensions after the fall 2016 semester.
The suspensions, which are handed down to students who fail to reach a cumulative GPA of between 1.00 and 2.00 for two consecutive semesters on academic probation, increased from the mid-30s to 67 students according to Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Kemal Atkins.
He said that the school is analyzing data, which may help indicate trends showing why the numbers have increased. He attributed it partially to possible communication gaps between different areas of the college to help identify students who may be at risk of suspension and providing them with the support they need.
Atkins said that the staff and faculty have been working to close that gap and pick up on warning signs of possible suspensions such as low grades and accumulated absences.
“We’re certainly looking at how we can better support students and identify them. That’s one of the things is that these students didn’t ‘show up,’ if you will, on any indicators that we have right now that they may be in trouble of not doing well this past semester,” Atkins said.
Furthermore, Atkins said that other factors could also play into a student struggling to get by in their academic career, such as financial or personal problems outside of the classroom.
Atkins mentioned that different departments at the college like the Counseling Center and KSC Cares can help a students get the support they need outside of the classroom.
He said the college is also working to make these departments and others more well known around campus.
The policy for first-year students and first-year transfers at KSC is different than it is for students who have attended the college for a longer period of time. Newcomers are only required to earn a 1.00 GPA before suspension is enforced.
According to KSC registrar Tom Richard, the majority of those who faced suspensions last semester were first semester students at KSC, a number of whom had a flat 0.00 GPA.
However, on average, incoming first-year, first-time students had a 2.995 high school GPA per the latest edition of the KSC Common Data, set well above the threshold for academic suspension.
KSC senior Patrick Chabot said that the first-year students put on suspension may not have have realized the difference between college and high school work-loads. “I think that to them, they probably think it’s still high school,” Chabot said.
Chabot said that he thinks the school provides students with the resources they need to succeed, but that it is up to them to use them. However, he also said that students should be more in touch with the campus community and by doing so it might help them in the classroom as well. “I think the feeling of being involved or being part of the school [would] really help someone to push someone academically… ,” Chabot said.
Atkins said that while the number of suspensions handed down is higher than usual, he is not currently concerned about this becoming a long-term issue for the college. He added that students should be proactive about getting help with their studies or problems outside of the classroom before suspension is handed down.
“The best thing to do is to seek help early…once the semester’s over and they already had a low GPA, it’s a little more difficult to reverse that,” Atkins said.
Richard said that even if students do end up on academic suspension and lose their matriculated status, they still have an opportunity to earn up to eight credits while on suspension through the Continuing Education department, meet with professors and reapply after the suspension period is over.
Students are also able to retake courses which they have earned a grade less than a C in, and upon completion of the course, the first grade is dropped.
“No one is ever saying that because you failed initially, [that] doesn’t mean that you can’t have a second chance or move on from there. It’s not the end of the world even though at the moment, it might sort of feel like it,” Richard said.
Jacob Barrett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org