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Bouncing Back from Academic Probation

Academic Probation

When you’re in the process of going to school, keeping everything balanced can be a major hassle. Sometimes the stress and pressure become too much, though, and you find yourself in hot water.

One day everything is kind of “meh” and the next you’re getting a letter stating you’ve been put on academic probation. Now you have holds on your college records, the possibility of being suspended, counselors and advisors to meet with, and the overwhelming sense of “dear God, how did this happen?” 

Try to keep calm and proceed as follows:


Just do it. You know you want to and I can guarantee you’ll feel a hell of a lot better afterwards. It might not solve anything, but crying will let out all the feels you’re holding on to. 

Figure Out What Happened

Time to be honest with yourself, chances are you’ll have to meet with an advisor and answer this question for them so you might as well figure it out for yourself first. Maybe your party habits got the best of you; you took on too much at one time; your mental health took a turn for the worst; some serious shit went down in the family. Whatever it was, just be straight up with yourself and identify what it was that threw off your groove. Ideally you can confront that problem first to ensure it won’t come creeping back next semester to wreak even more havoc upon your GPA.

Forgive Yourself

This is a difficult step. It’ll take time to stop scolding yourself, too. You’ll feel sick about what your family would think and you’ll compare yourself to friends and peers. Forgiveness doesn’t have to happen right away, though. Let the idea enter your mind so you can at least try to get closer to coming to terms with what has happened.

Sharing is Caring

This is also a difficult step. Now’s the time where you take a deep breath, meet up with a friend for coffee, and say, “Guess what happened to me the other day.”  You might feel embarrassed or ashamed, but it’s okay! Only tell those who really matter to you. Because chances are that if you care about them, they care about you too.

They can also act as a major source of inspiration and support. Tell those people what the upcoming classes you’ll be taking are; they’ll ask how your classes are going now. Maybe they’ll even propose study dates with you. Have your significant other ask what you’ve been learning about. If the people you love show an interest in what you’re doing, you’ll likely pay more attention to what you’re doing.

What Do You Really Love?

You’ll probably have one or two required classes that you should take care of. But then… be selfish. Find a class or two that really interests you, one that you’ll be excited about attending every week. Bread and Circuses: Entertainment and Spectacle in the Roman Empire?  Homoeroticism in Popular Media?  From Dracula to Twilight: the Role of the Vampire in Literature? Gang Culture and Youth Violence?

It doesn’t have to be a class you need or even one that will benefit you in the future. If it’s something you’re interested in, you’ll be naturally encouraged to pay attention and try hard. Doing your homework isn’t so much of a chore when it requires you to study something you’ve always been interested in. And who knows? That favorite class could ignite the spark that’ll get you feeling like a kick-ass student again.

Take it Easy

You’ve likely just had a bit of a rough time with some aspect of life (AKA what threw you off course in the first place). Expecting yourself to be running at full throttle again is too much. Take it all one step at a time and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You could try taking one less class for your next semester or try to limit how many hours a week you spend at work. Think of it as recovery mode—you’re being kind to yourself so you can get back to being your usual, fabulous self.

You may feel foolish or incompetent at times, but try to remember that you’ve done so much hard work to get to where you are. Just because you feel like you can’t write a paper anymore or study effectively doesn’t mean you’re done for. If you could do it before, you can do it again. Use to help you be more efficient.

And don’t let the small victories go by unnoticed. Celebrate your first good quiz grade! Show your lover the comments on your successful paper! Whatever you were dealing with that got you into the academic probation status is behind you. You’ve dealt with the problem head on and have worked hard. Even the smallest of successes deserve a reward.

Oh, and once you’ve gotten yourself out of academic probation status… let there be cake.

About the Author

Lindsey J. Gooden

Lindsey is a spooky girl and semi-goth living in Minneapolis with her handsome Taurus and baby cat, appropriately named after a demon. She is a chronic day-dreamer, imagining life as a best-selling novelist or a mortician. When she isn't reading or scribbling in her diary, she's chilling with her girlfriends, embarking on adventures, and doing her best to be the girl with the most cake. She's very shy and a lot like you, only obsessed with Trent Reznor.