Students with Academic Difficulties

Sample Questions for Underprepared Students

Pre-test for Underprepared Students

Students with academic difficulties (low semester GPA, Conditional Admit, or Probationary status) are often those most in need of careful advising. Paradoxically, these are the students least likely to seek out their advisors or to follow through on the advice received. They can try the patience of the most experienced advisors. However, many advisors find that helping these students succeed can be the most rewarding advising experience.

Many students in academic difficulty lack specific skills such as time management, proper study habits, or self-discipline. They usually are reluctant to seek help and do not know what resources are available to assist them. However, if they are willing to make a commitment to change old habits and learn new skills, they can learn the strategies that are needed to be successful academically at DSU. You can play a critical role by offering your assistance to these students.

Determining the Cause of the Problem

The first step in advising a student with academic difficulty is to determine the root cause of the problem. In some instances, the circumstances leading to unsatisfactory performance in a given semester are attributable to situational problems and may resolve themselves. Unfortunately, for some students, unsatisfactory performance reflects certain types of problems that are often long-standing and, if not given attention, may persist and result in further academic difficulties and perhaps withdrawal or suspension. Reasons for unsatisfactory performance include:

  • poor study habits;
  • too many hours of work and/or a work schedule that conflicts with the school schedule;
  • unrealistic course choices in view of interests and abilities;
  • lack of direction;
  • exam anxiety and/or poor exam-taking techniques;
  • personal and/or family problems;
  • lack of preparation to perform college-level work;
  • lack of motivation.

Once you have determined what is causing your advisee's difficulty, you will need to counsel the student on the seriousness of the situation and offer advice on how to improve.

Explaining the Situation

When working with students with unsatisfactory performance, you should consider taking the following steps:

  • Review students' previous records to determine the number of unsatisfactory credits accumulated.
  • Discuss the ramifications of past or present unsatisfactory performance and the possible outcome of continued unsatisfactory grades.
    • If a student's cumulative grade point average falls below 2.0 in any academic term, the student is placed on academic probation the following term.
    • A student on academic probation who fails to maintain a system term grade point average of 2.0 or better is placed on academic suspension for a minimum period of two academic terms.
    • Students on academic suspension are not allowed to register for any coursework at any Regental university unless approved by appeal.
    • Academic Suspension will be entered on the student's transcript, and academic probation will be noted in the student's internal academic record. (For complete information, see DSU's University Catalog on Minimum Progression Standards.)

Make certain that your advisee understands the seriousness of the situation and then help the student determine a plan of action.

Taking Appropriate Action

Make appropriate referrals according to each advisee's circumstances.

  • If an advisee is doing poorly academically, but has not been placed on probation, make sure the student is aware of the following services available at DSU:
    • Student Success Center - Located in the Trojan Center's Underground, the Success Center uses Student Success Assistants to help students with time management, test anxiety, note taking and study strategies. Appointments may be made by calling 256-5146 or by stopping at the main desk. For more information, you can visit the center's website at
    • Tutors - Located in the Mundt Library, tutors can provide students with individual or small group help in specific subject areas, including a variety of general education courses, as well as accounting, programming, and advanced math. For a list of available tutors and hours, visit the tutor website at .
    • OWL (Online Writing Lab)- The OWL is designed to help DSU students with research and writing questions. The site offers a list of online resources and provides specific feedback on individual projects. To learn the guidelines for using the OWL, visit the site at
  • If the situation warrants, use the Early Alert system, available at, to refer the student for extended services. For more complete information about the Early Alert system, see Section Early Alert Procedures.
  • If an advisee has been placed on academic probation, work with his/her probation counselor in the Student Development office.
  • If an advisee has been suspended from the university or has had his/her financial aid suspended, inform the student of the appropriate appeal processes. Do note that if a student has been suspended from the university and has had financial aid suspended, he/she will need to file two separate appeals. Details regarding academic suspension may be found in the University Catalog's Minimum Progression Standards section under the Readmission heading. Details regarding financial aid suspension may be found in the Financial Aid section under the Appeal of Financial Aid Suspension heading.

In addition to making the appropriate referrals, effective advisors will also consider the following actions:

  • Convey to advisees your concern and encourage them to meet with you on a regular basis.
  • Assist students in making appropriate course selections in view of their past performance or suggest taking a reduced course load.
  • Work with students to determine the reasons for unsatisfactory grades and help them to determine the types of changes that need to occur.

Very often, concerned advisors can influence advisees' academic careers and also may contribute to improved student retention. Students do not always recognize the consequences of unsatisfactory performance, and through early intervention, advisors may help students avert continued academic difficulties.

Last Updated: 7/31/12