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Your Academic Plan: Academic Difficulty-
When Things Don't Go According to Plan

Many students experience some form of academic difficulty during their college career. You may struggle through a course or two, or a single term. Academic difficulty may also be more severe and/or long lasting. Whatever your situation, there are many ways you can make connections with faculty, staff, and fellow students that may help you overcome the difficulties you have been experiencing.

About Academic Standing

Your Academic Standing is determined by your cumulative GPA:

  • Good Academic Standing = a cumulative GPA > 2.0
  • Academic Warning = a cumulative GPA between 2.2 and 2.0
  • Academic Probation = a cumulative GPA below 2.0

Academic Warning is considered within the range of Good Academic Standing. However, seeking support and resources while on Academic Warning is an important part of working to ensure your status does not slip into Academic Probation.

What to Do If You Are on Academic Warning or Probation

As a student on Academic Warning or Probation, the two most important steps you can take, are to gain as much information as possible about your individual academic situation and based on this information develop a plan to return to Good Academic Standing in the following term. This is the time to do the following:

  • assess the severity of your grade point average deficit, (the Raise Your GPA Calculator Quick Link at the left can help)
  • know what courses you should be taking (or retaking),
  • be aware of the grades needed to clear warning or probationary status,
  • develop a study schedule and routine that will provide you with both the structure and support you need to concentrate on improving your academic performance.

Academic advisers in the Center for Academic and Career Development can support you in this process. Call 303.871.2150 to make an appointment. The information included on the handout Priorities for Students Experiencing Academic Difficulty may also be helpful.

Contributing Factors

A realistic assessment of the contributing factors that resulted in unsuccessful academic performance will be an important part of your efforts to improve your work in future quarters. It will be unlikely that you will be able to remedy difficulties and distractions unless you know exactly the nature of those distractions.

Generally, there are 5 main causes of academic difficulty:

  • Motivational difficulties
    Motivational difficulties can include difficulty adapting to and feeling a sense of belonging in a competitive academic environment.
  • Adjustment to college life
    Balancing study with the new freedoms and responsibilities of independent living can be a difficult challenge. For some, it will take practice to develop the personal discipline required to stay focused at an urban institution with so many opportunities.
  • Study skills
    Students arrive at college with many levels of academic preparation. For some, the transition is seamless, for others, a real struggle. Weaknesses in academic preparation and an inability to organize study time can contribute to unsatisfactory academic performance.
  • Directions/Goals
    Some students report having difficulty finding a major that "fits" with their interests and abilities.
  • Personal Issues
    At times and perhaps unexpectedly, personal issues can affect academic performance. For example, issues involving health, personal relationships, finances, and family responsibilities may overwhelm a your ability to perform well in classes.

Academic Advisers are specially trained to assist you as you assess the variety of issues that may have contributed to academic difficulty. In some cases, you may be easily able to determine the cause of poor performance, in others, there may be a combination of contributing factors.

If you are experiencing academic difficulty, it is very important to make an appointment with an Academic Adviser, who can provide support and help you make a plan to return to Good Academic Standing.


Writing Center. Located in Penrose library, the Center promotes and supports effective student writing by providing consultations to undergraduates and graduate students. The Center is staffed by trained graduate students and offers scheduled and drop-in consultations, as well as other services.

The Health and Counseling Center. Found on the third floor of the Ritchie Center, HCC offers a variety of services from general medical care, to individual or group counseling, to programs on tobacco cessation and stress management.

Study and Time Management Tips. Linked at the left are a series of resources to get you thinking about your study skills and time use. They may be helpful on their own, and also may provide language for you to use when meeting with an Academic Adviser.