Monitoring Academic Performance

The Committee on Student Standing and Programs (CSSP), a standing committee of the faculty, is composed of three faculty members appointed by Academic Council, three students appointed by Student Council, and two deans, one of whom serves as the executive secretary.  

The Committee is charged with reviewing students’ academic performance in consultation with their deans and, if necessary, with members of the Athletics department, the Office of Admission, and (to the extent consistent with confidentiality) the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) staff. CSSP relies on the faculty to convey notes of concern to the deans of those students in their courses who are experiencing academic difficulty. The Committee reviews these faculty reports as needed but typically at the middle of each semester, and sends letters to some students apprising them of the concerns, urging them to consult with their advisors, counselors, deans, and instructors, and recommending, where appropriate, that they make use of the College’s peer tutoring system, the Office of Academic Resources, and other academic support resources.

In dealing with academic deficiencies, CSSP has broad authority to set requirements for a student’s continued enrollment, most notably by placing them on one of several levels of “Academic Warning” (probation) or requiring them to take a College Leave for a minimum of one year; such decisions are typically made at the end of each semester but may be made at any point deemed advisable by the Committee. The Committee has full latitude to place a student on College Leave even if the student has not previously been placed on Academic Warning.

Students are accountable to themselves and to the College (as embodied in the Committee) for the use to which they put both their talents and the resources of the College. Each case that comes before the Committee is treated individually within the context of College policy, and from this perspective, accountability means that some students who perform poorly but manage to pass their courses may still be placed on College Leave and ones who are failing may, on occasion, be permitted to continue. However, although CSSP may permit students who fail some of their courses to continue at the College, the Committee must first be convinced that there is a high probability that such students will do work that is at least consistently adequate in the immediate future.

When CSSP is considering the possibility of placing a student on College Leave, it will postpone making its final decision until it has held a second meeting, known as a “Drop Hearing.” Such hearings typically happen at the end of January, immediately prior to the spring semester, and in early June in response to spring semester grade reports, but the Committee may hold Drop Hearings at any point in the calendar year. Students who are summoned to such hearings but not placed on College Leave will typically be placed on Very Strict Academic Warning.

The student will be invited to appear before the Committee during a Drop Hearing and will be permitted to attend the hearing in the company of an academic advisor or other faculty member solely to provide moral support; such a “support person” may not address the committee or serve as an advisor to the student during the course of the hearing. If the student does not appear, the Committee will make a decision in the student’s absence and will inform them of its decision in writing. Since a Drop Hearing is intended to be a dialogue, the Committee will not entertain written statements from students summoned to such hearings or from other parties.

Students placed on College Leave may appeal the Committee’s decision to the President of the College on procedural grounds only. Appeals must be in writing, must state the grounds for the appeal, and must be received by the President within 72 hours of the student’s Drop Hearing. The following are the procedures of a Drop Hearing:

  • The Committee will send the student notification of the Committee’s decision to hold a Drop Hearing 3-5 days before the hearing.
  • The student will be given an opportunity to speak to the Committee during the hearing.
  • At least one student, one faculty member, and one dean will be present at the hearing and will constitute a quorum.
  • The student will be apprised of the Committee’s decision immediately after it is made.

Second-semester seniors should note that simply meeting the College requirements and accumulating 32 credits is not necessarily sufficient to ensure graduation. For example, the Committee (which reviews all senior academic records before the faculty votes on granting of degrees each spring) may decide that a student who has failed two out of the four courses in which they were enrolled in the eighth semester may not be permitted to graduate even though the student has the 32 credits required for graduation. Similarly, seniors who fail courses in their major may be judged to have failed to meet the academic standards of the College and may not be permitted to graduate even if they have successfully completed the required number of courses and satisfied all general education requirements.