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My experience on academic probation

By Guest Writer

Here is a bit of backstory: I had a great time in high school. I had amazing friends, great teachers, and excellent grades. Every year got better than the last - I was on a four year high. I thought I was invincible and that nothing could bring me down.

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It was Grade 12 and it was time to applying for university. I applied to six universities and got accepted to all of them (four of them were early acceptances). I passed my final exams with flying colours, and came here with a 92% average, a scholarship, and some amazing friends. At this moment I was soaring… I just finished the four best years of my life and I knew I was going into four better years now.

I was wrong.

First year came around and it was rough from the very start. My friends weren’t in my classes, I didn’t understand my professor's ways of teaching and I was way too lenient on doing my homework/reading daily because… I was the kid that got a 92% average in high school and was accepted to every university I applied to.

A few weeks passed by and midterms came around. I didn’t study much for any of them, so as you could probably imagine they went horribly. Still, they were only worth 15% of my final grade so I could still end up with an A... Before I knew it, the second midterms came around, and same story. I was now aiming for a B at best. So I did what I could and I started to study just a little bit harder. But, in my mind, I was still overconfident and thought that I would never fail because I never had in the past.

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Yeah… big mistake. I did not study for the final exams as much as I should have. I had 5 courses in my first semester of university, my grades were 2 C's, 2 D's, and 1 F. My GPA was well below the 2.0 required to continue. I was on probation and I didn’t even know what that meant for me.

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After a couple of meetings with some Academic Advisors, I knew that I definitely was not invincible. I was very vulnerable to reality but it was too late to realize that now. I was the only one of my friends to have performed so poorly. One of my friends even made it onto the dean’s list and received awards for their performance. I should have been happy for them - but I felt terrible.

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That is when I realized I had to make some changes, and fast. I asked the academic advisors for special permission to continue to take my full course load in the second semester. I basically signed a waiver saying that I was solely responsible for that decision and that I accept the consequences if anything goes wrong. I started that semester knowing I only had one option and I started it strong. I went to every single lecture, did all of the assignments and read every single page assigned for reading. I did some extra studying online as well. The first midterms came around, I was prepared and I did great. It was the same story for the second midterms too. I started to study well in advance for my finals so I was prepared for those too. Hard work paid off and I blew past my GPA of the first semester.

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All that was left now was to repeat some first semester courses which I did poorly on in the summer semester and I was off of probation.

This was all a couple of years ago and I’ve done consistently great ever since. Come to think of it, this whole experience changed me through and through. My work ethic, my priorities, my social life, everything. Everything was better at the end. I realized that I just needed a jolt to lose my ego and bring me from my cloud 9 back to the ground. I guess what I’m trying to say is that no hurdle is too large to overcome. Use your support system and resources available at the university (Academic Advisors, Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), workshops, office hours, etc.) to help better understand and cope with problems so that you can create realistic goals for yourself.  You just have to put your mind to it and work to reach those goals with full honesty and you might even come out of it better than you were before.

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