How hard is it to fail out of college?

GVL / Archive

GVL / Archive

Drew Howard

Out of the 25,094 students enrolled at Grand Valley State University in 2014, just over 1 percent – approximately 320 – were dismissed due to poor grades by the end of the year. With such a low number of dismissals being reported, this begs the question: How hard is it actually to fail out of college?

At GVSU, there are special precautions taken to ensure the success of each student, even if that student happens to be performing well below the average.

Sherril Soman, university registrar at GVSU, explained that students are not able to be dismissed from the university due to poor grades after only one semester of attending.

“Students are academically dismissed after two consecutive semesters in which they have failed to maintain an academic level of good standing,” Soman said. “Students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher to be in good standing.”

A freshman with a GPA below 1.5 after the first full semester will be put on what is called “jeopardy of dismissal.” The same happens for a sophomore with a GPA lower than 1.8 and junior or senior below a 2.0.

By being put on jeopardy of dismissal after failing the first semester, an under-performing student is still guaranteed to be enrolled for a full second semester of classes. Even if a student fails two full semesters of classes, they still have a chance to be admitted back into GVSU the following semester.

This is all possible through an appeals process set in place for situations like these, Soman said.

“The appeal goes through the Student Academic Success Center,” Soman said. “A student can submit a letter of appeal to the committee in addition to an academic plan for review. They’re also asked to meet with an adviser to get a letter of support.”

One of the ways GVSU has made an effort to foster student success was through a pilot program tested at the end of the winter semester last academic year.

In the program, freshmen and sophomore students who were at risk of being dismissed were given the opportunity to participate in a one-week academic recovery camp, Soman said.

“At the recovery camp, students got to spend some time with things they struggle with such as academic and social behaviors,” she said. “If they passed, they were then re-admitted to GVSU.”

Out of the 85 students who took the class, 84 passed and 61 returned in the fall. This program is also available to freshmen and sophomores at the end of the upcoming winter semester.

Nancy Giardina, vice provost for student success, said there are several other measures set in place to help students in their academic performance.

“The Student Academic Success Center (SASC) has many support services for students, such as learning skills services, tutoring and advising walk-in services,” Giardina said. “We also have great collaboration with student services. In particular, students can get support to help find major that better match their capabilities by talking to advisers in the SASC and in the career center as well.”

Giardina added that everyone working at GVSU is here to help students succeed.

“The key for student success is to use support services early and often and connect with the faculty who teach their courses,” she said.

For more information about student educational resources, contact the Student Academic Success Center at (616) 331-3588 or go to