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How to Appeal an Academic Dismissal

How to cope, what to do next

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It may feel like the end of the world when that registered letter arrives announcing that your child has been dismissed from the university. For some parents, it's the first clue that their college kid was even having problems. But while it may be news to you, it's not to your child, who has spent at least a semester on academic probation. This isn't the end of the line, though. A university expulsion begins with an appeals period.

Your child has several weeks to appeal the decision and the dismissal letter lays out the process. A typical appeal includes a personal statement from the student on what the problem is and how he intends to address it, and letters of support from his adviser and other professors and staff members. It may also include an application to continue or reinstate financial aid.

It's critical to diagnose the problem that caused the academic issues to begin with, because that information determines the course of action. Saying, "I partied too hard and now I won't" isn't going to impress any dean. A plan will. And if the problem involves the emotional fallout of hazing, medical issues or a recently diagnosed learning disorder or attention deficit issue, those are things that can be dealt with and that can have a tremendous impact on a student's ability to do his work. If your child's issues involve a therapist, psychiatrist or other medical professional, he'll want to include a letter from that individual in his appeal.

The other reason for having a plan, of course, is that without one, even if the appeal is approved, nothing else changes. You don't just want your kid to prevail in his appeal, you want him to succeed in school. Winning an appeal will give your child another semester to prove himself. What he does with that is up to him.

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