Petitions in the Faculty of Arts and Science: A Guide for Students: Common Petitions
In the following section you will find some specific guidance on the most common sorts of petitions. These include petitions about:
Our aim is to highlight what you will need to know in petitioning and to give you some idea of the way your request will be considered. On these matters, and for possible requests not discussed here, you can get clarification and guidance from your college registrar’s office.
Term work (e.g., essays, tests, lab reports) is generally a matter between you and your instructor. However, when it gets beyond the end of term, then petitions come into play.
Diplomacy & Protocol
Ways of handling term work vary as widely as teaching styles vary. Individual instructors may be informal in the explanations and documentation they require, or as formal as the petitions process. Keep in mind that they often have many demands on their limited time, and teach many students.
You will have to make arrangements for each course according to the expectations and requirements of that course’s instructor. In general, instructors expect you to let them know if you are having trouble and to be responsible in how you handle it, i.e., contacting them as soon as a problem arises, accepting responsibility for prioritizing and managing your work-load, doing everything you can to get work done and in to them, etc.
If you are having trouble with one course, speak with the instructor. If you are having problems that affect more than one course or if you want advice beyond the confines of the course, you should talk with your college registrar’s office. The staff there may be able to help you and to notify your instructors, saving you from having to tell your problems in detail to all your instructors.
You should definitely speak with your college registrar’s office if your problems have been piling up. Instructors and departments will often be very reluctant to grant extensions or make-up tests if, for example, a student approaches them in the second half of a course but hasn’t managed to complete any of the work for the entire first half. Even with documentation, multiple exceptions and make-ups are sometimes not possible.
Term Tests, as part of term work, are within the instructor’s purview. The only exception is when an extension to do a make-up test would go beyond five working days after the end of the Final Exam Period, in which case it requires a petition. All other term test matters (including mid-year term tests scheduled into the December Exam Schedule, and those tests instructors sometimes call “finals” that happen before the end of classes) are to be resolved with your instructor.
Since all students in a course are supposed to be evaluated using the same mode of assessment, you should normally expect to do a make-up test. However, some departments do make use of other remedies for missed term tests, for example, a generic make-up test before the end of the course, a redistribution of the mark onto the final or other tests. In any case, a petition is needed for a make-up term test that will occur after the end of the Final Exam Period for that session.
The same principle applies to assignments. They only become a matter for a petition if they go beyond five working days after the end of the Final Exam Period. You should definitely alert your instructor as soon as uncontrollable emergencies arise, expect to be asked for documentation, and expect no consideration for problems you could foresee or control. You should also not expect much consideration for those annoying small problems that arise at the last moment (book not in the library, printer out of ink, etc.) when you didn’t allow any room at all in your plan for such possibilities.
Deadlines & Extension Periods
There are three different periods relating to when your term work will be completed, if an extension is requested:
- Before classes end, extensions are definitely at the discretion of your instructor. That usually ends the matter, but if you need to appeal a decision you disagree with, you go up the academic route of appeal (described under FAQs: Petitionable?).
- After classes end but before five working days after the end of the Final Exam Period, instructors have the authority to grant “informal extensions,” provided the assignment is submitted by the end of the Final Exam Period. Such informal extensions are usually simpler for all concerned. Instructors do have the authority to grant you such an extension, but they are under no obligation to do so – that’s what ‘discretion’ means. Some instructors will only consider an informal extension up to the point when they must submit their course marks; others may insist you petition. In any case, if in this period an informal extension is refused or inadequate for your situation, you must petition if you think you have good reasons for an extension.
- After five working days after the end of the Final Exam Period, you definitely have to petition to be granted an extension.
You must file your petition for an "Extension for Term Work" within five working days after the end of the Final Exam Period at the latest. By then you will know if you have met any informal extensions you have been granted. In your letter, you should:
- identify precisely the nature of the piece of work for which you are requesting an extension;
- indicate the assignment’s original due date and any extensions already granted; explain why you were unable to complete the work;
- propose a reasonable plan, including a new deadline for when you will complete the work.
The Faculty normally expects the extension to be proportionate to the delay caused by the problem that prevented you from completing it on time, e.g., a 2-week extension is probably appropriate for a 2-week illness. Mention in your plan any time you have to set aside to complete other term work under informal extensions or to write Deferred Exams.
In general, you should plan first to devote your energies to completing your Final Exams for this and your other courses, and then resume work on the overdue assignment immediately after your exams are finished (so you don’t have to generate more petitions for the exams). In general, if you need some advice on managing your conflicting academic obligations, you should consult your college registrar’s office.
You should expect the Petitions Office to consult the department or the instructor about your petition for an extension, so you might consider how your handling of any missed tests or deadlines will look from their perspective when you are composing your petition letter. It usually helps if you have done the proper diplomacy (e.g., notified your instructor that circumstances kept you from meeting any informal extensions) so that your instructor understands your situation and might support your request.
With term work petitions, the U of T Verification of Student Illness and Injury Form is the only documentation accepted for illness (see above under Documentation). Your documentation must show the dates of the medical problem. If your condition is chronic, you must have a recent completed Verification form that specifically covers the relevant portion of the term. For non-medical issues, documentation on official letterhead from some independent professional not related to you is best, e.g., lawyer, religious leader, social worker, funeral director, etc. Again, the stronger your documentation, the stronger your case.
In the Meantime..
While waiting for a response to your petition, you are expected to be working on the assignment, i.e., don’t wait for approval before starting back to work on the assignment. If a positive petition response arrives close to the deadline you proposed, you may be asked to submit the work on short notice, since the Faculty expected you to be working on it in the meantime “in good faith” – rather than waiting for approval before you started to work. Also, if you have work from one session to complete after the session has ended, you should be careful about taking on new courses in the next session, since the two sets of obligations may interfere with one another.
Term tests fall under the jurisdiction of your instructor; Final Exams are the property of the Faculty. Petitions pertain only to Faculty Final Exams scheduled into the Final Exam Period after classes are finished for the course. About term tests, you speak with your instructor (as explained above); about final exams, you deal with your college registrar’s office. Note: a department or instructor cannot excuse you from writing a Final Exam, nor can they offer you an alternate date or form of exam, e.g., oral exam. All Final Exam remedies must come through petition.
The Basic Case
If you are ill or have a significant emergency that prevents you from attending a Final Exam, then you may request permission to defer writing the Final Exam.
Note: if you have a minor emergency that delays your arrival at an exam that is still in progress, you should go immediately to the examination hall and follow the instructions of the Presiding Officer. An immediate remedy may be possible that avoids petitions and delay.
You must request a deferred exam in writing: use the Petition Form, provide your written statement giving the date of the missed exam and your reason for missing it, and attach the relevant documentation. Submit them to your college registrar’s office.
For illness, the U of T Verification of Student Illness and Injury Form is the only documentation accepted (see Documentation). Your documentation must be dated as close in time as possible to the date of the exam, and must indicate that you were ill or incapacitated on the date of the exam. If your condition is chronic, you must have a recent completed Verification form that specifically covers the date of the exam. For non-medical issues, documentation on official letterhead from some independent professional not related to you is best, e.g., lawyer, religious leader, social worker, funeral director, etc. Again, the stronger your documentation, the stronger your case.
Petitions must be submitted no later than one week after the end of the Exam Period for the session in which the course was taken. First-term courses have a First-Term deadline, i.e. December or June; Second-Term courses have a Second-Term deadline, i.e. May or August. (See the Calendar for specific dates.)
Decisions and Follow-Up
The result of your petition will be sent to the UTOR e-mail address you have provided on the Petition Form. (Note again: ROSI will not update your UTOR e-mail address automatically - see UTOR E-mail Address Changes. The response will give you the crucial information you have been waiting for, so it is important that you follow up if you haven't heard anything, and read the decision carefully when it arrives.
The decision will tell you:
- the period in which you will write the Deferred Exam;
- the sort of exam it will be (Regular or Special);
- a deadline by which you must register for the exam (see Appendix);
- how you pay the Deferred Examination Fee ($70 per exam, $140 maximum for the session; see Appendix);
- when you can view your personal deferred examination schedule on the Web
There is a whole set of protocols you will be asked to follow at that time, which are included with the response letter (and outlined in the Appendix).
The Underlying Assumptions
Even though the Petitions Office processes many Deferred Exam petitions each year, the Faculty takes the rules and requirements surrounding Final Exams very seriously. The Faculty expects you to prepare for and make yourself available to write your Final Exams. This sounds obvious, but it affects a potential petition in at least two ways. First, the Faculty publishes the dates of the Final Exam Period in the Calendar well before the session starts, so it assumes when you sign up for a course in that session, that you commit to being available to write a Final Exam during the whole Exam Period. Second, you have been preparing for your final exams for the whole duration of the course, so at the end of the course you should be ready to write the exam.
Only a small number of emergencies can be important enough to prevent you from writing a Final Exam. If, for example, something happens the day before your exam that means you miss one day of studying, you should still be sufficiently prepared to write. The question the Petitions Office will ask when reviewing your petition is not “Are these the optimal conditions for you to write this exam?” but “Are you so incapacitated that you cannot write this exam?”
Medical & Personal Problems
Illness: A short letter, submitted promptly with accurate contact information, accompanied by proper documentation, and your petition will be answered speedily.
Less Simple Cases: Illness is straightforward: the more difficult questions arise in situations when you are not sure whether you will or should miss the exam. If there is any question, i.e., if it is not just a simple question of your being ill but you do have real problems, you should consult your college registrar’s office for advice. The decision about whether to write or petition is yours to make, but some knowledgeable advice will help clarify your choices.
"Sort of Ill": Some general advice, working out from simple situations to less certain ones. If you are not feeling your best but are not incapacitated, you must make a decision: if you go in to write the exam, that will be your one attempt. The Faculty almost never grants “re-writes,” and definitely not because you were not able to perform as well as you thought you could, or because you made the wrong decision. You are in the best position to make the decision, and so it is left to you. However, you must live with the results of the choice you make.
Previously Ill: If you were ill previously and this cut into your study time, but you are not ill any more, you will normally be expected to write your exams. (The exception to this expectation might occur when you have had a serious medical problem or one of long duration and you have missed term work and classes, in which case you should discuss the option of Late Withdrawal with your college registrar’s office).
Ill during an Exam: If you become ill during an exam and have to leave, report it to the Presiding Officer in the exam room, sign the appropriate forms, leave, seek immediate medical attention, and get medical documentation. In such an instance, you may petition to be allowed to write a Deferred Exam.
Weighing Costs & Benefits of Deferring
When making your decisions about Final Exams in these situations of current or previous medical or personal difficulty, you will need to consider at least three things:
- how well you feel now, at the time of the exam;
- whether you can get documentation for your illness sufficient to convince the Petitions Office that not writing is the proper decision;
- finally, how ready you are now vs. how ready you will be later.
Your case will have to be persuasive for your petition to be granted, and you might find that it is not in your interest to defer. You might think, in the heat of the Exam Period, that a deferred exam would be a welcome relief, giving you plenty of time to prepare. However, you should remember that the course is freshest in your mind immediately after a whole session of classes, whereas the details will gradually fade as time passes. Even if you may have more time to study your notes with a Deferred Exam, they will lose their detailed resolution as months pass. Exhausting or anxiety-producing as it might be, writing your Final Exams when they are scheduled is probably the best way to maximize your results, unless you are truly ill or incapacitated. In fact, if it isn’t absolutely necessary to defer and you are decently ready, you should probably write.
Limited Outside Centre Examinations and Deferred Examinations
The Faculty is unable to offer Outside Centre examinations and deferred examinations except on an extremely limited basis due to practical considerations and the unsatisfactory consequences of mishaps that have occurred in recent years. If you have extraordinary reasons for being unable to sit an examination on campus, you must seek counselling through your college registrar’s office. You may have to petition to defer your examination to another examination period.
If you file a petition to write an examination at an Outside Centre, you must do so at least three weeks before the beginning of the examination period with full documentation to support your request and with the Outside Centre details (title and status of contact, all contact information). If your request can be accommodated, you will write the examination at the same time as originally scheduled under the supervision of staff at another university, college or educational institution. There is a fee of $30.00 for each examination to be paid to the Faculty of Arts and Science (in addition to the deferred examination fee). You will also be responsible for any additional charges and costs assessed by the hosting institution. There is no guarantee that a request will be approved or that acceptable accommodations can be arranged with the Outside Centre.
Accessibility Services Accommodations
If you are registered with Accessibility Services for exam-related accommodations, you must submit your exam schedule to Accessibility Services well in advance of the Final Exam Period (at least one month for the April/May Exam Period). If you are scheduled to write a Deferred Exam and need the details to meet this deadline, you should contact the Deferred Examination Assistant (see Appendix # 11). If you meet their deadline, Accessibility Services will make the necessary arrangements and put your accommodations in place.
If for some reason you did not meet this deadline, you should contact Accessibility Services as soon as possible to see if they can still arrange appropriate accommodations in the time available. You should not count on this being possible.
If they cannot arrange accommodations within the time available, you can choose to write without the accommodations in the regular exam hall. However, this is almost always a bad idea. The accommodation is designed to give you a fair chance at the exam.
If Accessibility Services cannot arrange your accommodations after the deadline, you will have to petition for a Deferred Exam so you can take your exam under suitable circumstances. You do this through your college registrar’s office, as with other petitions. This is the case even if some special arrangement is made for you outside of Accessibility Services.
In a student’s mind, there are usually 3 dates relevant to dropping courses. Only the last one pertains to petitions:
- Up to the end of the Course Change Period at the beginning of term, you can add and drop courses without academic or financial consequences (except if you are cancelling your entire registration). After the Course Change Period, you may still drop courses, but your refund begins to dwindle.
- The last dates to get various refunds are set down by the Refund Schedule. Up to those dates you can drop a course for any reason and still receive the relevant partial refund of the fees you are charged. Once the last date for refunds passes, you may still drop courses and have them disappear from your academic record, but you are obliged to pay the relevant fees. (See Refunds below.)
- The Drop Date (i.e., the “Course Cancellation Date” or “Academic Drop Date” or “the last day to cancel your registration in courses without academic consequences”) is the last time you can go onto ROSI and just cancel your course without giving reasons and petitioning.
After the Drop Date you will need a petition for Late Withdrawal if you have a serious problem that prevents you from finishing the course. This is not a matter for an instructor’s discretion; instructors cannot grant Late Withdrawal. After the Drop Date, this can only come as a response to a petition.
The Drop Date is roughly 3/4 of the way through a course. This means that the Faculty gives you most of the course to decide whether you can or want to complete it. They also insist that your instructors return to you at least one significant piece of marked work so you have an idea how you are doing. Most instructors do much more than the minimum, so you usually have a pretty clear idea of how a course is going.
Once the Drop Date arrives, the Faculty assumes that you have reviewed your situation, assessed your health, your personal circumstances, your ability in the subject, your marks so far in the course –all the factors you need to review when deciding whether or not to drop the course. They will assume you have made an informed decision –explicitly or implicitly– and, having made your decision, they hold you responsible for living with the results of that decision.
Essentially, the only sort of reason they are willing to consider for Late Withdrawal is that something happened after the Drop Date that you could not control or foresee which prevents you from completing the course. Something may have emerged unexpectedly, or a personal or medical situation may have gradually grown worse or taken an unexpected turn after the Drop Date, but something has happened that you were unable to factor into your decision or allow for in your planning. Talk with your college registrar’s office if you are having such problems.
Requests & Results
In your petition you are requesting “Late Withdrawal Without Academic Penalty.” The “academic penalty” is not any specially punitive mark; you will simply be assigned whatever marks you have earned for completed work and then be assigned zero for any uncompleted work. The result will likely be an unwanted mark. If your petition for Late Withdrawal is granted, the course will still appear on your transcript, but with a ‘WDR’ entered instead of a mark (indicating Withdrawal). It is a neutral designation and is not factored into your GPA.
By asking for Late Withdrawal, you are essentially arguing that you cannot complete the course. This means that Late Withdrawal is not appropriate for some situations. If you have completed everything in the course but failed the course – especially if you have written the Final Exam – Late Withdrawal is not appropriate. If you passed the course, although with a mark you don’t like or want, Late Withdrawal is not appropriate. If you are at the end of the course and cannot write the Final Exam or complete the assignments on time, Late Withdrawal may not be appropriate, but a remedy more proportionate to the problem may be, such as Extensions or a Deferred Exam. Talk with your college registrar’s office to see what is appropriate for your particular circumstances.
You may request Late Withdrawal up until 6 months after the end of the session (mid-November for the Fall/Winter Session; end of February for the Summer Session; see the Calendar). That may sound like a long time, but for those having serious problems it is sometimes difficult. It means that you cannot go away and come back to resolve your academic problems much later when you are in better shape. You must deal with your academic business within a reasonable period, which the Faculty defines as 6 months. You should at least contact your college registrar’s office.
You may have a case to make for an exception to this deadline, if for example you were physically or mentally incapacitated for longer than 6 months, but you will certainly void your case if you enrol in further courses within the 6-month period without dealing with the older issues. The Faculty’s position is that if you were able to register for further courses, you were able to deal with your past courses. The basic advice: protect your academic record and talk with your college registrar’s office if you have problems.
You will not receive any refund for a course dropped by petition, nor for courses dropped for any reason after the last date for refunds as set down in the Refund Schedule. The question of refunds is not connected at all to the academic withdrawal; refunds are driven entirely by the Refund Schedule and the date of the transaction, not the reasons for dropping.
Students often think that, if they must drop for reasons beyond their control, they should not be charged the fee. The University’s fees policy makes it clear that students enrolled in a course past the Course Change Period will be charged the relevant fee. They may make the academic decision to drop up until the Drop Date, or be granted WDR by petition, but this has no connection to fees. There is no fees appeal mechanism for presenting your reasons for a refund.
When to Drop a Course
It’s worth noting here some of the good reasons for dropping a course. If any of these scenarios reflects your situation before the Drop Date, you should seriously consider dropping:
- If your marks are marginal – especially if you are failing term tests – and you are at risk of failing, you should seriously consider dropping, especially if you are On Probation or otherwise at risk.
- If you have health problems that do not look like they will improve.
- If you have missed so much term work that you either don’t know how you are doing or cannot possibly make it up. (Don’t be overly optimistic about your prospects.)
- If you have missed large numbers of classes, especially if you have not discussed this with your instructor. (Again, don’t be overly optimistic.)
- If you think you will make a miraculous recovery on the Final Exam. (Students rarely find their marks go up on Final Exams.)
- If you are not getting the mark you need for a desired Subject Post or some other goal you have in mind (e.g. graduate school, a professional program, etc.).
This is good advice, but it is more than that: if you were aware you had any of these problems before the Drop Date and did not drop the course, the Faculty assumes you factored these into your decision and holds you responsible for the decision you made.
Valid & Invalid Reasons
Students have many reasons for wanting out of a course after the Drop Date: academic, medical, family, personal. Many are legitimate and acceptable; indeed, the problems that students encounter in a faculty as large as Arts & Science are more varied than you would imagine. The best advice for those with real problems is to talk them over with your college registrar’s office.
Many students do not want to drop a course at the Drop Date because they do not want to lose the money they have already invested in the course. Parents sometimes think of dropping courses in this context. However, you should remember that if the course goes badly, not only will you have paid the full fee – but for a failing mark. Make your academic success your top priority when making these decisions, and protect your academic record.
Many reasons for wanting out of a course are perfectly legitimate – before the Drop Date – but not accepted by the Faculty after the Drop Date as reasons for granting Late Withdrawal. Some familiar ones are:
- I’m going to fail.
- I won’t get a mark that reflects my true ability.
- I don’t like the professor.
- I’m not going to get the mark I need for medical school, law school, grad school, etc.
- I don’t need the course any longer.
- My parents wouldn’t let me drop my failing course until now.
- I didn’t want to lose the tuition I paid for the course but now I’m going to fail.
- I’ve had money problems and was too busy working to think about dropping.
Again, these may be real enough reasons for wanting to drop, but they are not sufficient for Late Withdrawal. Weigh your situation carefully as the Drop Date approaches. Consult your college registrar’s office beforehand for help assessing your situation, or help handling your general academic situation if a petition appears not to be the appropriate remedy.
**While You’re Waiting…**
Students who have initiated a petition for Late Withdrawal when the course is still in progress often want to know if they should continue with term work or write the Final Exam while they are waiting for a response. A reasonable question, but one not easily answered.
The basic idea, as noted above, is that you are requesting Late Withdrawal because you cannot complete the course, and so continuing with term work or exams is not a relevant issue. However, some students with problems must reduce their course load to manage, and so they have to weigh the risks involved in assuming the petition will be granted and stopping work in the course. The best advice in this situation is to see your college registrar’s office. The staff there can usually give you a good reading of the possibilities, and may be able to expedite a decision so the risk is minimized.
Regarding the Final Exam, the Petitions Office will not treat your writing of the Final Exam as undermining your petition request, provided you have filed your petition in that period between the Drop Date and the end of classes in the course (and have not completed all the term work, in which case a Deferred Exam petition would be more appropriate). You will not be asked to gamble “all or nothing” by writing or not writing the exam, provided your petition has been filed. Again, follow up with your registrar’s office if you haven’t received an answer to your petition as the Final Exam approaches. They are in the best position to help you.
Grading Practices Policy
A special class of petition to be allowed to drop a course after the Drop Date arises from infractions of the Grading Practices Policy (printed in the back of the Calendar). The most frequent GPP grounds are that students have not received “at least one piece of term work which is a part of a student performance, whether essay, lab report, review, etc.” before the Drop Date. You must receive back one piece of marked work to give you an indication of how you are doing in the course. It need not be large. In fact, it may represent only a small fraction of the final mark and still fall within the rules. These infractions occur less frequently than students often believe, so if you think this applies to you and you want to withdraw from the course, you should consult your college registrar’s office to discuss the situation.
Generally the way this is applied in Arts & Science is that an infraction has occurred when you have done your part in the normal way but the instructor has not met his or her obligations under the GPP. If you have not received anything back because you missed tests or handed in assignments late –for whatever reason– this is not an infraction if the instructor returned the piece of term work on time to those who completed it on time or wrote the test. If you missed the test or had an extension beyond the Drop Date, you will just have to assess your progress in the course by how well you seem to understand the material.
In these cases, The Petitions Office will check with the instructor or department to see if an infraction did occur. If so, you will essentially be given a course Drop effective on the Drop Date (not the beginning of the course), with the implications that normally has: the course is removed from your academic record and no refund is given (as the refund date is long past).
Deadline: You must file a GPP petition before the end of classes in the relevant course; you cannot wait to see your final mark before you decide.
In general, Late Withdrawal is a last resort, and other less-final remedies may help you salvage a course or your year. Timing is important with Late Withdrawal, both to meet the deadlines and to give you the best possible chance of addressing your problems and moving ahead with your studies. Get some advice from your college registrar’s office on issues that appear to threaten your success or completion, and sooner rather than later. If Late Withdrawal is not possible, you will know that you have to redouble your efforts and do the best you can under the circumstances. If Late Withdrawal is granted, especially before the end of the term, you will have more time to focus on your other courses. In any case, you will have a better opportunity to address your problems, perhaps using the many support services the University makes available.
If you have been Suspended for poor academic performance and think you might want to petition, you should understand the purpose and thinking behind the Faculty’s policy on “Academic Standing.”
Students have their “status” assessed at the end of each session (i.e., in May for the Fall/Winter session, and in August for the Summer session). If your Cumulative GPA falls below 1.50, you are no longer “In Good Standing.” (See the Calendar for the full rules on “Standing, Academic Probation, and Suspension.”)
The first time it happens, you are placed “On Probation.” This is meant as a warning light – signalling “Proceed with caution!” The Faculty’s intention with Probation is to notify you that your results are not adequate and that, if you continue with this level of performance, you will not graduate.
All students on Probation receive an explicit warning from the Faculty in the form of a Probation Letter with their Statement of Results, advising them to read the explanation in the Calendar, and advising them to seek counselling or explanations from their college registrar’s office before proceeding, or immediately if they are registered in Summer courses. Students will probably also receive a letter from their college registrar’s office inviting them in for counselling.
If you receive such a letter, you should definitely take up the invitation to speak with your college registrar’s office –especially if you are enrolled in the Summer Session. Summer courses represent a special hazard to students on Probation: they are so compressed you may find yourself facing Suspension before you have had a chance to address your academic difficulties.
Probation is not petitionable, since you are permitted to enrol in further courses and work things out. The Faculty assumes that you will do just that: heed the warning, seek advice, get help and then sort through and fix whatever problems led to Probation in the first place –by changing academic direction, working on study skills, sorting out family or medical problems, or whatever else is necessary.
If you do enrol in further courses when you are “On Probation” and your performance does not improve sufficiently by the end of the session when your Standing is assessed again, you may find yourself “Suspended for One Year” in the first instance, or “Suspended for Three Years” if things do not improve subsequently. (Again, see the Calendar for the full rules.)
Very few students welcome a Suspension, and many want to petition to be allowed to continue immediately. They often want to “make up for lost time” and promise to redouble their efforts. However, they have just spent one whole session on Probation and their results are still marginal. They are not headed in the right direction.
When you petition to have a Suspension lifted, you must recognize that the Petitions Office has three things in the back of its mind when it reads your request:
- You were clearly warned in advance that you were in a “danger zone,” once by the letter from the Faculty, and usually again in a letter from your college registrar’s office.
- You were advised to get help sorting things out and to get advice if they still weren’t going well.
- You appear not to have resolved the problems that led to your Probation and then your Suspension, since your results have not improved significantly.
For this reason, petitions to “Lift a Suspension” are rarely granted. This is not meant to be punitive – indeed, just the opposite. Allowing you to enrol in even more courses without having resolved your problems just means that you will be in even deeper GPA difficulty at the end of the next year – so deep you may never get up to the 1.85 CGPA needed to graduate. When the Faculty “suspends” you, it does just that: it puts you “on hold” so you can sort things out, and then restarts you where you left off. Most students who make good use of the year “on hold” do sort things out, and then they return in a much better frame of mind and move ahead successfully to Good Standing and graduation.
A petition with a plausible chance of success generally has these features:
- It must provide a good explanation for the whole academic record that led to the Suspension in the first place (since Suspension is based on the Cumulative GPA).
- It must account for the fact that you did not, or could not, recognize the warning signs outlined in the Probation Letter, and that you did not take the actions suggested there, such as getting advice, dropping courses, etc. in the session when you were On Probation.
- It must also demonstrate that whatever problems you had before are now resolved so that there is a very good likelihood of immediate success if you were allowed to continue without sitting out.
This may sound easy enough – “Everything’s okay now!” – but it is not. If in the previous sessions you have had problems serious enough and long-standing enough to lead to a Suspension at the end of one session, it is not easy to demonstrate that they are all now resolved at the beginning of the next session. It usually does take students on Suspension the full year to resolve their issues, recover, and then prepare to return in a frame of mind suitable for academic success.
No one likes to be told they are Suspended, to be compelled to take time away. Even if students know they need a break, they would prefer to do it voluntarily. And most students do not want to take the time off at all. However, most students who have been Suspended do report at the end of their year off that they have found the break very useful. Certainly, if you have been Suspended and are considering petitioning, make an appointment with your college registrar’s office to talk over your chances and your options. It’s often better to get on with the beneficial year off than to spend weeks and months in petitions and appeals that prevent you from fully dealing with the circumstances that produced the Suspension in the first place. Your college registrar’s office may be able to help you sort out what is best for your individual situation.