Academic Policy 

Academic Advising

Westminster College regards academic advising by full-time faculty as an important part of the undergraduate experience. Entering freshmen are typically paired with the faculty member who leads their Westminster Seminar; this individual serves as their advisor and continues in this capacity until the student declares a major. Upon declaring a major, students are advised by a faculty member in their major department. The student and advisor consult on a periodic basis in regard to the student’s academic program, schedule of courses and academic progress. The advisor is the first person a student should contact for assistance with an academic or personal problem. If necessary, the advisor will refer the student to other persons on campus.

Academic Warning, Probation, and Dismissal

Academic Warning: A student is placed on academic warning when he or she has a cumulative or semester grade point average (GPA) that falls below 2.0 but their cumulative GPA does not warrant their being placed on Academic Probation. As a 2.0 is required for graduation, the academic warning status is intended to give students notice that their academic success is in eventual jeopardy unless their grades improve. Students on academic warning may be offered special support services. When a student is placed on Academic Warning, there is no transcript notation and the following individuals are notified: the student, his or her advisor(s), Dean of Faculty, Dean of Students, and as appropriate the Academic Assistance Coordinator, Director of the Learning Opportunities Center, Director of Counseling and Health, and Coach.

Academic Probation: A student is placed on academic probation when his or her academic progress is insufficient enough to necessitate a final warning prior to dismissal. Students are place on academic probation when they fail to earn a 1.0 GPA in a single semester or fail to meet a specified minimum standard with respect to their cumulative GPA. The applicable standard varies with the number of hours the student has completed and is given in the table below.

Standards for Academic Probation:

Minimum Acceptable GPA for Hours Completed

0 to 26.9 hrs /1.65 gpa
27 to 56.9 hrs /1.85 gpa
57 or more hrs /2.00 gpa

When a student is placed on academic probation or continued on probation, an appropriate notation is made on the student’s transcript, and the following are notified: the student, his or her advisor(s), Dean of Faculty, Dean of Students, and as appropriate the Academic Assistance Coordinator, Director of the Learning Opportunities Center, Director of Counseling and Health, and Coach.

To be removed from academic probation, a student must demonstrate that he or she is capable of meeting the graduation requirement of a 2.00 cumulative GPA. This is demonstrated by completion of a semester of at least 12 credit hours with a GPA of 2.00 or better and by raising his or her cumulative GPA to at least the minimum acceptable level according the standards above. Students on academic probation will be offered special support services.

When a student is removed from probation, transcript notations related to academic probation are removed from the student’s transcript, and the following are notified: the student, his or her advisor(s), Dean of Faculty, Dean of Students, and as appropriate the Academic Assistance Coordinator, Director of the Learning Opportunities Center, Director of Counseling and Health, and Coach.

Students on probationary status must meet with the Associate Dean of Faculty prior to the first day of classes to discuss a plan for their future academic progress. Terms of academic probation may include but are not limited to restriction in participating in the following:

• College athletic competition
• Fraternity or sorority recruitment, rush, or pledgeship
• Officer duties in any student organization
• Other co-curricular or extra-curricular activities that may
   impede their academic progress

If part of a student’s plan includes restrictions on co-curricular involvement, the student may appeal to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty for further consideration.

Academic Dismissal

Students not making satisfactory progress towards a degree are subject to academic dismissal. Students become subject to dismissal by failing to meet the probation GPA standards above for two consecutive semesters or by earning a GPA of 1.0 or less in any single semester. Extenuating circumstances will be considered before a final decision to academically dismiss a student. Positive or negative evidence of academic effort, contribution to the campus community, or other outside circumstances may be considered. Students have the right to appeal their dismissals to the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty. Any student whose appeal of academic dismissal is granted by the Dean is
automatically placed on Academic Probation. Academic dismissal is noted on the student transcript. Extenuating circumstances will be considered before a final decision to academically dismiss a student. Positive or negative evidence of academic effort, contribution to the campus community, or other outside circumstances may be considered. Students have the right to appeal their dismissals to the Senior Vice President and Dean of Faculty. Academic dismissal is noted on the student transcript.

Any student who has been dismissed for academic reasons and who seeks to return to Westminster College must apply for readmission through the Admissions Office. Applications for readmission are not usually accepted until at least a year after the student was dismissed, although in exceptional circumstances an application for readmission may be considered after only one semester. Students who are readmitted are readmitted on probation and are subject to immediate dismissal if their work is not satisfactory.

Academic Review Board

The Academic Review Board is a group (Dean of Students, Associate Dean of Faculty, Director of Counseling & Health Services, academic advisor, coach, and others as appropriate) which convenes as necessary during a semester when it is determined that a student is no longer engaged in the academic process—not attending classes, not completing class work, etc. The Academic Review Board works with the student to develop a plan of action for completing the semester successfully. At any time during the semester, this board has the authority to place a student on Academic Warning, Academic Probation, or to administratively withdraw the student from the college if they determine that the student cannot successfully complete the semester. Typically, grades of WF or WP (as appropriate) are recorded on the student transcript if the student is administratively withdrawn.

Assessment

Westminster College has developed an assessment program for measuring progress toward its mission and academic and co-curricular goals. The college regularly asks for student participation in assessment activities in order to acquire information that is used to improve the college’s programs and to maintain its accredited status with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.

College-wide assessments are designed to measure student progress toward the college mission and learning goals and to determine satisfaction with various college offices and services. Each academic department also has an assessment plan to measure student progress toward the learning goals delineated for each major.

Assessments of the college mission, college learning goals, major learning goals, the goals of the co-curricular program, and college services are made on a regular basis. Student participation in assessment activities is critical and invaluable in helping the college to maintain and improve its programs and services and to maintain its accredited status.

Thus, all students are expected to participate in all college-wide and department assessments. All students are responsible for participating in the assessment activities for each major they have declared.

Attendance

Although there is no College-wide policy regarding absences, regular attendance is expected, and instructors are free to establish absence policies for their classes. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange to complete work missed due to an absence and to ascertain what assignments, if any, were given to the class during his or her absence. Absences incurred while representing the College in approved activities are classified as College duty absences. The Office of Academic Affairs must approve such absences at the request of the sponsor of the activity in question. No student shall be penalized for absence on approved College duty, but instructors may require that work missed because of a College duty absence be made up. A maximum of two such absences is allowed per semester, and the students are to submit requests to the Dean of Faculty at least two weeks in advance of an absence. Under exceptional circumstances, the Dean of Faculty may grant waivers to this policy on a case-by-case basis. Detailed information on the College Duty policy can be obtained from the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Student Life.

Auditing Courses

Students may visit a class with the permission of the instructor. In this case no record is kept and there are no fees applied. A student may register to audit a course with the permission of the instructor. Auditors are not necessarily responsible for the completion of class work or taking examinations but should attend class on a regular basis. A course that is entered on the student’s permanent record as audited earns no credit and fulfills no requirements. See the Registrar for more information.

Change of Schedule

Students may add courses to their schedules in the fall and spring semesters during the first week of classes (five class days). Students may drop courses from their schedules in the fall and spring semesters during the first three weeks of classes (see the academic calendar for dates). No change of schedule is effective until the Academic Advisor has approved the schedule change. Students are cautioned that they are not withdrawn from a course until the paperwork has been completed and submitted to
the Registrar.

Course Loads

Students enrolled in 12 or more credits during a given semester are regarded as full-time students. The typical course load is five courses or 14 to 16 credit hours per semester. Registering for more than 19 credit hours per semester requires the approval of the Vice President and Dean of Faculty. Students who are approved to register for an overload will be subject to additional charges for each credit hour over 19 (see the section on Tuition and Fees for more information).

Grade Reports

By entering their confidential username and password, students may access their midterm and final grades through the campus computer network. A printable version of the grade report is also available to students on the Campus WEB. Westminster College does not mail grade reports. (Information regarding the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is included in this catalog or can be obtained online at FERPA Compliance)

Grades and Quality Point System

A Outstanding 4 quality points per credit hour

B Superior, Above Average 3 quality points per credit hour

C Satisfactory, Average 2 quality points per credit hour

D Passing, Below Average 1 quality point per credit hour

F Failing, No Credit 0 quality points per credit hour

WF Withdrew Failing

WP Withdrew Passing

W Medical, Military or other Withdrawal

CR Earned credit, by an examination or in a course which CR-F grading is mandatory, or "C" or higher in a course taken on an optional CR-D-F basis

TR Transferred to Westminster with a grade of "C" or higher

IN
Incomplete

AU
Audit

Plus and minus grades are not recorded. College policy stipulates that only courses with grades of C or higher satisfy prerequisite requirements. However, each department decides what grade will satisfy its prerequisite requirements. Only courses completed with passing grades (A, B, C, D and CR) earn hours of credit.

Credit-D-F: In any given semester, sophomores, juniors, and seniors may elect to take one Westminster College course outside their majors on a CR-D-F (Credit-D-Failing) basis, but no student may count more than four such courses toward the minimum hours required for graduation. A course that includes an accompanying required laboratory is regarded as one course even though students must enroll for the lecture and laboratory separately.

Since courses with grades of CR do not enter into the computation of a student’s grade point average, the CR-D-F option allows a student to take courses in unfamiliar subjects or in subjects the student finds difficult at a reduced risk to his or her grade point average. Students who desire to take a course on a CR-D-F basis must complete and file the appropriate form in the Office of the Registrar by the time specified in the academic calendar.

Students should consult with their advisors before electing to take a course CR-D-F. Both potential employers and graduate and professional schools may look with disfavor upon grades of CR in a student’s undergraduate record. Many graduate and professional schools do not regard courses with grades of CR as satisfying their requirements for admission to various degree programs.

Incomplete Grades: An instructor may assign the temporary grade of IN (Incomplete) only if circumstances beyond the student’s control prevent completing the work required in the course and it would be possible for the student to earn a passing grade if the work remaining were to be satisfactorily completed. Ordinarily, the student must complete the work remaining within six weeks from the beginning of classes in the semester immediately following the incomplete grade. The Vice President and Dean of Faculty is authorized to grant an extension if one is sought by both the student and the course instructor and the Dean is satisfied that circumstances merit a special accommodation. The maximum extension permitted is to the last day of final examinations; in no case is an IN allowed to remain on a student’s record after grades are posted for the semester immediately following the semester the student was registered for the course.

Refunds

No refund will be made after the eighth week of the semester. If the student withdraws prior to this date, s/he may receive a refund based on the refund schedule in the Westminster College Catalog. Questions regarding the refund should be directed to the Business Office or Financial Aid Office.

Registration

Freshmen register for the first semester classes during the spring or summer preceding the beginning of their first semester. They are encouraged to participate in the on-campus registration process, which provides an opportunity for students to communicate directly with their academic advisors. If students cannot participate in the on-campus process, they may register by telephone with their advisor. Continuing students should register for following semester courses in accordance with the registration schedules established each year.

Repeating Courses

A student may not repeat a course in which he or she has earned a grade of A, B, or C. When a course with a grade of D or F is repeated, only the grade (quality points) and credit hours for the most recent taking of the course will enter into computations of the student’s grade point average and be counted toward graduation.

Student Classification

Regular Student: a degree-seeking student formally admitted to Westminster College for a program of study leading to a baccalaureate degree. Regular students are classified as:

Freshman - fewer than 27 credit hours

Sophomore - at least 27 and fewer than 57 credit hours

Junior - at least 57 and fewer than 88 credit hours

Senior - 88 or more credit hours

Full-time Student: a student who, in any given semester, is enrolled for a minimum of 12 credit hours.

Part-time Student: a student who, in any given semester, is enrolled for fewer than 12 credit hours.

Non-Degree Seeking Student: a student who has been permitted to enroll for credit in one or more courses but who has not been accepted as a regular student.

Summer Session

Tentative course offerings will be announced at the time of spring registration. Students who plan to participate in internships for credit or work on independent study projects during the summer months should check with the Office of the Registrar to determine whether they must enroll for the summer session to receive academic credit for their summer work.

Winter Term Limited

Occasionally courses maybe offered between fall and spring.

Transfer Credit

Dual Enrollment and Dual Credit Programs: Westminster will treat credit in dual enrollment programs offered by other institutions and dual credit programs as transfer credit so long as it is presented on an official transcript from an accredited college or university with a grade of "C" or better earned. This credit will be counted toward Westminster’s general degree requirements; however, departmental evaluation will be required before it may be counted toward completion of a specific degree program. Thus, students seeking to transfer credit for dual enrollment/credit to Westminster may expect that credit will be counted toward undergraduate requirements subject to the College’s transfer policies and procedures; however, it is possible that not all credit will transfer toward a particular degree program. Students are encouraged to contact the appropriate department chair to determine if transfer is possible in individual cases.

International and Off-Campus Programs: Students enrolled in affiliated or exchange programs in another country will receive the grade of "CR" (Credit) for all courses passed at the host institution. The titles of the courses, the grade of "CR", and the credit hours will be listed on the student’s transcript. A notation will be included after the semester totals to indicate that the student was enrolled in a Westminster affiliated off-campus program along with the name and location of the institution at
which the courses were completed. The grade of "CR" will not affect the student’s grade point average (GPA), and only grades of "CR" will be recorded on the Westminster transcript. A notation that the student was enrolled in an affiliated off-campus program will be recorded on the Westminster College transcript for those students who do not receive credit while studying abroad on an affiliated off-campus program.

For students interested in participating in the Chicago Urban Studies Program and the Washington Semester Program, grades and credit hours will be treated as follows: all credit hours earned in the above U.S. programs will transfer directly to Westminster College. Grades earned in the courses will be figured into the student’s GPA at Westminster. Students may elect to take one course Credit D-F subject to the policy stated in the college catalog.

International Transcript Policy:  Westminster College will consider transfer credit so long as it is presented on an official transcript from an accredited college or university with the grade of "C" or better. The transcript may be delivered in person from the student, if it is presented in a sealed envelope with the seal signed by the granting institution. Keep in mind that photocopies and unofficial copies may be used for advising purposes only. If a student submits an original International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, the Registrar’s Office will photocopy it, note that it has been copied from the original, and return the original to the students. The same policy applies to domestic as well as international students.

For international students who may be unable to produce an official transcript, advisors supported by the US Department of State may assist with this process. Education Advising / Information Centers around the world, together with additional information, can be found at www.educationusa.state.gov. Students should contact the Director of International and Off Campus Programs for more information regarding international transcripts.

International students should be encouraged to bring with them to campus several individually sealed envelopes of transcripts from institutions attended in their home country. Official transcripts may be required for scholarships, internships, or other purposes and having them in their possession will avoid potential problems or delays in the future. Please note that official transcripts submitted to the Registrar’s Office for transfer evaluation become property of Westminster College and will not be returned to the student.

Summer School and Correspondence Courses: 

Students may elect to take courses for transfer credit from other accredited institutions during the summer or by correspondence with the prior approval of their advisors and the chair of the department concerned. Written approval is required and assures that the credit will be accepted for any course in which the student earns a grade of "C" or better.

All Westminster students who attempt course work at another college or university must request, in writing, that official copies of their transcripts be sent to the Office of the Registrar at Westminster. Credits earned elsewhere are entered on the student’s record upon receipt of an official transcript, but the grades for transferred courses are not used in computing the grade point average.

Withdrawals

In the fall and spring semesters, a student may withdraw from a course during the period which begins after the third week of classes and ends fifteen class days after midterm (see the academic calendar for dates). The instructor for the course must submit a grade for the student’s work in the course to the date of withdrawal. On the basis of this grade, either a WP (Withdrew Passing) or a WF (Withdrew Failing) is recorded on the student’s transcript. Neither a WP nor a WF enters into the computation of the student’s grade point average. Students who do not complete the procedure for withdrawing from a course by the end of the prescribed period will receive a regular passing or failing grade at the end of the semester.

If a student withdraws from the College before the census date, he or she ceases to be a Westminster student and must apply and be accepted by admissions to re-enroll. It is not possible to withdraw from a course after the end of the withdrawal period except for military activation or medical reasons (see Medical Withdrawal Policy below). A student may withdraw for medical reasons up to two weeks before the beginning of finals week. After this point a student may be eligible to receive incomplete grades (see Incomplete Grades above). Withdrawal for medical reasons does not relieve a student of any financial obligations at the College.

Medical Withdrawal Policy 

The college understands that certain health circumstances can significantly interfere with the ability to be engaged in academic work; when this happens, a method for modifying one’s course load should be available that minimizes negative consequences. The Medical Withdrawal Policy allows students to withdraw from one, a few, or all of their courses without an academic penalty, i.e., the grade of "W" will be placed on the transcript and the student’s grade point average will not be affected.

Who Qualifies? A student must be significantly affected by a health related problem to the degree that s/he is unable to successfully engage in academic work. The types of problems that qualify for a medical withdrawal range from those affecting one’s ability to ambulate from class to class (e.g., an orthopedic injury) to the emergence of a serious illness (e.g., diabetes) to a mental health concern (e.g., depression). Having one of these challenges does not, alone, qualify for this policy since many students are able to manage these health problems and succeed in their courses; however, a medical withdrawal is appropriate when the level of challenge exceeds one’s ability to continue with the present course load.

Verification by a Health Care Provider: A health care professional must provide a statement that verifies that a significant health care problem exists. This verification letter should be sent directly to the Dean of Student Life and must include the following information: a) a medical rationale/diagnosis and date initially seen; b) the extent and timing of contact with the student (e.g., family physician, one-time visit, inpatient treatment, six-weeks of counseling); and c) a short prognosis/treatment recommendation and an estimate of future/potential missed class days due to treatment/rehabilitation, etc.

Extent of Withdrawal: The student may request a withdrawal from all courses, some courses, or just one course. When a slight reduction in the number of courses provides enough relief for the student to succeed in the remainder of his/her courses, the student may withdraw from only a course or two; however, in many cases the health concern is so serious that a withdrawal from all courses is appropriate. A partial withdrawal, if feasible, is encouraged in order to preserve any earned credit. The decision to request a partial or full withdrawal should be made with the consultation of the academic advisor, the health care provider, and a member of the Counseling and Health Services Staff.

Notification of Withdrawal and Medical Withdrawal Forms: These forms are available in the Office of Student Life. If you are certain that you will be withdrawing from all courses, use the Notification of Withdrawal form, which requires the signatures of your advisor, a Financial Aid Officer, a Business Office representative and the Dean of Student Life. If you are choosing to withdraw from one or more courses, but not all of your courses, you should submit a Medical Withdrawal form for each class you are leaving. This form requires the signatures of your advisor and the Dean of Student Life. These forms, along with the verification of your health care provider, should be returned to the Student Life Office. If a student is physically unable to initiate the process and gain the necessary signatures, they may designate a parent to do so.
 
NOTE TO STUDENTS WITHDRAWING FROM ONE OR MORE COURSES BUT NOT ALL COURSES: Until ALL signatures have been obtained for each course from which you are choosing to withdraw and documentation has been received from a health care provider, you should continue attending the class(es). You are considered enrolled in the class until you receive official notification otherwise.

Factors That Positively Influence Your Receiving a Medical Withdrawal

  1. Early involvement with your academic advisor and/or a staff member in Counseling and Health Services.
  2. Direct, clear, and timely documentation by your health care provider.
  3. Indications that you were fully engaged in your academic work prior to illness.

If you have questions regarding the medical withdrawal process, you should contact the Student Life Office or the Director of Counseling and Health Services.

* Parents or guardians are involved in this process when any of the following conditions are present: a) the student is under 18 years of age; b) the student gives written permission for parents or guardian to be contacted and involved in this process; c) the student’s health is endangered to the point that s/he is unable to understand the gravity of the situation or is incapable of making an informed and responsible decision regarding his/her academic and/or health care option.

Re-Admission due to Medical Withdrawal: Regardless of the length of their absence, students receiving a medical withdrawal must complete two requirements before re-entering Westminster College. The first is to formally apply for readmission through the Admissions Office. This is a very simple procedure but required. Secondly, former students will provide evidence that those factors upon which the medical withdrawal was granted are now diminished to the point that the student can become fully engaged in his/her academic work. In order to establish this change of circumstances, the student must:

  1. Provide documentation from a health care provider verifying that significant progress has been made. This documentation should also include a recommendation for ongoing care so that the condition doesn’t reappear.
  2. Write a letter that summarizes how the situation is improved and what s/he will be doing to prevent relapse.

These documents should be given to the Dean of Student Life well in advance (two weeks minimum) of the beginning of the semester the student wishes to attend. Students should begin the readmission process as soon as possible once they determine they want to return and work on both requirements simultaneously.