Policy Changes

Admissions

 Midterm Grades

Grades for Withdrawing 

Replacing Course Grades 

 Advisees on Suspension

Advisees Taking Challenging Courses 

 Academic Restart

Attendance 

Regular Evaluation

Interim Grades 

UNV 101 

 

 

 

Admissions

On October 15, 2013, President Bennett approved the implementation of new undergraduate admissions deadlines, effective Fall 2014 for both the Hattiesburg and Gulf Coast campuses.

June 30 - Freshmen

August 15 - Transfer (Friday preceding start of classes)

August 19 - Readmission (Day prior to the start of classes)

Students must be officially admitted to the university by the stated deadlines, though they may appeal for late acceptance through the Admissions appeal process. Questions about the new policy should be directed to Amanda King, Director of Admissions for Operations.

 
Midterm Grades

“Midterm grades” will now be reported in the sixth week of classes rather than the 8th week, and they will thus be called “interim grades.”  Incompletes may not be given for interim grades.

Faculty are strongly encouraged to give an early assignment in classes that is assessed and includes feedback given to students. The assignment can be brief and not worth a substantial amount of credit; the point is to assess where students are academically and to give them feedback early in the term. Ideally, this assignment would be given in the second week of classes.  Research suggests that such a practice significantly improves student performance and helps identify students who need to seek out additional resources (e.g., tutoring).

 
Grades for Students Who Have Withdrawn

Students may not be given a WP or a WF.  Students may drop courses on days 1-6 of classes each semester and the course will not appear on their transcripts. From day 7-50, students may withdraw from the course and will receive a “W” on their transcript. After day 50, they receive a grade for the course and cannot withdraw.

 

Replacing Course Grades

Students can replace up to 12 credits of coursework if the same courses are retaken and a higher grade is earned. Prior to fall 2014 the limit was 6 credit hours.  The lower grade will still show up on the transcript, but it will be marked “Repeated” and will no longer count in their GPA calculation. Grade replacement is not automatic and must be requested from the Registrar’s Office.

 

Advisees on Suspension

Students on academic suspension from USM can take courses at another university then transfer the credits back to USM. They are encouraged to talk to their advisor prior to enrolling in classes elsewhere.

 

Advisees Taking Challenging Courses

When students select multiple courses that have historically high rates of Ds and Fs, they will receive a message that they should talk with their advisor. These students should be handled on a case-by-case basis to make sure students are adequately prepared for the schedule they have chosen.

 

Academic Restart

Undergraduate students who 1) have been out of school for at least 24 consecutive months (not taking classes at USM or elsewhere) and 2) wish to eradicate work done in previous semesters at USM may apply for an “Academic Restart.” If granted, all prior work at USM will be excluded from transcript calculations for requirements and GPA. Students cannot pick and choose among classes to exclude or keep; if they do the Academic Restart, all prior credits are ignored when calculating both progress towards degree and GPA. In other words, if they took five semesters that included three As in required classes and a host of Ds and Fs, they must include all these grades, even the As, as part of the Restart. They will then start a new transcript. The old classes will be visible on the transcript but the grades will not count and any course passed must be retaken.  The Academic Restart can only be used once, and students must go through an application process in the Registrar’s office.

 

Attendance

Studies show that class attendance can significantly improve academic performance and lower the time it takes to complete a degree. Regular class attendance promotes faculty/student engagement and allows for early assessment of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Absences in excess of 10% of the scheduled classes are detrimental to a student’s chance of success. Therefore, the University encourages all course instructors to adopt an attendance policy and to include that policy in the course syllabus. While the University may take attendance in classes, particularly in Undergraduate General Education Curriculum (GEC 01-05), for the purpose of collecting data to promote student academic success, the course instructor is solely responsible for determining the penalty for not attending classes and assigning attendance grades.

 

Regular Evaluation

The University encourages early and regular evaluation of students believing that students are most likely to succeed when they are given prompt feedback on graded work. Students who have not been evaluated by the end of the “withdraw with academic penalty” period (generally the fiftieth day of the semester during the Fall and Spring terms), may request a withdrawal (and grade of “W”) from the Withdrawal Committee up to seven days before last day that classes meet if they are able to demonstrate that evaluation prior to the end of the withdrawal period was a reasonable expectation based on the course syllabus and yet no grades were assigned.

The Steering Committee believes strongly in academic freedom and recognizes that evaluation of students should reflect the instructor’s educational goals. However, in most cases, students benefit from early and regular evaluation as well as the timely reporting of grades. Students need to know their weaknesses in order to address them and succeed. In light of this, the Steering Committee recommends the adoption and publication of the policy statement above.

We believe it is rare that instructors fail to assess and grade students during the first half of the semester, but we also feel that students must have access to the information they need to succeed. In the rare case where an instructor has failed in his or her responsibility, students should have the option to withdraw from the class.

 
Interim Grades

Interim grades will be officially reported at the end of the sixth week of classes. Interim grades will replace the current midterm grades.

Noel Levitz suggests that faculty report grades early in the semester so students will know the status of their grade before the academic drop deadline. Without adding more grading reports to faculty load, we recommend a practice of reporting grades six-weeks into the semester. These sixth-week grades will replace of midterm grades.

Suggested Best Practice 4.14.1 Faculty should provide a brief graded or diagnostic assignment to be turned in on the first class day of the second week of class for undergraduate classes.  By assessing this initial assignment, faculty members could identify at-risk students in the second week of class and assist them in providing assistance they need to be successful in their course. This practice has been used successfully at the University of Texas El Paso, a school with a similar student demographic to USM.

Suggested Best Practice 4.14.2 Faculty distribute and return a significant graded assignment at least three days before the date by which a student can drop a course without penalty. If students learn before the drop date that they are not going to succeed in the course, they would be able to drop without penalty and preserve their GPA and academic standing.

 
UNV 101
2.1 UNV 101 or an equivalent discipline-based course will be required of all first-year students.

2.2 UNV 101 will undergo a curricular revision, with UNV 101 and equivalent courses in the disciplines addressing common issues and establishing common expected learning outcomes.

2.3 UNV 101 instructors will either be paid or the course will be included in the course load of faculty.

2.4 UNV 301 or a discipline- or college-specific equivalent course will be required of all transfer students.