First Year Experience and Your Class Dean
The Office of the First Year Experience (FYE) ushered you in to this year with all of their involvement in Student Orientation. However, your connection to them doesn't have to end there. While we hope this will never be the case for you, FYE and your Class Dean are an excellent resource if significant personal circumstances (physical or mental health, family struggles, etc.) are impeding your ability to succeed in your classes. And, in appropriate cases, they work with you to facilitate the Leave of Absence process if you ever find yourself in a place where the best move for you personally is to withdraw for the semester. Read on to learn about situations where you should consider pulling in your Class Dean.
If you have missed class, it is possible that your professor will request documentation to confirm that it is an excused absence. If your absence was a direct result of going to the Student Health Center, that process will generally be automatic. However, there are many more things that qualify for excused absences (including positive things, like weddings), and in those cases, you will need to reach out for the excused absence documentation.
To do this, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the circumstance and any accompanying documentation. Details about common qualifications for excused absences and the required proof can be found at the link below.
Personal Circumstances Impeding Academics
Throughout the course of the semester, it is common to have some weeks that are tougher than others. Also, sometimes the answer to struggling in a class is simply to talk to your Hub advisor, drop it, and move on.
However, if you are in a situation where your mental health, physical health, family circumstances, or other serious issues are keeping you from performing up to your potential in several classes, that is when it is best to pull in your Class Dean. They can help coordinate communication with your professors for absences or extension requests, work with ALAC if you may need to consider dropping one or more courses after the drop deadline, and pull together both academic and student life resources in creative ways to try to help you persist successfully.
If these interventions are enough to get you back in a stable place for the semester, fantastic! However, once in awhile, students and their families may decide that the best move is to withdraw from the semester until life circumstances can settle down again. If so, the Class Dean can help you there too.
Leave of Absence
A leave of absence (LOA) is when a student intentionally withdraws from a semester of courses. The same term is used whether it is done before the semester begins (ex. it is the summer and you decide to take the fall semester off) or during the semester (ex. you started the fall semester and decided to withdraw midway through). While it may seem intimidating, it is sometimes the best option if you need time away from school to get your physical, mental, financial, or other circumstances back in order.
The Student Success website has excellent FAQ pages about LOAs and readmission. We have provided the links here, and pulled some highlights in the text below.
1) What will happen to my grades? As with many items on this list, the answer is that it will vary slightly based on the details of your situation. Obviously, if you declare the leave of absence before the semester begins, there will be no grades (and therefore no impact on your GPA) for the semester of your leave.
If you leave before the end of the 8th week of classes, your classes will be removed from your transcript, no grades will be given, and you will not receive credit for your courses. If you leave after the 8th week, your classes will remain on your record, you will receive "W" grades (reflects withdrawal, does not impact GPA), and you will not receive credit for your courses.
2) Will I get any money back on tuition? This depends on when in the semester you officially drop. As long as you withdraw before the end of 9 weeks, you can expect to receive at least some money back. The credit goes down each week the semester goes on, so if this is something you are seriously considering, do not delay in meeting with the Class Dean. The Bursar's Office has the tuition refund schedule available under "Refunds" at this link.
Much like tuition, housing and dining can potentially be refunded on a prorated basis. From the effective date of your leave, you generally have 72 hours to move out of campus housing.
3) Will this delay my graduation? Again, this will depend on a few factors. If you came in to RPI with transfer credits (AP/IB/etc.), it is possible your incoming credits could still have you on track to complete your requirements in the standard 4 years. Even if you don't have transfer credits already, there are options like taking summer courses at a community college that can get you back on schedule. If a leave is the right choice for you, it's important to take the time you need. Your advisor can always help you make a plan to figure out your schedule moving forward!
4) How long can I take a leave for? There is no set limit, but most commonly, students choose to take leave for one semester or one year.
5) I heard I have to go through a readmission process to come back, should I be worried? Honestly, no. The readmission process is not looking to penalize you or be competitive in any way. The main reason people get denied readmission is because they fail to submit their readmission application (or submit an incomplete one) and fail to resolve holds on their account (ex. Bursar hold). As long as you follow the steps laid out for you (your Class Dean will cover this in LOA counseling/set up), things should be pretty seamless and you don't need to worry.
With all of that being said, who is the first year Class Dean and how do you meet?
Your Class Dean for your first year at RPI is Janelle Fayette. Her email is email@example.com and you can book an appointment with her at the link below.