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Comprehensive Probation Initiative helps students get off academic probation

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By Joshua Vissers

Grand Rapids Community College was honored March 26 with recognition from the National Council of Instructional Administrators for the Comprehensive Probation Initiative enacted by the Counseling and Career Center.

The initiative aims to help students who land on academic probation bounce back into their scholastics rather than drop out.

“My first semester, I didn’t dedicate myself to school,” said London Nathan, 32, who now holds a GPA of 4.0 as a business major. “I kind of gave up on myself.”

Lynnae Selberg
Lynnae Selberg

Lynnae Selberg, program director of the Counseling and Career Center, spearheads the program, but the effort is cross-departmental, including staff from enrollment, financial aid and the tutoring center as well.

“The (academic success) workshop is really geared to try to inform students as to what probation means, what they can and need to do to come off probation and help themselves become successful,” Selberg said. “We’ve tried to make it more interactive, rather than just sitting there, listening to someone lecturing at you.”

The results of the revamped programs and personable, intentional communication to students has been apparent.

“The first semester that we did this, we saw over 100 fewer students go from probation to suspension, and we saw well over 100 students that went from probation to good standing,” Selberg said.

“They helped me out with different classes and different workshops to go to and I have to say it definitely helped…” Nathan said. “It seemed like everything kind of opened up for me.”

Of thousands of entries, GRCC’s program was awarded an honorable mention, and was invited to Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. to present at the International Conference on College Teaching and Learning.

With programs and information available, it still comes down to students taking that first step.

“If they(students) run into any trouble academically or personally, please come talk to us,” Selberg said. “Sometimes the decisions they don’t make now can really impact their ability to be successful later.”

“You have to communicate with the staff,” Nathan said. “That’s the first step, because if you give up and try to put all the weight on yourself, that’s how you got in that position the first time.”

For more information about the GRCC Counseling and Career Center, visit their website at grcc.edu/counselingandcareercenter.