In 1979, the average freshman enrolled at a four-year private college could expect to pay just over $5,000 per year for their education, or about $20,000 total. Today, that same four-year degree at a private school will cost, on average, around $38,000 annually—totaling a whopping $152,000. Of course, these days, a Bachelor's degree doesn't get you nearly as far as a Master's or Ph.D. will; many companies won't even consider candidates without a degree of some kind.
There's more pressure put on young adults to attend college than ever before, and the stakes are a lot higher, too. That's why being dismissed from your post-secondary school can have a catastrophic effect on not just your education but your entire future. If you have been suspended from the institution where you are enrolled, or if you're under disciplinary review and are afraid that you might be expelled, the steps you take next are crucial. Let's take a closer look.
Why Would a College or University Expel Someone?
With schools raking in all that money per student, why would they want to kick students out?
It's in a university's best interests to retain high-performing students who are likely to graduate and to continue on a successful path after graduation. Students who are poor academic performers, on the other hand, are less desirable. Whether they have trouble understanding the material, fail to submit assignments, get low marks on tests, cut too many classes, or some combination of these problems, such students don't reflect well on the school's image. They also drag down its graduation rate.
Furthermore, if failing students stuck around, they would be using up valuable resources, like scholarships, dorm rooms, and slots in popular courses or small, prestigious programs. These are opportunities that prospective students, particularly those who were rejected or waitlisted after applying, would snap up in a hot second.
Probation and Suspension: Steps That Can Prevent Expulsion
Often, a college would rather put a student on probation or suspend them than allow them to be a drain on resources because they're not living up to their potential. Both measures can be valuable wake-up calls, spurring students to action and ideally preventing their dismissal from college.
Every Pennsylvania college and university has set forth specific procedures and requirements that students must fulfill in order to get back in the school's good graces. These are designed to separate the temporarily sidetracked student from those who simply aren't responsible enough to be enrolled full-time—and likely won't succeed at college.
Academic probation allows the student to stay in classes but stipulates that they must earn a certain grade point average to remain enrolled. Generally, administrators will work with struggling scholars, offering them access to academic assistance programs and services. With this support, many students are able to redouble their efforts, learn new study skills, and get back on track.
Some institutions begin even earlier to warn students about their academic performance. At the University of Pittsburgh, for example, undergraduates receive an academic warning if their grade point average (GPA) slips below 2.0 for a term or if their cumulative GPA is between 2.00 and 2.125.
Two consecutive months of sub-2.00 GPAs or one semester below 2.00 cumulative GPA will result in academic probation at U. Pitt. Also at play are any specific department or program requirements that determine progress toward a degree; should a student fall short of these goals, they too may be placed on probation.
For other infractions, a school might suspend a student for a certain amount of time (usually one year). During that period, they have the chance to sort out their priorities and plans, with an eye toward deciding whether college is the right choice for them right now. At the end of the suspension, the student will need to apply for reinstatement before they can return to campus and register for classes.
Few post-secondary institutions will leap right to dismissal without first imposing these or other preliminary disciplinary actions—unless the student has committed a very serious infraction, typically one that also incurs criminal charges.
Misconduct and Its Consequences for Students
Aside from poor academic performance, the other main cause of expulsion is misconduct. Again, each Pennsylvania college or university has extensive documentation outlining the basics of student misconduct, including:
● The specific actions that constitute misconduct
● Information about the department and administrators who handle dedicated reports of misconduct
● The process by which misconduct is investigated and adjudicated
● Potential penalties for misconduct
● Information about appealing a misconduct hearing
This document is usually known as a code of conduct, honor code, or conduct agreement. No matter what it's called, every post-secondary student should familiarize themselves with its contents.
When an allegation is made against a student, the school is obliged to act quickly to investigate the incident and to quash any misconduct. Naturally, the disciplinary measures imposed are designed to be proportionate to the infraction. Students who are found responsible for relatively low-level honor code violations will likely be punished with the loss of privileges or even just a warning and a note in their record.
More serious offenses or repeated offenses could result in mandatory community service, lowered grades, revocation of scholarships, removal from on-campus housing, and on up to conduct-based probation, suspension, and expulsion.
Code of conduct violations can occur in the classroom or dorm room, on the quad or in the dining hall, even off-campus. Two of the most prevalent types are academic misconduct and sexual misconduct or Title IX infractions. Other problematic behavioral acts that can get students in hot water are:
● The use, possession, or distribution of illicit drugs
● Underage drinking or providing alcohol to a minor
● Fights, assaults, or other violent behavior, including domestic and dating violence
● Theft or misuse of university property
● Hate crimes
The Consequences of Dismissal
Being expelled from your university or college has serious repercussions. It's almost always an irrevocable decision that cannot be overturned. It can also make it much more difficult to continue on with higher education; while there are some schools that accept previous students with expulsion on their records, it's a much smaller selection.
Whether or not a suspension stays on your transcript depends on your school, but expulsions will invariably become a part of your permanent record. Even if it wasn't, you would still be asked—by other schools you're applying to and even future employers—why you didn't finish your degree at that institution. In other words, a dismissal will forever be a figurative, if not a literal, black mark on your name.
How An Attorney-Advisor Can Prove Invaluable
Delaying dealing with a problem invariably compounds that problem, and that's absolutely true when it comes to any issue that could result in dismissal from your university or college. If you're the independent type who hates asking for help or admitting a mistake, it will be necessary to work extra hard to get out of the troublesome situation in which you find yourself. Unfortunately, sheer hard work may not be enough. That's especially true if you are facing suspension or if you have been accused of misconduct that will likely lead to expulsion. As smart as you may be, you're simply not educated or experienced in the complex legal matters that underpin these decisions.
Every college and university in the state of Pennsylvania has a department known as the Office of General Counsel (or a similar name). Staffed by experienced attorneys, this office oversees all aspects of legal services. At the University of Pittsburgh, it's called the Office of University Counsel. According to the school's website, “OUC is a service organization that provides advice and counsel to the University of Pittsburgh community—the Board of Trustees, the Chancellor, the administration, faculty, and staff—on legal and policy matters, involving or affecting the institution.”
One incredible benefit of working with college dismissal attorney Joseph D. Lento is that he and his team have established relationships with lawyers and other legal professionals at many universities' Offices of General Counsel. This means they are uniquely positioned to broker an agreement on your behalf, even for students who are facing the strictest of punishments after having been found responsible for misconduct or who are no longer in good academic standing.
Facing Dismissal? Before You Lose Hope, Call Lento
Although Mr. Lento is an accomplished attorney, he does so much more than file lawsuits. His services are invaluable when it comes to preparing you for upcoming hearings, negotiating with college administrators on your behalf, and working to seek a solution that satisfies all parties, including you and your family.
If you're already on probation, if you're afraid that suspension or dismissal is all but inevitable, don't write off your college career. You can get back on track, and you don't have to go it alone. Turn to the expertise and dedication that the Lento Law Firm team takes pride in providing. Call today: 888-535-3683.