Issues in Continuing Education at Tulane University

So, you've decided to go back to school. Good for you! A continuing education (CE) program can give you the chance to move up at work, provide you with new credentials to use on the job market, or just enrich your life. Whatever your goal, CE can be an adventure like no other, a chance to grow and expand, meet new people, and prove to yourself that you're still a learner.

You've chosen a good school, too. Tulane University has a national reputation for scholarship, and the School of Professional Advancement (SoPA) has been offering courses for over 130 years. Of course that reputation and tradition mean you can expect to be held to the very highest academic and professional standards. Tulane doesn't just hand out credentials to anyone.

Below, you'll find all the information you need on the challenges ahead of you, both academic and non-academic. In addition, though, you'll find information on how to get help meeting those challenges. Education has changed dramatically in the last several years. You've changed too since the last time you were in school. When issues come up, you're going to want an advisor to help you deal with them. An attorney-advisor, someone with experience specifically working with students, can give you more than just advice, though. They can help you navigate the often complex world of academia and make sure your academic career stays on track.

Academics

You're going back to school to get an education. The first thing you need to know, then, is what will be expected of you academically.

Degree and Certificate Requirements

SoPA offers three different types of credentials: bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and certificates. Each of these has its own set of requirements and standards.

  • Undergraduate degrees: These degrees require 120 credit hours, including 30-45 hours in your major. As a freshman and sophomore, you can earn Dean's List honors for a GPA of 3.5. For juniors and seniors, the number is 3.67. Alternatively, you must maintain a 2.0 GPA to graduate; falling below 2.0 will get you put on academic probation, and three consecutive semesters below this number will get you dismissed from the program entirely.
  • Graduate degrees: As you might expect, graduate degrees require more from students. Of course, you must have an undergraduate degree to enroll in a graduate degree program. You must then earn an additional 30 credit hours. In order to remain in good academic standing, you must maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA. In addition, you can be placed on academic probation for earning anything less than a B minus in a course.
  • Certificates: Tulane actually offers three different types of certificates: Post-baccalaureate certificates, graduate certificates, and professional certificates. Post-baccalaureate certificates are like adding another major to the BA you already have. They require around thirty hours of coursework. Graduate certificates work the same way and require around 12-15 hours of coursework. Finally, professional certificates are designed to give you added credentials in the field you work in. Like graduate certificates, they require 12-15 hours.

Keep in mind that Tulane University works on a plus/ minus grade system. That is, every grade, A through D, can be given a plus or minus, and this plus or minus changes how much the grade is worth in figuring out your GPA. So, for instance, while an A is worth 4 points, an A minus is worth only 3.67 points.

Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy

If you receive financial aid to pursue your continuing education at Tulane, you'll also need to worry about the school's SAP, or Satisfactory Academic Progress, policy.

SAP is a government program, designed to make sure that no one can take advantage of the federal financial aid system. Basically, it's a check, conducted regularly, of whether or not you are actually using your scholarship, grant, and loan monies to pursue an education.

Every school sets its own SAP policy. Tulane University performs an SAP evaluation at the end of each semester—Fall, Spring, and Summer. Evaluations involve three standards:

  • Students must maintain a GPA in line with their class status: freshmen must have a 1.75 or better; sophomores must have a 1.85 or better; juniors and seniors must have a 2.0 or better; graduate students must have a 3.0 or better.
  • Students must complete at least two-thirds of the courses they attempt. In addition, students must earn more than 0 hours any semester when they attempt credits. In other words, you can't sign up for classes and then drop them all.
  • Students must complete their degree or certificate within 150 percent of the time specified for completion of the given program.

Students who fall below SAP requirements are placed in warning status the next semester. If they continue to fall below standards, their financial aid is suspended. You cannot be in warning status for two consecutive semesters.

You can, however, regain your financial aid once you again meet Tulane's SAP standards.

In addition, Tulane offers an appeals process that allows some students to obtain probationary status after a warning semester if they are still not meeting standards. All appeals are heard by the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals Committee of the Financial Aid Office and are based on any mitigating circumstances the student faced during the semester.

It can sometimes be difficult to hold on to financial aid under SAP programs. It is even more difficult to get aid back once you've lost it. If you're having trouble convincing Tulane to treat you fairly, you may need to contact an attorney-advisor. The right attorney-advisor can help you gather evidence and draft documents to make sure your financial support is safe.

Attendance Policies

The School of Professional Advancement has a strict attendance policy. In simple terms, “Students are expected to attend all classes, laboratories, seminars, and conferences.” Instructors may institute whatever penalties they choose for absences. Most faculty don't allow students to make up work they miss, and some will fail students who miss too often.

Tulane's policy does note that students may be excused from attendance for illness or other “exceptional circumstances.” However, it leaves decisions about what qualifies as “exceptional” up to individual instructors. That is, it's up to your professor to decide whether or not you should be excused should you need to stay home and take care of a sick child.

Academic Misconduct

All colleges and universities maintain strict honor codes and integrity policies to make sure that no one at the school has an unfair advantage in obtaining their degree or certification.

At Tulane, that policy is known as the Academic Code. It mentions fourteen separate types of violations. These include obvious misconduct, such as cheating and plagiarism. In addition, the Code prohibits the following:

  • Consulting with anyone on a take-home exam
  • Using any unauthorized electronic devices during quizzes or exams
  • Inventing information as part of an academic assignment
  • Unauthorized collaboration on coursework
  • Submitting the same work in multiple classes
  • Sabotaging another student's work
  • Any behavior that might give you an unfair advantage in a course
  • Facilitating academic misconduct
  • Tampering with academic records
  • Disclosing any confidential information regarding academic records

Faculty are required to report all suspected incidents of misconduct to the Chair of the SoPA Honor Board. If a student accepts the charges against them, the Chair assigns a penalty which can include a lowering of the student's grade, an official letter of reprimand, or a WF for the course. Repeat offenses can garner much stiffer penalties, including suspension and expulsion.

If the student refutes the charges, they may request to appear before a Hearing Panel to defend themselves.

Academics: What Could Go Wrong?

Students are often surprised by the idea that they might need an attorney to handle an academic matter. Often, we associate lawyers with criminal offenses, and getting an F on a term paper doesn't exactly qualify as criminal.

The fact is, an attorney who understands how colleges and universities operate can help students in lots of ways.

Maybe your TA wants to fail your assignment because you forgot to mention one of your sources on your works cited page. Maybe an administrator wants to deny you credit for a course because you missed a class. Maybe the school wants to revoke your degree because it's convinced you cheated on an exam. A skilled attorney can help you negotiate with faculty, draft appeals, and prepare for any hearing you might face. In some cases, they may even be able to accompany you to the proceedings. Whether you're accused of some complicated cheating scheme involving telescopes and text messaging, or you just feel like you deserve credit you've been denied toward a professional certificate, an attorney-advisor could be the one person with the knowledge and training to keep your academic career on track.

Disciplinary Misconduct

Tulane's expectations for you aren't confined to the classroom. As a student, you participate in the university's community. Like any community, a college campus must have rules to keep order and to make sure people treat each other and the school itself with respect.

SoPA students at Tulane University are subject to the same rules and regulations as any other students. A full list can be found in the school's Student Code of Conduct. As you might expect, this document is extensive, running to some 61 pages, with strictures on everything from smoking to misusing computer equipment. Some of these rules are more important than others, though.

  • Alcohol Possession and Consumption: Underage consumption and facilitating underage consumption are obviously forbidden. In addition, though, Tulane has strict policies on how and where legal adults can drink.
  • Dangerous Items: Use, possession, and even storage of weapons are all barred on campus.
  • Bias: Discrimination and harassment of any kind is discouraged, but when it involves a protected class—“race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, military status, veteran status, or any other status or classification protected by federal, state or local law”–it is considered an especially serious offense. Note that this applies to online forums as well and that it doesn't just apply to physical actions. Hate speech online or in person can get you suspended or even expelled from the university.
  • Drugs: Not only are students prohibited from using, possessing, or distributing illegal drugs on campus, but they're also forbidden to use or possess any “paraphernalia” associated with illegal drug use.

Finally, sexual misconduct is treated as its own special category of offense. Such misconduct is not just against school policy but against federal law. Title IX prohibits all forms of sexual discrimination and harassment on college and university campuses. In addition, it provides clear guidelines on how schools must go about investigating and adjudicating all allegations.

Disciplinary misconduct is always serious, but the minimum penalty in sexual misconduct cases is almost always suspension, and the more likely sanction is expulsion. Cases can be extremely complex. Simply put, you cannot afford to risk your future by representing yourself in such a case. You need an attorney who knows the law and who has experience helping students get justice.

Joseph D. Lento: Continuing Education Student Attorney-Advisor

Bottom line: things have changed enormously in education over the last several years. Whether it's been twenty years, ten years, or just five since you were in school, you'll find that things are very different now. Classes are online these days, and those that aren't still have a strong digital component. Cheating has become an epidemic, and faculty are very, very paranoid. Too many schools have found themselves featured on CNN, and they can be zealous—often too zealous—in prosecuting students for misconduct and punishing students they find guilty.

Meanwhile, you've changed as well. Your priorities are different than they were when you were eighteen. You've got a partner, kids, a mortgage, and a boss. Going to school this time is more about juggling your many responsibilities than maintaining focus on your studies.

Many of your instructors will be sympathetic to the particular kinds of stresses you are under, but not all. You'll take many of your courses with non-CE faculty, along with non-CE students, and they aren't always informed about how the CE program works. If you should come across an instructor who wants to fail you for putting a quotation mark in the right spot, or an administrator who wants to dismiss you from the program because you missed a class to complete a work project, it's good to have options. Joseph D. Lento gives you those options.

Joseph D. Lento specializes in helping students deal with school-based issues. He's represented hundreds of clients over the years, clients just like you, struggling with the demands of their schools. He knows the law as it applies to education, and he's practiced in dealing with faculty and administrators. Whatever problem you might be facing, from grading issues to accusations of sexual misconduct, Joseph D. Lento can make sure you're treated fairly and that you get the justice you deserve.

For more information, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.