Every student admitted to the University of Texas at Austin has the opportunity to succeed academically, and nearly every student accepts admission to the university with the full intention of succeeding. However, some students find it difficult to maintain good academic standing for a variety of reason—academic, personal or perhaps a combination of both.
Whether you are a family member or friend of a struggling student, we believe you play an important role in helping this person gain perspective and discover ways to succeed. We encourage you to learn more about this individual's circumstances, which at this point may well involve contending with academic probation or dismissal. It is vital that you be understanding and supportive, while encouraging the student to perform at their full potential.
The initial impulse of many parents or guardians is to contact the university. While advisors and other staff may discuss general policies in such instances, please be mindful that the university can only provide information about a student's academic or disciplinary record if they have given the university written permission as stated in The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99). FERPA is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
While FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records, these rights transfer to the student when the student reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond high school. You can learn more about FERPA at the U.S. Department of Education or by writing to Family Policy Compliance Office, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-5920.
As a parent, the university recognizes that at times you may feel out of the loop in regard to your student’s education. While it may be difficult to let your student assume full responsibility for their academics, you can be supportive by providing enough assistance to make sure your student gets the job done on their own – ask your student what he/she has done to address the issue(s) which have contributed negatively toward their academic performance.
Many times, you, as a parent, are the last to know when your student is struggling academically. For a number of reasons, students are hesitant to share that they are having academic struggles with their parents. The key to finding out as soon as possible if your student is in academic trouble is by having open, honest communication with your student.
It is extremely important that students on scholastic warning, scholastic probation, and scholastic dismissal meet with their academic advisor on a regular basis. Encourage your student to seek academic advising from a university staff advisor.
As a parent of a student on scholastic probation, or a student who has been placed on scholastic dismissal, you play a valuable role in helping your student decide if they are in a place where they can academically recover and be successful.
In some cases, it is in the student’s best interest to take some time off from school or consider enrolling at a community college. Many students and their families feel that continued enrollment is the best and ONLY way of improving their academic performance. In fact, many times it is not beneficial to the student. It is important to discuss with your student realistic options for improving their academic record at the University of Texas at Austin.
Illinois State University, Office of Enrollment Management and Academic Services. (2008). Information for Parents and Family Members. Retrieved June 24, 2008, from http://www.emas.ilstu.edu/probation/family.shtml