Most Lawrence students do fine most of the time. Nevertheless, on occasion some students find themselves out of sync not only with the expectations of their instructors but also with their own expectations of themselves. Attendance may trail off, coursework may be avoided, and assignments may be turned in late or not at all. Despite students’ best efforts, pressures and anxieties build, course performance suffers, and it becomes hard to see a pathway to academic success. At these times, it is essential that students recognize what is expected of them and how to take the steps needed to put themselves back on track.
Through institutional resources and the efforts of its faculty, Lawrence strives to assist students who find themselves in academic difficulty. Mudd Library, the Center for Academic Success, and Health and Counseling Services are among the most prominent resources that Lawrence offers to help students succeed. Likewise, faculty members seek to foster academic success among their students not only in the classroom but also during office hours, at study or review sessions, and through online tools and resources.
When a misunderstanding or discrepancy emerges between what faculty members and students expect from each other, this gap can adversely affect the learning that takes place in the classroom, laboratory, or studio. The notes that follow seek to reduce this sort of gap by making expectations clear.
Communication. Regular communication with faculty, administrators, and staff may be the single most important element in student success at Lawrence. Students are urged to communicate with instructors right away if they are experiencing academic difficulty and to seek help from the many resources made available by the university.
Engagement and respect. Students should see it as their responsibility to engage fully in all class activities and to demonstrate respect for fellow students, instructors, and course materials. Respect is demonstrated by encouraging and supporting others and never demeaning or degrading fellow Lawrentians; by adhering to the honor code and university rules and regulations; and by caring for our facilities, grounds, and equipment. Students can expect instructors, administrators, and staff to treat them with respect at all times, especially with regard to issues of race or ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. Furthermore, they can expect their instructors to hold them to clear and consistent academic standards and to assess their work in a fair and timely manner with an indication of how it might be improved.
Attendance. Although different instructors spell out attendance requirements for their courses in different ways, students should consider it their responsibility to attend all class sessions and lessons and to be on time and well prepared. Missing class or arriving late can result in unexcused absences or a lowered grade for class participation. If students must miss class or arrive late, they should make every effort to inform their instructors beforehand. Faculty can be very understanding of student difficulties, and unforeseen conflicts, unexpected crises, and even the rare case of forgetfulness may be excused in light of normally good attendance and class preparation.
Deadlines. Students should consider it their responsibility to turn in all assigned work by the specified deadlines and to abide by the policies for assignments established by each individual instructor. When it is impossible for students to meet their deadlines, prompt and direct communication with the instructor, or with a staff member or administrator when communication with the instructor is not possible, is crucially important. Likewise, students can expect that instructors will clearly announce all deadlines and policies for assignments, including penalties for late or missing work.
Academic, extracurricular, and professional conflicts. Students should request permission in advance to miss class for academic, extracurricular, or professional activities that conflict with regular classes or lessons. While they may be sympathetic to such conflicts, instructors are under no obligation to grant permission and may do so at their own discretion. Instructors who schedule curricular activities (such as field trips, rehearsals, conferences, or competitions) outside of regular class time should remind students to request permission to miss any regularly scheduled classes or lessons that might conflict with those activities.
Illness or Injury. Students who miss class for illness or injury should contact their instructors for guidance in making up missed work. If they miss more than two consecutive class sessions or a major assignment or examination, they should see a nurse, doctor, or counselor for a medical excuse (with permission, Health and Counseling Services can e-mail notice to the instructors). If a student misses the equivalent of two weeks of classes or a similar number of assignments, then the student and the instructor should meet with the Dean of Academic Success to discuss whether the student will be able to complete the course or, especially late in the term, needs to withdraw or arrange for an incomplete.
Students with known health conditions that could affect their course work should meet with their instructors at the start of term to plan how to deal with problems that might arise. They should notify instructors in advance if they will be absent for medical testing or treatment and should alert instructors right away if they are too ill to come to class or to complete an assignment. If students are unable to meet their course requirements, they should contact the Dean of Academic Success to arrange a withdrawal or incomplete.
Personal crisis. Personal crises, such as accidents, trauma, or family emergencies, are handled with empathy by staff and faculty. Adjustments to course requirements or deadlines are granted at the discretion of instructors in consultation with appropriate staff or administrators. Communication on the part of students is paramount. Unless they alert their instructors, or a staff member from Health and Counseling Services, Student Affairs, or the Center for Academic Success, students can expect no adjustments in requirements. Faculty and staff are committed to serving students in moments of crisis, but they can act only on the basis of what they know.
If difficulties arise. Faculty expect students to be fully engaged in the classes for which they are registered: to attend regularly, to be well prepared, to participate in discussion, to complete assignments, and to communicate with instructors as outlined above. Students who are not meeting these expectations will be referred to the Center for Academic Success for help.
In those rare cases where a student who has not been attending classes also does not respond to requests from the Center for Academic Success, the student may be withdrawn from the term and placed on administrative leave. The university reserves the right to determine when an administrative withdrawal is appropriate and what conditions must be met before the student is allowed to return. Academic implications (credit and grades) and financial implications (tuition, fees, and financial aid) will vary depending on the circumstances.
In general, students are strongly urged to seek help from the Center as soon as difficulties arise so they can stay on track for academic success. That is why the Center exists, and it is in the interest of everyone to put these resources to their best use.