Professors can now submit unsatisfactory grades, also known as U grades, as early as the third week of class to prevent students from digging themselves into an unrecoverable academic hole.
U grades are a “report of unsatisfactory academic performance in a class” according to an email sent to TCU faculty and staff from Provost Nowell Donovan.
“It’s just simply a notification from a professor to the registrar that this particular student is not making satisfactory progress,” Donovan said. “Now that could mean they’ve flunked an exam badly or something like that, or it could mean they’re not coming to class, it could be a combination of things.”
The new policy went into affect last week. Previously, U grades were submitted halfway into the semester, Donovan said. He said he felt this was often too late.
“Several of us have always thought we couldn’t get in contact early enough,” Donovan said. “If someone is losing contact in the first three weeks, that’s likely serious because your grade could be cast before you get a chance to turn it around.”
TCU Registrar Patrick Miller said U grades alert staff to students who need help.
“What we do is to sweep through the U grade roster every week,” Miller said. “We’ll send students and their advisors an email telling them that they’ve got a U grade and advising them that this is a serious matter, and that they need to get themselves in gear.”
Miller said that the first sweep took place Monday, and 44 students were notified. Miller said students with multiple U grades are looked into with more detail.
“We look for students who have two or more U grades, and those students we notify Campus Life,” Miller said. “If they’re having trouble in several classes, there are adjustment issues. Campus Life notifies their hall director and resident assistant, and they council them, and Campus Life tries to get them to come in.”
Advisors and professors are on board with the new policy, Miller said.
“We’ve gotten a really good response from faculty,” Miller said. “They’ve been really pleased with the concept.”