For those of you who are not familiar with the term ac pro, it is a simple and less intimidating way of saying academic probation. I became very familiar with this term and the steps associated with it over the past semester. This may come as a shock to many of you, but I spent last semester on academic probation. After finding out, I chose to tell only those extremely close to me and those people who would keep me accountable for my grades. By Hopkins standards, a student gets placed on academic probation when they drop below the credit limit or below a 2.0 GPA, and my poor performance in a course put me below the credit limit. Not to spoil the ending, but now that I am off of probation, I want to share my experience during one of the most stressful and rewarding semesters of my time at Hopkins.

Stage 1: Finding out

During my freshman spring semester, I found myself becoming lazy and just not attending class as often as I should have or could have. At the time, it always seemed like the right choice to “sleep in so I can study tonight” or to “read over the slides later”. Although, in retrospect, it was not enough. I was also over involved in groups on campus, groups that did help to make many friends, but frankly groups that did not wake me up at 9 a.m. for class and keep me up to study at 2 a.m.  There are so many valuable reasons to go to class and I just chose to ignore them, thus landing myself on academic probation. I received the email making it official over the summer and that was when it finally hit me that I had screwed up, and more so, that I had no one to blame but myself.

Stage 2: Freaking out

Once the email was opened, there was no turning back. This was real. This happened. I did this. I immediately knew that I had to tell my parents and my closest friends, but as a bit of a surprise to me, I received nothing but support from those closest to me. I truly believe that it was due to the fact that I was already beating myself up for the mistakes I had made. I also had to inform many of the group leaders that I am involved with that I would have to take a step back for the semester, but it truly reinsured me that I had the support of so many friends and colleagues.  After breaking the news to everyone, I emailed my advisers about a thousand times in one day. My adviser, Dr. Sindt. began to tell me how academic probation was not meant to be punitive but more of a way of getting back on track, and that was exactly my attitude for the next semester.

Step 3: Figuring it out

Now I know it is real. Now I know that I have to step up my game. Luckily, the academic advising office set me up with literally everything I could possibly need to have a successful semester. I was assigned a study consultant, a study adviser, and had to meet with my adviser as often as possible. Although these did seem like punitive measures originally, I learned to realize that this is what I should have been doing all along. I came to the realization that there are so many amazing resources that Hopkins offers to us, but now I just had to seek them out. One main resource that I had neglected during my time at Hopkins was the library. I honestly spent more time in the library during my first week on academic probation than I had during my entire first year at Hopkins.

Step 4: Seeking it out

Now that my advisers, among many others, have laid out the path to success for me, it was now my turn to take their help and seek out help along the way. This included finding people to hold me accountable to attending classes, finding study partners and tutors, and mostly, asking my professors for help. There were so many times last semester that I was frankly scared to ask anything of my professors, but that quickly changed this semester. I began going to office hours, asking for meetings, and staying after class, especially once I realized that professors are people too. As silly as it may seem, I was finally able to go to professors and ask how their day was going, or about a concept in class that I did not understand, or about how I should study for the upcoming exam. These meetings with professors quickly became the most important step on my path to getting off of ac pro.

Step 5: Finishing it out

Not only did I get off of ac pro, I finished the semester with satisfactory scores and with the highest GPA I have gotten in a semester yet at Hopkins. This was no small feat for me, and certainly not something I did on my own. It was the most rewarding semester for me and the most challenging thing I have ever been through.  I am so thankful for my family, friends, and Hopkins staff for helping me to realize my full potential. I am thankful for everyone who studied with me at ungodly hours. I am thankful for everyone (especially my mom) who held me accountable for going to class and paying attention in class. During this past semester, I have found new interests, new resources, and a new love for the campus that I call home. As crazy as it may seem, I am proud to report that Hopkins does not want you to fail, that you will make it through academic probation, and that you are smart enough to be at Hopkins.