Skip to main content

From suspension to success: How I failed my first year

September 28, 2020

In the spring of 2018, I was officially suspended from Ontario Tech University. After numerous emails and attempts to make contact from Academic Advising, I chose not to make any changes between the first and second semester of my first year which resulted in my academic standing shifting from Academic Probation to Suspension. 

What does that mean?

Probation is when a student’s grade falls below a 2.0 GPA, whereas suspension is when the student fails to reach that 2.0 average two semesters in a row. At the point of my suspension, I was at a 0.8 GPA. Learn more about academic standing.

I, like many other students, didn’t know where to go from there and felt a sense of failure. I foolishly decided to enroll in the Durham College (DC) summer program to be readmitted into the university for the fall of 2018. However, I had quickly realized that it wasn’t for me - I had lost my passion for learning. During my short time at DC, I had one professor who assigned a reading to the class about motivations for post-secondary education. The study concluded that students who enter post-secondary with a goal rather than going because it is the logical “next step” have significantly higher GPAs. From there, I decided to drop out of the program and take a year off to work. 

Tips from students who have gone through probation or suspension

I asked other students who had also gone through probation or suspension for advice they’d like to share, and here’s what they had to say:

Recognizing that failure is a part of life

Your degree DOES NOT say how long it took you to get it. A common phrase among students is, “C’s get degrees”. I do not promote aiming for C’s, but recognize that a C here or there will not make or break your academic career. There are TOUGH courses at the university level (ever take statistics?) where learning the basics is more important than whatever the grade outcome is. 

Why Ontario Tech? Why university? Why the major you are in?

These questions are important when trying to find your driving factor. One student I spoke to, talked about why they decided to change over from engineering into communications. It was a drastic change to move between these two majors, but they said that they were pushed to believe that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects were better and that subjects such as communication were considered “easy.” The change DRAMATICALLY changed their life for the better. Many students, with the help of Academic Advisors, switch majors, or switch to college! Post-secondary education is not linear, there will be ups and downs. 

Pick courses YOU are passionate about! 

When it came to that first semester back at the university, I had made a list of my strengths and weaknesses, trying to pick courses within my program map that inspired me to want to learn more. Some courses that drove me to learn were: Intro to Entrepreneurship, Mobilizing for Change, Digital Media Policy, and Gender, Sex, and (In)Justice.

Find ways to stay on campus more.

For one student, again with the help of their academic advisor, they were able to access academic supports such as Chemistry tutoring to help them with relearning the basics to be prepared for when they re-entered university. They found that having this year of tutoring and studying better prepared them for their first semester back. For myself, after being readmitted, I signed up for workshops and guest lectures to put a practical perspective on the things I am learning in the classroom! #StickyCampus 

Remembering EVERYONE wants to see you succeed!

A great resource to look at is MySuccess Plan brought to you by the Student Success Initiative. In there it outlines different resources to help you if you are on probation, suspension, or just struggling. Everyone from Academic Advising to Student Life wants you to reach out when you are having a hard time making it through the semester. The first semester I was back, I had just finished my Stats exam and without thinking I went straight to Academic Advising in tears because I thought I failed my exam! My advisor went through the numbers with me and really helped me calm down. A severely unused resource on campus is YOUR PROFESSORS! These people know the ins and outs of university since they already went through it. Send your prof a quick email about what you are struggling with, or even ask to see them during their office hours. Trust me, they want to see you during office hours! 

The most important thing to remember if you are going through probation or suspension is that you are not alone. Many different students across OntarioTech or other institutions have gone through exactly what you are going through, myself included! This does NOT define you, your response to this challenge does. 

For more information or support, check out the Student Success Initiative