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Q:          My student's mid-term grades were not where he/she would like them to be.  What are some resources available for him/her to improve upon those grades?

Mid-term grades are designed to be a “wake-up call” for students who are doing poorly, especially for first-year students who are not accustomed to doing college work.   For the most part, it is possible to raise a grade between mid-terms and finals. Depending on the number of low grades, however, it might be challenging to raise them all.   Nevertheless, if a student has been attending all of his/her classes on a regular basis, it is likely that his professors will work with him/her as much as possible. 


Here are some resources to suggest to your student:


  • Visit the Academic Support Center in the Learning Commons located in the basement of the library.  They can assist with study skills, time management, adjustment to college, etc.
  • Sign up for a tutor. (Also in the Academic Support Center or students can do so on-line as well  The ASC also has drop-in clinics for writing and math. Drop-in hours are listed on their web site.
  • Talk to someone at the Counseling Center about adjusting to college; it’s free of charge and may help your student get back on the right track.
  • Talk to his/her advisor about his specific grades and how to improve upon them.
  • Contact the Student Success Team at for assistance as well.


If the student's grades are not improving, the following are some options:

  • Withdraw from one or more classed, keeping in mind that full-time status is usually defined as 12 credits.  Some students will need to stay full time for certain eligibility issues (financial aid, health insurance, athletic participation).  A student needs to carry 9 credits to live on-campus.  The deadline to withdraw from a class is generally soon after midterm grades are available (students get the withdrawal form from their advisors), but the sooner the better so that they can then focus on their remaining classes.  There are also a number of signatures to collect so they do not want to wait until the last minute (or even day!). Withdrawing from a class can impact financial aid eligibility so students should make sure they fully discuss this option with their advisor, the Office of Financial Aid or the Advising Assistance Center.
  • If students are doing very poorly (Ds and Fs in all classes), a complete semester withdrawal is an option up until the last day of classes. Clearly, however, this is not the best option as the student loses all credit for the semester and may not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress for financial aid eligibility. The transcript will reflect a semester of Ws.  Students who withdraw from the semester can come back to Shepherd without having to re-apply as long as they are out less than three semesters.
  • If students are in their first 60 credit hours, they can stay enrolled in all their courses with the knowledge that they can repeat any course in which they get a D or F for grade improvement.  The old grades stay on the transcript (with a notation that the classes were repeated), but the new grades are the only ones that go into their GPA.

Q:          I have seen my student’s transcript.  What is the difference between an F, IF, I/F, I, and W?

A W indicates the student withdrew from the course after the add-drop period.  There is no grade penalty, but the W remains on the transcript to indicate that the course was attempted.

An I indicates the student did not complete all the coursework but filed the appropriate paperwork with the instructor to complete the coursework by a later date.  This date is indicated on the incomplete form and is generally sometime before the middle of the subsequent semester.  The I is not counted in the GPA until it is converted to a grade after all coursework has been submitted.

Fs , IFs  and I/Fs are all failing grades; however, an IF indicates the student failed due to irregular withdraw (usually meaning lack of attendance) and an I/F indicates an incomplete (I) that was converted to an F based on failure to complete the coursework satisfactorily or by stated deadline.   Fs, IFs, and I/Fs are all counted in the GPA and calculated as “O” point values.

Q:          My student needs to contact his/her professors.  How does he/she do that?

Most contact information, office hours, etc., are listed on the course syllabus.  The syllabus is one of the most important documents students receive and they should refer it often.


From the Shepherd University home page, students can click on “People.”

e-mail, phone, and office information are listed. 


In addition, many faculty have web pages which can be accessed through the Undergraduate Studies link on the home page.

Often their office hours are listed on their home pages.


E-mail is generally the best method to reach faculty outside of class; students can ask via e-mail when would be a good time to meet in person.


Adjunct faculty are often more difficult to reach than full-time faculty as many have other jobs that keep them from being on-campus, on a regular basis, outside of class times.  However, adjunct faculty should also be able to meet with students on an as needed basis.  Sometimes adjunct faculty list alternative contact information (home phones, e-mails) on their course syllabi.  Students should always check the course syllabus for this type of information.


Q.          My student feels as if one/more of his/her professors is not being responsive.  What can  he/she do?


If the student has tried to contact the professor via e-mail AND phone and has not heard back within 24-48 hours, it is best to try again and/or attempt to contact the professor immediately before or after class.  If the problem persists, the student can visit the Chair of the department or, if the professor is the chair, the Dean of the faculty member’s school.  Contact info for chairs and deans can be found on or


Q.          My student says he/she has never met/does not know how to contact his/her advisor and/or does not know who his/her advisor is?


On the Shepherd University home page, there is a link for “Who is my advisor”


This will take students to a set of instructions for logging on to RAIL and finding out the name of their advisor(s).  Students will need their ID and PIN to get this information.


All new students meet with a faculty member in their major department during their Advising and Registration session.  After that, the chair of the department assigns advisors to all majors.  Students should meet with their advisors at least once a semester to choose their classes for the following term.


Students who have not yet declared a major (undecided students) meet with a designated undecided student advisor to choose their classes each semester until they declare a major.  These advisors are also in place to assist students in declaring a major.  Undecided majors must declare a major by the end of their third semester at Shepherd or before they complete 30 credit hours, whichever comes first. 


Q:          How does my student declare/change his/her major/advisor?


If a student wishes to change/declare a major, he/she should go the Registrar’s Office to pick up the form and collect the necessary signatures. To request an advisor change, he/she should contact the chair of the department or the dean of the school if the advisor is the chairs.


Other answers to important registration questions can be found at


Q:          I think my student must be close to graduation by now, but he/she says he/she does not know what else he/she needs to do/take to graduate.


Students can speak with their advisors and visit the Advising Assistance Center to review their progress towards graduation. 


In addition, there is a degree evaluation program on RAIL that allows students to see what courses they have taken, how those courses are counted (Core Curriculum requirements, majors/minors, etc.) and what else still needs to be taken.  Again, students need their PINS and ID numbers to access this site.


Note that this program also has a “what if” function that allows students to view their progress if they were to change or add a major/minor/concentration, etc.


Deadlines to file for graduation are posted outside the Registrar’s Office and at


Q:          My student lives on campus and is having problems with his/her roommates/hallmates.  What should he/she do?


The fist step would be to approach the people with whom he/she is having the issues and attempt to work it out together.  If that does not work, the Residence Hall Staff (Resident Assistants (RA), Hall Directors (HDs) and Area Coordinators (ACs)) can be of assistance.   RAs live on the floors/halls with students and their contact information is posted in building common areas.   HDs and ACs can be reached as follows:


Q:          My student has a disability and in struggling in his/her classes.  Are there any special services you provide?

If the disability is documented, your student should bring his/her documentation to the Disability Support Services office.


The office will assist your student with getting any accommodation to which he or she is entitled.  All information is kept strictly confidential and it will be up to your student to contact his/her professors to request the accommodations.


Often students who have used accommodations in high school decide that they no longer need this “extra help” when they are in college.  While this is sometimes the case, other students struggle without the benefit of those accommodations, especially n the first year, and do not realize this until it is too late for them academically.  We encourage all students to get “approved” for the accommodations ahead of time.   They then can choose to disclose or not disclose that information to their instructors as they feel comfortable or as is needed.


Q:          My student just does not seem happy/tells me that he or she doesn’t like Shepherd.


Your student may be having trouble adjusting to college in general (if he or she is first year student), going through the sophomore slump or getting nervous about internships and graduation as juniors and seniors.  For more information see:



The Counseling Center, Residence Hall Staff, his/her advisor and/or the Retention Office can help with tips, etc., to overcome some of these typical college student problems.   If you are worried about your student, you can contact any of those offices for assistance.

              Counseling Center          304-876-5376  

              Residence Life                304-876-5172

              Retention Office              304-876-5482

Keep in mind, that confidentiality guideline and or federal law (FERPA), may preclude some offices from sharing all information, but each should be able to assist you as best as possible.


It is also important to realize that sometimes students need a break and that not all students are ready for college as teenagers/young adults.  If you feel your student may need to take some time off, contact the Student Success Team at and we can assist you and your student as you make this decision. It is better to make that decision earlier, before time and money are wasted, and before the GPA potentially takes a beating.


Q.          What is FERPA and how does it affect me and my student?


FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  This federal legislation regulates what information about students can be shared with someone other than the students themselves.  Detailed information can be found at or  You may also have heard it referred to as the “Buckley Amendment.”


Essentially, FERPA means that most students’ information is considered confidential (if the student is 18 or over) regardless of whether or not that student is considered a dependent or who pays that bills.   In many cases, however, information can be shared if the student signs a release.   Shepherd University encourages parents to develop open relationships with their students about grades, etc., and encourages students to share information directly their parents rather that use the University as an intermediary:  however, specific offices can step in to assist as appropriate.


Q:          My student needs to request and exception/extension to a certain academic policy.  What can s/he do?


Students can petition for exceptions to policies, retroactive extensions to University deadlines, etc., by submitting a petition form to the Admissions and Credits Committee.   The form is now available onand can be completed on-line.


In most situations, students will need to collect different signatures.  If this is the case, the student will need to print out the completed form, collect the signatures, and turn the form in to the Registrar’s Office.


While it is not possible to state the likelihood of any particular petition getting approved, most anything can be petitioned for, and in general, it cannot hurt a student to try.

The Student Success Team at can also help students with the petitioning process.


Shepherd University | P.O. Box 5000 | Shepherdstown, WV | 25443-5000 | 304-876-5000 | 800-344-5231 | FAX 304-876-3101