Academic Support

"Work hard, play hard, in that order" - Dean McGlen

Niagara University provides many resources to assist students in achieving their personal, academic, and career goals. If you find yourself struggling, be sure to ask for help early on when more options may be available to you to help you get back on track. If you are not sure where to turn, stop by the A&S Dean's Office (Dunleavy 312, 716.286.8060) or contact:

Academic Support Services

Our office is a place where students can sit down and examine their academic options and strategies one on one.  We are knowledgable about advisement, registration, add/drop/withdrawal procedures, curriculum options, double majors, minors, summer courses, and other support services on campus. Please be sure to visit us if you are struggling and don't know where to turn or if we reach out to you to see how you are doing.  

The Office of Academic Support is another great resource on campus which can help answer many of your questions, provide support resources and offer academic guidance. 
  • Free Tutoring in many subjects
  • Free Writing Center help to plan and revise essays
  • Academic Support Programs
  • Academic Accommodations for students with documented disabilities
  • A variety of self-help resources
  • Preparatory courses (CRL & LSK)
  • English as a Second Language Instruction (ESL)

Academic Strategies

A variety of academic strategies exist to help students get back on track, whether that means reaching your personal academic goals, overcoming unexpected setbacks, or getting off of academic warning, probation, or dismissal status.
 
If you ever need help or wish to discuss your strategies and options, stop by the A&S Dean's Office in Dunleavy 312 or call 716.286.8060 to set up an appointment with either John Sauter (jps@niagara.edu) or Elizabeth Englert (eenglert@niagara.edu). 

Healthy academic progress means you are moving toward your degree and that your overall and major GPAs are not at risk of falling below a 2.0, which are graduation requirements (2.5 for Social Work/Nursing). Note that the Satisfactory Academic Progress Chart does not calculate major GPA.

4-year plan (Healthy / Satisfactory Academic Progress)

  • At least five courses (3+ credits each) or more per semester (some majors require additional courses or lab credits)
  • At least a 2.0 cumulative average (Social Work & Nursing require a 2.5)

5-year plan - Minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress (See Chart)

  • At least four courses (3+ credits each) per semester
  • At least a 2.0 cumulative average (2.5 for Social Work & Nursing)

Be careful and watch for some of these warning signs, as they could indicate trouble. If you are concerned with any of these issues, speak with your advisor or schedule an appointment in the Dean's Office to discuss your options. The earlier you seek help, the more options are available that may assist you.

  • Poor attendance - Missing classes can greatly affect your final grade. Be sure to check your syllabi for class attendance policies.
  • Struggling with coursework - Talk with your professor or the Academic Support Office in Seton Hall.
  • Midterm grade reports - Check your progress on myNU every semester.
  • Low major GPA - Struggling in your major for too long makes it difficult to bring up your GPA.
  • Low overall GPA - If it is close to or below a 2.0, you need to be very careful not to let it drop further.
  • Completing less than 4 or 5 classes a semester while attempting full-time standing.
    - 4 classes a semester is a 5-year plan, which coincides with the requirements for making satisfactory academic progress
    - 5 classes a semester is a 4-year plan
  • External factors - Outside influences can affect your GPA. Counseling Services or other support services can help.

The Satisfactory Academic Progress Chart was revised for fall 2011 and subsequent semesters. and includes two different categories. This process will be run at the end of the fall, spring, and summer semesters (for students taking summer courses).

Academic Alert: This is a category that is below satisfactory academic progress that indicates students who need to be cautious that they don't fall into the dismissal category.

Dismissal: This category is below Academic Alert. The first time a student falls in this category they will be put on Academic Warning automatically. A second or subsequent semester on dismissal status will require the student to write an appeal to the Academic Progress Commitee in order to try to remain at Niagara. Students who are appealed will be placed on Academic Probation.

1 ) Reflect on your academic progress so far and your future goals.

  • Did you receive a letter that you are not making satisfactory academic progress? Check to see how far behind you are in credits or/and GPA.
  • Do you want to just improve your GPA or get ahead on credits?

2 ) Review the strategies listed here and explore other support webpages

  • How to improve your GPA?
  • How to catch up on credits?
  • Can I use the F-to-R Policy (This is the fastest way to raise your GPA) 
  • Should I change my major? (Why struggle when you can excel elsewhere?)

3 ) Meet with the staff in the Dean's Office to review more specific strategies tailored to your situation.  Students on probation will be required to sign a contract in the Dean's Office.

       - John Sauter 716.286.8062, jps@niagara.edu
       - Elizabeth Englert 716.286.8036, eenglert@niagara.edu

4 ) Revise your schedule with your advisor if necessary.

  • Change your schedule to add F-to-Rs.
  • Avoid second semester sequences of courses you failed.
  • Explore alternative major courses. 


5 ) Seek out on-campus academic support services to help you get back on track (including the spring Academic Success Program for first year students). 

6 ) Stay organized and keep track of your progress.

  • Attend all your classes and turn your work in on time. (Your syllabi list your class attendance and late work policies. Don't lose points unnecessarily!)
  • Check in with faculty periodically to see how you are doing. 
  • Get help early if you need it and watch out for warning signs.
  • Check your midterm grades on myNU
  • Be aware of the Add/Drop Procedures/Deadlines 
  • Know that you can always stop in to the Dean's Office for assistance

First-Year Student Academic Success Program

  • This program is provided for first-year students below a 2.0 after their first semester. It is designed to assist students in understanding and changing the behaviors and skills that affected their first semester performance.
  • The program consists of a series of appointments with an academic support advisor, which are monitored by the Dean's office.
  • Participation and engagement in the program are taken into consideration by the Dean's Office at the end of the spring semester when academic progress is reviewed.

GPA
GPA (also called QPA) is a calculation of your total quality points divided by the total number of credits you have attempted (GPA = quality points / attempted credits). Improving your GPA requires that you increase your total quality points relative to your attempted hours.

AIM FOR HIGHER GRADES IN YOUR NU CLASSES
Each grade you receive at NU contributes to both your quality points and your attempted hours. Higher grades give you more points per hours attempted. An A will boost your GPA by increasing your quality points relative to your attempted hours, while a D will hurt your GPA because it is below a 2.0 in value.

CONSIDER RETAKING COURSES AT NU THAT YOU FAILED
The Repeat Course Policy can help your GPA by allowing you to remove attempted hours from your transcript, thus increasing the ratio used to calculate your GPA.

CALCULATING WHAT YOU WOULD NEED TO REACH YOUR GOAL
You can use the GPA calculators to determine what you would need to achieve in your current/future courses to reach a certain goal GPA, including any F-to-Rs you plan to take.

CONSIDER CHANGING YOUR MAJOR
If you are struggling in your major courses, consider changing your major. You may be able to achieve much higher grades in a different major discipline.

AVOID MISSING ANY CLASSES OR ASSIGNMENT DEADLINES
Check your syllabi for attendance policies. If you miss too many classes or miss deadlines for submitting work, your GPA can suffer and you might even fail the course.

WHAT IF I AM BEHIND IN CREDITS?
If you are behind in credits (under 12 credits per semester), you will find yourself making unsatisfactory academic progress even if you GPA is above a 2.0. This means it will take more than five years to complete your degree. If you are significantly behind and not making progress, you may still be dismissed based on credits.

HOW TO ESTIMATE WHAT YOU NEED TO GET BACK ON TRACK

  • Calculate your total amount of earned credits, available on myNU
  • Add up the number of semesters you have attempted a full-time course load.
    Each full-time semester (12 credits), including those with Ws
    Each full-time equivalent semester = 15 credits of part-time or transfer credit
  • To catch up to the Satisfactory Academic Progress (5-year Plan)
    (Approximate # of Credits Behind) = (# Semesters Attempted) X 12 - (# Total Earned Credits)
  • To catch up ta 4-year plan
    (Approximate # of Credits Behind) = (# Semesters Attempted) X 15 - (# Total Earned Credits)
  • This is deceptive if you have 4-credit courses, labs, or courses that don't count toward your degree requirements. Some majors require more than 120 hours.

STRATEGIES FOR CATCHING UP ON CREDITS

  • 15 credits/semester allows you to catch up on three credits toward the total that you need for satisfactory academic progress, but will not catch you up to the 4-year plan.
  • Summer courses at NU can catch you up on credits in between the semesters while taking courses that may improve your GPA.
  • Transfer courses elsewhere (e.g. winter/summer courses at another institution). 
  • Transfer courses do not affect your GPA.
  • Transfer courses cannot be used for the F-to-R policy
  • Transfer credits catch you up on credits.
  • Such courses must be preapproved using the transfer permission form. Some restrictions apply.
  • Part-time study may allow you to catch up on credits, while not adding another semester to the chart. Contact the Dean's Office as this is a bit complicated.
  • Overloading (taking more than 18 credits per semester) is not recommended for anyone below a 3.0 overall GPA and is discouraged for anyone struggling with GPA issues

The quickest way for a student to improve his/her GPA if he/she is struggling academically or making unsatisfactory academic progress, is to use Niagara’s Repeat Course Policy, which went into effect in May 2012.  This policy replaced Niagara’s previous repeat course policy referred to as the "F to R Policy."

Some details regarding the Repeat Course Policy are listed below.  However, to determine how best to utilize the Repeat Course Policy, a student should contact his/her Dean’s Office for assistance.  The Dean’s Office can provide assistance in calculating the impact of a repeated grade on a student’s cumulative GPA, major GPA, and hours earned. 


HOW TO UTILIZE THE REPEAT COURSE POLICY?

  • A student can use this policy to repeat a course taken at Niagara University that he/she has:
    a) failed and not received credit
    b) previously passed and earned credit

    In either case, under this policy, the student is limited to receiving credit for up to 6 repeated courses in the calculation of his/her cumulative GPA.  The grade received for the second attempt of the course – for up to 6 courses – will be calculated in the student’s cumulative GPA regardless of whether the grade is better or worse than the original grade earned.  A student who repeats a course must do his/her very best to ensure that he/she does well the second time a course is taken.
  • A student may repeat any course taken at Niagara University, including courses which the student completed before the new Repeat Course Policy became effective (May, 2012). 
  • The repeated course must be repeated at Niagara University. The repeated course must be the same course as the one taken the first time even if it is a Special Topics course.
  • The grade change can only be processed (calculated in the student’s cumulative GPA) after the course has been completed a second time. 
  • If a student, under the new Repeat Course Policy, repeats a course whether passed or failed, the previous grade will be marked “retaken” on the student’s transcript.
  • Each repeat will count as one of the 6 attempts.  For example, if a student, under the new Repeat Course Policy, repeats a course in which he/she currently has two or more grades of F (or two or more passing grades), the previous grades will be marked “retaken” on the student’s transcript and each repeat will count as one of the 6 attempts. 
  • A student may repeat more than 6 courses; however, only in six cases can the grade of the original attempt be excluded from calculation in the cumulative GPA.
  • If a student has already taken a course two times and wishes to retake it a third time, he/she must first meet with the dean of his/her college to discuss this option.  If the dean agrees to the registration, the dean’s office will notify the Student Records and Financial Services office in writing. 
  • If a student wishes to repeat a course for which he/she has already passed and received credit, the student must consult with Financial Aid to discuss possible financial aid implications.  In most cases, a course for which a student has already received credit cannot be used to satisfy full time status requirements.  In most cases, a student must be enrolled in twelve or more “new” credit attempts in order to receive funding for the repeat of a course for which he/she has already received credit.
  • A student who is on academic alert, warning, or probation for a deficiency in CREDIT HOURS must see his/her dean’s office before registering for a course for which he/she has already received credit.

USE THE GPA CALCULATORS TO ESTIMATE THE BENEFIT OF AN F TO R

  • Obtain the latest copy of your transcript on WebAdvisor.
  • Follow the directions on the Overall GPA Calculator using the optional Course Repeat columns to see how repeating a course can help the student to reach his/her goal GPA.

EXAMPLE - Based on 30 credits (2 As, 2 Bs, 2Cs, 2Ds, 2 Fs)
If you retook the and passed the Fs next semester, your starting GPA before your new grades are factored in would be:

  • 2.0 without retaking any Fs
  • 2.22 after retaking one F
  • 2.5 after retaking two Fs

It is normal for students to change their major after exploring new fields and interests not previously encountered. Remember not to limit yourself to one major, particularly when there might be alternative paths to certain careers.

You should change your major if:

  • You have struggled in your major courses (e.g. multiple courses below a C). Remaining in a major for too long can affect your ability to make satisfactory academic progress and complicate your ability to graduate or remain at NU.
  • You no longer have an interest in the major. Selecting a major with courses that you are interested in can make it easier to raise your overall GPA

Ways to explore a new major:

  • Career Services has a variety of software and links to explore your interests.
  • Academic Exploration has helpful links to information about choosing majors.
  • Arts and Sciences programs include departmental and major specific information.
  • Advisors and other faculty members can help you examine your interests.
  • Dean's Office staff can help work up your credits in the new major's curriculum card so that you can see what requirements you would still need to fulfill.

Logistics of changing your major

  • Major Change/Transfer within NU form - To switch majors within a college or to switch majors between colleges. This generally requires a 2.0 GPA or higher (Education and Social Work require a 2.5)
  • If your GPA is too low to get where you are headed, consider temporarily enrolling in General Studies to work toward your goal. The advisor for General Studies is also the assistant to the dean for academic affairs and can assist you in developing strategies for improving your GPA.

GPA / QPA Calculators

Use the calculator to figure out what GPA you need to earn to reach your goals.  It is a good way to see how much repeating a course under the course repeat policy can help you.  Note that the gpa calculator does not currently factor in grades other than an F, which is allowed under the new policy.