What to do when things go wrong

Now that final grades for the spring semester are in, I’m hearing from students who have found themselves in a difficult position. As you know, you must earn a C- or better to complete courses that fulfill distribution requirements or major requirements. Earning a D is not the end of the world. (I survived, though not without shedding some tears.) You will still earn credit hours that count toward the total of 124 that you need for the BA in Psychology, but they will only be counted as university elective credits (they are listed at the end of your DAR). If you’re sticking with the Psychology Major, you’ll still need to complete the requirement.

So what should you do? If you have earned a D in a major requirement, you have 3 main options for how to move forward: 

1) You can complete the requirement by taking one of the other courses in the same category (e.g., Sensation & Perception instead of Behavioral Neuroscience or History of Psych instead of Learning). This way you get a fresh start with a different subject, but the D from your previous class remains on your transcript and in your GPA.

2) You can repeat the same course.  It doesn’t have to be taken with the same instructor, but it does need to be the same course number (e.g., only 159 can be used for a potential replacement of a D in 159).  For up to 2 courses during your time at Hofstra, you can complete a “Repeat Course Request Form” (http://www.hofstra.edu/pdf/StudentAffairs/StudentServices/acdrec/acadrec_repeat.pdf), which enables you to count only the second grade in your GPA, although the original D will also appear on your transcript. Keep in mind that you won’t earn double credits–a course repeat means that you’re not adding new credits, you’re simply replacing the 3 original credits with a different grade.  This option means spending more time in the same class, and it may affect your status as a full-time student for financial aid purposes, but it is the best for minimizing the damage to the students’ GPA.

3) Complete a “Waiver and Substitution Request” while meeting with Dr. Novak or Dr. Cox. With the D-waiver request, students are asking to receive credit for completing a requirement, even though they failed to attain the minimum standard of a C-. Approval is by no means guaranteed and no student or instructor should assume that a request will be granted.  If it is granted, the D stays on the transcript and remains in GPA calculations, but the student is allowed to move forward as though he or she successfully completed the requirement. If you’re interested in this option, start by contacting Dr. Novak (sarah . novak @ hofstra . edu). DO NOT COMPLETE THE FORM OR SEND IT TO THE REGISTRAR! [The registrar will send me angry messages, assuming that it’s MY fault when students don’t read the directions or talk to a human being before acting.]

There are pros and cons to each of these options. Obviously there’s no magical fix when you’ve earned a D in a major course, but I hope that understanding your options will help make a difficult situation better.  As you move forward, please take advantage of resources like faculty office hours, university advisement, and the tutoring program.


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