Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wishing for a crystal ball and instant answers

Grades have come out.  The probation and academic dismissal lists have been drawn up now.  There are some surprises.  And some not.  Now begins the process of talking with students who will be petitioning.

Of course, the students want to know "yes" or "no" as to whether their petitions will be approved.  It is not that easy, however.  Each petition is decided case by case on its unique circumstances and merits.  There is not a formula that calculates whether a petition will get approved or be denied.  There is no crystal ball. 

And there is the waiting time.  Decisions on petitions for readmission to continue with one's own class do not take too long because a committee reviews the petitions.  Petitions for re-entry to start over again as a 1L are the problem.  With summer, it is the task of getting a faculty quorum to meet on these petitions (also on appeals of the readmission committee).

Depending on the student's circumstances, the petition itself might get delayed.  For example, a student may need time for testing for previously undiagnosed learning disabilities/ADHD and following up with the process for accommodations.  That information may be critical to the petition's chances of success.  Delay on being able to petition means delay in an answer, especially if it is a re-entry petition and the process goes beyond the scheduled June faculty votes for re-entry.

In talking with students, I try to help them realistically assess the strengths and weaknesses of their petitions.  We also talk about their options within the process.  And I often talk with them about back-up plans if their petition is not approved.  Although most of them would rather avoid the latter discussion, I find that if their petitions do not get approved, they are better able to handle that decision if they have already thought about their alternative plans.  Often they will apply to another graduate program here or closer to home. 

How can I help the most as an ASP'er during the process? 

  • By answering questions and explaining procedures. 
  • By listening to concerns and reading between the lines. 
  • By being available for appointments and phone calls. 
  • By giving an honest assessment of the pros and cons of each case.
  • By making appropriate referrals. 
  • By being someone they can talk to about their fears, concerns, and anxiety. 
  • By reminding them, should things go awry with the petition, that law school is not the only path in life and they are still talented individuals.

I cannot make things instantly right for the students.  But I can make things less lonely for them during the process.  (Amy Jarmon)

     

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