Academic Difficulty

Avoiding Academic Difficulty

The best way to avoid academic difficulty is to address your academic concerns before they become problems.  If you have concerns about your academic success at UCSB, meet with a College of Letters and Science advisor and/or with your major department advisor. 

What do I do if I’m struggling academically?

Take a breath—academic challenges are a natural part of the university experience. When they arise, here's a few tips to help you steer through your academic journey and maximize your time at UCSB:

Early Action is Key: Address academic concerns before they become bigger problems. Be proactive!

Reach Out to Instructors: Instructors are here to help you grow and learn! Consider attending office hours to clarify doubts with your instructors and teaching assistants (TAs).

Seek Advice: If you face problems during the quarter, meet with our friendly College of Letters and Science Advisors in 1117 Cheadle Hall and/or with your Major department Advisor to discuss your options. You may also visit the Transfer Student Center in the UCSB Library or ONDAS in 1150 Kerr Hall for additional advising. Take advantage of available resources!

Access Special Support: Students have access to many FREE resources listed here:

  • CLAS: Campus Learning Assistance Services is UCSB's tutoring service for all UCSB students.
  • DSP: If you have a disability, work with Disabled Students Program to arrange necessary accommodations.
  • CAPS: If you’re struggling with the emotional ups and downs of life, you may need to reach out to Counseling and Psychological Services.
  • CARE: Campus Advocacy Resources and Education has a 24/7 Confidential phone line (805-893-4613) for students who have experienced sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking or harrassment.
  • ONDAS: Opening New Doors To Accelerating Success is a academic resource center for First-Gen Students.

Late Course Decisions: If dropping a course is a consideration, discuss your situation with a Letters and Science advisor after consulting with your instructor or TA. Review the process for petitioning to drop a course after the GOLD drop deadline.

Know Academic Policies: Familiarize yourself with academic policies, regulations, and degree requirements. Refer to LASAR (Letters and Science Academic Requirements) and the UCSB Catalog.

Stay Informed: Regularly check important academic dates and information such as university deadlines, fee information, enrollment and withdrawal forms on the Office of the Registrar's website and on GOLD.

Plan for the Future: Consider your future after graduation with guidance from Career Services. They can assist you with finding the perfect career fit and helping you build an exceptional resume among other resourses!

Never Hesitate to Ask for Help: Remember, there are many resources available on campus to support you—always ask for help when needed!

Academic Probation

According to UCSB Academic Faculty Senate academic regulations, an undergraduate who begins a term in good academic standing “will be placed on academic probation” if at the end of the quarter “his or her cumulative grade-point average is less than 2.0 computed on all courses undertaken at the University.”  Also, a student who is “Subject to Academic Disqualification” (see below) may be reinstated on probation at the discretion of the Dean of Undergraduate Education. Students placed on probation will be notified by an email sent to their UCSB Gmail accounts.  If students have questions about their academic status, they should contact Letters and Science Advising in 1117 Cheadle Hall,  by emailing or calling (805) 893-2038.

Please do not let terms like "subject to disqualification" or "probation" frighten you:  they are not meant to punitive, and one "bad" quarter does not lead to being immediately "kicked out" of UCSB.  Instead after a difficult quarter, students are placed on probation and are allowed to enroll during the following quarter under special conditions:

  1. They may enroll in no more than 17 units. If a student plans to enroll in fewer than 12 units, they should speak with an advisor.
  2. They may not enroll in a course for Passed/Not Passed grading unless that is the only option allowed for the course. 
  3. In most cases, students on probation will be required to meet with a Letters and Science advisor to discuss their course schedule for the quarter as well as their academic circumstances.

If students earn at least a 2.0 GPA while probatiobn and their cumulative GPA is at least 2.0,  they return to “Regular Status” the following qurarter. A student on probation for one quarter (this is referred to as "P-1") who earns a 2.0 following the quarter but whose cumulative GPA remains under 2.0, stays on probation during the subsequent quarter  (this is "P-2" probation).  A student on P-2 must both earn at least a 2.0 during the subsequent quarter and must bring his/her cumulative GPA to at least 2.0 or will be Subject to Disqualification.

Repeating a course could be an effective way for a student to improve his/her academic record.  If a student repeats a course for which she/he received a grade of C- or lower, the grade for the most recent attempt the student replaces the previous grade in the UC grade calculation for up to 16 units from repeated courses.  Students must petition to repeat a course for a second time, and these petitions are almost never granted.  In addition to being an efficient way to improve one's GPA, it can be beneficial to repeat a course if it covers information fundamental to a major or if a student needs a better grade as a pre-requisite for another course.  Sometimes, however, it’s best to let it go, to not repeat a course that you didn’t enjoy and don’t need.  It often makes sense to discuss with a Letters and Science advisor the consequences of repeating a course.

Academic Enrollment Agreement

The Dean of Undergraduate Education has the discretion to place some students who are on Academic Probation on an Academic Enrollment Agreement (a.k.a., a “contract”) that adds stipulations in addition to those outlined above to the terms of their Probation.  Students on a contract are required to meet with a Letters and Science advisor to discuss the contract and have their course schedule for the quarter approved.  Generally, these added stipulations regard progress the student is making in his or her major. The student must meet all the stipulations in the agreement to return to Regular Status.

Subject to Academic Disqualification

According the UCSB Academic Faculty Senate regulations, a student is “Subject to Academic Disqualification” if

a. at the end of any term his or her grade-point average for that term is less than 1.5, or

b.  while on academic probation his or her grade point for any term falls below 2.0, or

c.  after consecutive terms on academic probation he/she has not achieved a grade-point average of 2.0 computed on the total of all courses taken in the University [of California].

Please note that the term is “'Subject' to Disqualification" and not “Disqualified.” The Faculty Senate has given the Dean of Undergraduate Education the discretion to allow students who are Subject to Disqualification to be reinstated on Academic Probation.  When students are Subject to Disqualification, they will receive an email at their UCSB Gmail account.  That email will explain whether they will be automatically reinstated on Academic Probation or whether they will need to submit an Academic Self-Reflection before being considered for reinstatment.

Academic Disqualification

Students who are Subject to Disqualification and who are not automatically reinstated by the Dean of Undergraduate Education or whose requests for reinstatement are denied, will be “Academically Disqualified.” Students who are Academically Disqualified are not allowed to enroll and receive credit for UCSB courses (including UC Extension courses) during fall, winter, or spring quarters.  A disqualified student may, however, enroll and receive credit for courses taken during a UC Summer Session. 

Academic disqualification is not meant to be punitive.  Rather it is a means for the College of Letters and Science to prevent a student from doing further damage to his or her academic record.  Being academically disqualified is not the same as being "dismissed" from the university: In most cases, a student who is disqualified can become eligible to return to regular status and complete his or her degree. In order to be reinstated and to be eligible to enroll in courses during a regular quarter, a student will need to complete an Academic Self-Reflection to considered for reinstatement.  The Collge of Letters and Science will review the self-assessment and the the students academic record to determine whether the student a student is ready to successfully pursue a degree. 

We urge students who have been academically disqualified to speak with an academic advisor about the steps they can take to return to UC Santa Barbara.  Please use QLess to arrange to speak with an advisor during our advising hours.  If you are unable to speak with an advisor during our advising hours, email Letters and Science Advising to have a advisor will contact you.

Requesting Reinstatement (and Readmission if away from UCSB for a Quarter or More)

Most students who are Subject to Disqualification and all students who are Academically Disqualified must thoughtfully respond to the Academic Self-Reflection to be considered for reinstatement. The questions on the form ask students to reflect upon the difficulties that led to their academic difficulties, to demonstrate that they resolved those difficulties, and to review their academic goals.  It is often helpful for students to provide documentation with the appeal that verifies both the challenges students faced and the steps students have taken to overcome those challenges.  A student appealing for reinstatement who has been away from UCSB for a quarter or more must also complete a Readmission/Reinstatement form available from the Registrar's forms website.

Students who are Subject to Disqualification at the end of a term and who hope to continue at UCSB the next term will be notified about the deadline for requesting reinstatement.  Students who do not submit their request by the deadline or whose requests for reinstatement are denied will be dropped from their courses for the next tern.  Students who are Subject to Disqualification after a spring quarter may be required to enroll and succeed in courses in UC Summer Session to be eligible to be reinstated for fall quarter.  Students should use QLess to arrange to speak with an advisor or email Letters and Science Academic Advising at with questions about the reinstatement process.  

The College will expect to see evidence that this student is ready to succeed academically.  The best means to demonstrate that an academically disqualified student is ready to return as a regular student is by succeeding in summer session courses at UCSB or another UC. By doing so the student demonstrates s/he is capable of doing UC-level work.  Also grades in UC Summer Session courses count toward a student’s GPA, therefore help his or her academic situation.  In some cases, enrolling in another institution like a community college may also be an appropriate means for a student to demonstrate that s/he is ready to be successful to return to UCSB.

If an request for reinstatement is denied, a student may request to meet with an associate dean to appeal the denial.  Please note that the associate dean will expect the student to do more than merely restate the points made in the original appeal.  Rather the dean, will be expecting new information that indicates the students is ready to be academically successful.  A student whose appeal for reinstatement has been denied should use QLess or email Letters and Science Advising to arrange an appointment wth a dean.