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Policy 91

Continued Enrollment Requirements

Policy 91 requires that students continue to make progress towards their degree programs.

Identification of students not making sufficient progress towards BSME degree: Any Mechanical Engineering student not maintaining:

  • an overall GPA of 2.000 or higher,
  • a cumulative GPA of 2.000 or higher for all courses with an “ME” or “NSEG” prefix in the course number, and/or (referred to as an “in major” GPA)
  • a cumulative GPA of 2.000 or higher in “ME” and “NSEG” courses plus ESM2104, ESM2204, and ESM2304 (referred to as an “extended in major” GPA)
  • will receive an e-mail informing them that they are on “Policy 91” probation.

In addition to meeting the minimum GPA requirements above, students must also make continuous progress towards completing their BSME degree.

Students who do not complete 12 credits of courses which apply towards their ME degree during any 1 year period may be placed on Policy 91 probation.  This does not include co-op work terms or terms during which a student enrolls in 0 credits at Virginia Tech.

Students who are not making progress in milestone courses by a set number of “attempted required credit hours” may also be placed on Policy 91 probation.  These requirements include:

  • MATH 2114, MATH 2204, and ESM 2104 by 45 attempted required credits
  • ESM 2304, ME 2004, and MATH 2214 by 60 attempted required credits
  • ME 2134, (ME 3624 or ME 3024), and ME 3524 by 72 attempted required credits
  • (ME 4124 or ME4544 or ME4524)  and ME 4015 by 93 attempted required credits

Here, “attempted required credits” includes any course on a student’s VT transcripts which is listed on the ME checksheet (or degree path sheet) EXCEPT technical electives and curriculum for liberal education (CLE) electives.  Free electives are NOT included in the attempted required credits total.  The attempted required credit total includes repeated courses, transfer credits covering required courses, and courses with grades of W or F.

Students on Policy 91 probation  may be required to meet with the Mechanical Engineering Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Studies or another member of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee to discuss goals and requirements for the coming semester to ensure that the student makes sufficient progress toward their BSME degree.

Requirements for students placed on Policy 91 probation to avoid suspension: Students placed on Policy 91 probation must do the following while on Policy 91 probation to avoid suspension:

  • Complete at least 12 credits of required courses on the ME checksheet during any 1 year period, excluding technical electives and Pathways electives, AND
  • Complete milestone courses by designated attempted required credits OR complete prerequisites for milestone courses that are overdue. AND
  • Take in-major courses and achieve a 2.300 in-major GPA each semester until the cumulative in-major GPA reaches 2.000 or higher (or maintain a 2.000 in-major GPA) AND earn a 2.500 semester overall GPA until the overall GPA reaches 2.000 or higher (or maintain a 2.000 overall GPA).
  • As well as maintaining current GPA and/ or course deficiencies, students may not create a new deficiency while on Policy 91.

Conditions to have Policy 91 probation lifted: Students must meet the 2.000 overall, in-major, AND extended in-major GPA requirements.  They must also complete the milestone courses in such a way that there are no more incomplete milestone courses which violate the attempted credit deadlines listed above.

Implications of Policy 91 suspension: Policy 91 suspension is a permanent suspension from the department.  Students wishing to switch to a different engineering department or college at VT must meet the entrance requirements for the new major.  With the new enrollment management plan which takes effect January 2013, changing majors into another engineering department may be more difficult, as ALL degree granting engineering departments will have a variable entrance requirement somewhere between a 2.0 and 3.0 overall GPA.

  • Policy 91 is a University policy used to ensure that students make continual progress towards their degree. Each department has its own Policy 91 criteria to determine which students are at risk to fail to graduate. Mechanical Engineering students who have:
  • An overall GPA below 2.000 (average of all courses taken at VT
  • An in-major GPA below 2.000 (average of courses with “ME” and “NSEG” in course prefix), and/or
  • An extended in-major GPA below 2.000 (average of courses with “ME” and “NSEG” in course prefix and ESM2104, ESM2204, and ESM2304)
  • are at high risk for not being able to meet the graduation requirements of a 2.000 in-major GPA and a 2.000 overall GPA by the time they have completed their required courses.
  • The purpose of Policy 91 is to ensure that students make continuous progress towards their degree and to encourage students to improve their performance or switch majors before they have invested a large amount of time and money on a degree they are unlikely to finish.
  • Students are required to have an overall GPA of 2.00 or higher to enter any engineering department, and when the GPA drops below this value, it is a strong indication that the student is struggling and needs more guidance and advice. Many students improve their performance with a little encouragement and advice from an academic advisor.
  • The extended in-major GPA (ESM2104, ESM2204, & ESM2304 plus ME & NSEG courses) is included as a continued enrollment requirement to help identify students who are struggling earlier on in their studies. In-major GPA’s tend to be high during the sophomore year, as grades in ME 2124 and ME 2024 tend to be much higher than in typical junior level ME courses. The difficulty of ESM 2104 (statics), ESM 2204 (deforms), and ESM 2304 (dynamics) tends to be more in line with the difficulty of typical junior level ME courses.
  • The extended in-major GPA also helps identify students with weak academic performance who have taken a large number of humanities and/or free electives courses to mask poor grades in math, science, and engineering courses. For many students, the extended in-major GPA is a better indicator of how well a student will do in required engineering courses than the overall GPA.
  • Note that the extended in-major GPA does not need to be 2.0 or higher to graduate, but it does need to be 2.0 or higher to stay off of Policy 91 probation.
  • Students can be suspended from the department as early as the end of the first semester they are placed on probation if they fail to make any progress towards their degree (example – don’t take any classes counting towards their degree, earn D’s and F’s in all of their classes, etc.). Students must do the following while on Policy 91 probation to avoid suspension:
  • Complete at least 12 credits of required courses on the ME checksheet during any 1 year period, excluding technical electives and CLE/Pathways electives, and
    Improve overall, in-major, and extended in-major GPA’s to 2.000 by the end of two semesters, or
  • Take in-major courses and achieve a 2.300 in-major GPA each semester until the in-major GPA reaches 2.000 or higher (or maintain a 2.000 in-major GPA) AND earn a 2.500 semester overall GPA until the overall GPA reaches 2.000 or higher (or maintain a 2.000 overall GPA)
  • Accept the invitation to the department’s Policy 91 Canvas site (per instructions given in the Policy 91 notification letter from the Dean’s Office) and complete the required assignments.
  • Students with questions should consult their academic advisor.

In the past, the Mechanical Engineering Department prepared individual Policy 91 contracts and required students to sign these contracts by the end of the first week of classes.  Instead of having individual contracts outlining specific GPA and course requirements, the department has gone to a system where all students must follow the same generic rules of improving in-major and overall GPA’s to a 2.00 by the end of the next semester and eliminating course deficiencies (see above).  Students should consult their academic advisor if they have questions about what it will take to earn their way off of Policy 91 probation.

  • “Attempted required credits” are the sum of all of the credits that show up on a student’s unofficial transcripts for courses listed by subject and course number on the ME checksheet. Pathways, CLE, technical, and free elective credits are NOT included. Attempted required credits include required courses where credit was awarded (and not declined) through AP, IB, CLEP or other credit-by-exam tests or earned at transfer institutions or awarded through advanced standing. Attempted required credits include courses for which letter grades were assigned or course withdrawal credits were used. Incomplete or unsatisfactory grades (I, NG, F) are included in the count of attempted required credits.
  • Although the “attempted required credits” are a little more difficult to count than the total attempted credits or GPA hours, we use this metric because it does not unfairly penalize students who entered Virginia Tech with a large number of transfer or AP credits or who have changed majors or are pursuing a minor or second major.
  • If you decide to take a semester off of school, this does not count against the time you are given to earn your way off of Policy 91 probation. Sometimes taking a semester off is a good way to regain focus and get more inspired about completing your degree. If you have personal issues that have contributed to your poor performance at school, a semester off may help you work out your problems so that you can come back and do better.
  • If you take a semester off for a formal co-op job and are enrolled in the 0-credit CEP course through Career Services and decide to enroll in courses at Virginia Tech while working full time, the minimum credits and required course clauses of Policy 91 probation do not apply, however, the target GPA requirements will remain in effect.
  • If you receive academic relief through the University due to a health or personal issue, your Policy 91 status and contract(s) will be re-evaluated. If you request and are granted partial relief for a semester (keep some courses, but remove others from academic record), the minimum of 12 credits counting towards your BSME degree in any 12 month period clause will still hold. Also, credits earned for required courses will continue to add to your “attempted required credit” total, so we suggest that you consider this carefully before applying for partial academic relief.
  • If you decide to resign from all courses from a semester before the resignation deadline or are granted academic relief to remove all courses from a semester, the semester will not count as one of the two semesters you are given to remove your deficiencies.
  • If you are granted academic relief, we strongly recommend that you take as much time off from school as is necessary to overcome the issues that caused you to require academic relief. If you return to school and do poorly again, we suggest that you reflect on what went wrong and honestly consider whether or not Mechanical Engineering is the right major for you.
  • Our experience has shown that students who do not perform well their first semester back after receiving academic relief are very likely to be suspended through Policy 91. Using academic relief to avoid a broken contract may only delay the suspension if the student has not addressed the underlying issues which caused the poor academic performance.

Professors are not allowed to change grades for the sole reason of helping you meet a Policy 91 contract, so please don’t ask. If one of your grades changes due to a grade entry error or an honor system violation, your Policy 91 contract(s) will be re-evaluated to see if you met the Policy 91 probation requirements.

  • We feel that it is better to take your time and earn a degree than to not complete your degree at all. If you end up being suspended from the department and being forced to choose a different major, that will most likely take more time than just taking a lighter courseload and doing well in the courses you are taking.
  • Many engineering students take more than four years to graduate. Policy 91 students often struggle more than the average student with large courseloads. Take a look at your last few semester(s) with a comparable courseload (similar number of credits and similar difficulty of courses) to the one you want to take. How were your grades during those semesters? How many credits did you actually complete?
  • We often suggest co-op jobs for Policy 91 students as a way to spread out courses to a reasonable load while earning a good salary and getting some great work experience. Not only does this give a student a break from school, but it also helps to strengthen a resume and move the focus of a resume from grades to relevant work experience.
  • Summer courses (either at VT or at transfer schools) can also help decrease fall and spring semesters to reasonable loads, however, we don’t recommend heavy summer loads. Students often get fatigued when they don’t take a break. Summer courses can also prevent students from gaining valuable work experience.
  • Students with low in-major GPA’s are often advised to repeat ME courses in which previous grade(s) were all C- or lower. If a course is retaken in which previous grade(s) were C- or lower, the new grade averages into the GPA as if it were a different course; old grades are never overwritten by new grades.
  • Retaking prior ME courses with low grades strengthens a student’s background and makes it easier for them to do well in future ME courses. It also can help a student improve a low in-major GPA. To make progress to get to the 2.0, the grades need to be C+ or higher (C’s don’t help reduce quality point deficits, and they prevent a student from retaking the course for a grade in the future).
  • Students can also choose technical electives taught by the ME Department to help improve their in-major GPA. Students should only choose technical electives that they are interested in; if a student is not interested in a course, their grades will often reflect a lack of interest.
  • For Policy 91 students, we especially recommend:
  • Free tutoring for 1000 and 2000 level courses available through the Student Success Center.
  • Free Academic Success Seminars offered through Student Success Center (includes topics such as time management, note taking, test taking, procrastination, etc.)
  • Other Learning Assistance Programs offered through the Student Success Center, including programs for students on academic probation or suspension and UNIV1004, College Success Strategies (3 credit, A/F course)
  • Online Study Skills Workshops offered through Cook Counseling Center (includes time management, study skills, note taking, motivation, etc.)
  • The Sloan Career Cornerstone website, and Career Services are excellent resources for students who are unsure about their choice of a major
  • Cook Counseling Center for counseling to help with personal problems like stress, anxiety, low motivation, depression, relationship problems, etc.
  • Services for Students with Disabilities if have been diagnosed with a disability or suspect you have a disability that is affecting your academic performance
  • A section of the tri-board bulletin board in the Randolph Lobby is reserved for advertisements for students seeking tutors and students willing to serve as tutors. All tutoring arrangements (pay, number of hours, etc.) are strictly between the student and the tutor.
  • Please see your advisor for additional information.
  • To earn your way off of Policy 91 probation, you need to improve your grades to:
  • 2.000 or higher overall GPA
  • 2.000 or higher in-major GPA (ME & NSEG courses)
  • 2.000 or higher extended in-major GPA (ME & NSEG courses plus ESM2104, ESM2204, and ESM2304)
  • and complete the key courses in such a way that there are no more incomplete key courses which violate the attempted credit deadlines listed below:
  • ESM2304, ME2124, and MATH2214 by 60 attempted required credits
  • ME3124, ME3514, and ME3614 by 72 attempted required credits
  • ME4006, ME4015, and ME4124 by 90 attempted required credits
  • You will not be on Policy 91 probation during semesters in which your grades are above the continued enrollment requirements as long as you are not deficient in any of the courses listed above.
  • As long as you finish all required courses for a BSME degree, earn the minimum required credits, meet the minimum grade requirements for graduation,
  • 2.000 or higher overall GPA
  • 2.000 or higher in-major GPA (ME courses)
  • and are enrolled in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the time of graduation, you can earn your BSME degree.