Title IX & Student Conduct Code Blog

Duffy Law

Fighting the Impact of Academic Sanctions

Your academic transcripts can make a significant impact on your future. Prospective graduate schools, professional licensing boards, and other organizations not only take into your GPA but also any marks on your transcript that may indicate academic misconduct.

If students choose to withdraw from a class or cannot complete the coursework during the semester due to unforeseen circumstances, a W or incomplete may appear on their academic records. While they may hear questions about not finishing these courses on future applications, such marks are not necessarily viewed as automatically negative.

On the other hand, if a professor has accused a student of violating academic policies, an administrative withdrawal or a U for unsatisfactory performance may end up on the transcript. These are almost always viewed as negative marks and an indication that the student engaged in academic dishonesty.

Allegations that may result in such academic sanctions include:

  • Plagiarism, including self-plagiarism
  • Cheating
  • Fabricating citations or information
  • Facilitating the academic dishonesty of other students
  • Possessing a copy of an exam without authority
  • Submitting another student’s work
  • Tampering with another student’s work

A professor who suspects you violated any academic integrity policy could force an administrative withdrawal and report it on your academic record.

In addition to academic sanctions, negative grades can quickly bring down your GPA, a situation you may find difficult to reverse. Some professors fail to grade fairly or may have unreasonable standards when grading. Other professors may make pre-judgments or wage personal vendettas against particular students and may wrongfully give them poor grades. Whatever the reason, many students receive bad grades when they know they deserved better.

Effects of Academic Sanctions and Negative Grades

College transcripts are reviewed and considered in many scenarios. Negative marks on a record or a lower GPA can affect the following and more:

  • The ability to transfer to other schools
  • Acceptance into grad school
  • Qualifying for scholarships at another college or grad school
  • Receiving professional licenses
  • Eligibility for certain jobs

Needless to say, academic sanctions and undeservedly poor grades can form a dark cloud over your future and can derail your entire career path and finances.

In addition, an administrative withdrawal may hurt your eligibility for financial aid for that semester and your ability to pay for the rest of your credits. In the case of serious academic dishonesty allegations, you may even face suspension or expulsion from the school. This can leave you with a mound of debt for a degree you never finished and with diminished prospects of continuing your higher education at another comparable institution.

Fighting to Clean up Your Academic Record

College students facing disciplinary proceedings have due process rights and other protections from unfair treatment or wrongful discipline. However, academic sanctions or assessing a student’s academic performance and quality of work are often left to the discretion of the professor. In such cases, students do not have nearly as many legal protections and are generally at the mercy of the professor’s judgment.

Realize, however, that you can fight against a professor’s determination when it comes to poor grades or academic sanctions. Most colleges and universities have a specific student appeal process for academic issues. While these procedures may not favor students in many situations, an experienced students’ rights attorney can help you explore every option to stand up for yourself.

A College Code Defense Attorney Can Help You

Professors and administrators have significant discretion when it comes to grades and academic sanctions, while students have few and weak protections in these situations. At Duffy Law, however, our attorneys regularly stand up for the rights of students to fair treatment at higher education institutions. We can review your situation and advise you of your options. Please call (203) 946-2000 or contact us online today to discuss our legal services for college students.

Felice Duffy

Felice Duffy

Attorney At Duffy Law

Attorney Felice Duffy served as an Assistant United States Attorney for ten years after beginning her legal career at two prestigious firms (one in CT and one in NY) and then clerking for two federal judges. A life-long Title IX advocate, she brought a legal action under the then-new Title IX statute against UCONN while an undergraduate to compel the creation of its women’s varsity soccer program. She went on to become a first-team Division I All-American, was selected to be on the first U.S. National Women’s Team, and spent 10 years as Head Coach of the Yale women's soccer team. Attorney Duffy has Ph.D. in Education/Sports Psychology and has spoken to, and conducted trainings for, over 50 schools and organizations on a wide range of topics involving athletics, the law, and social justice. You can reach Felice at (203) 946-2000.
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