Sep 29, 2023  
Undergraduate Catalog 2015-2016 
Undergraduate Catalog 2015-2016 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Grading and Academic Standing


Columbia College assesses student learning outcomes at all key points of the undergraduate experience.

Pre-matriculation. Entering student ACT Math subscores are used for math course placement and ACT English subscores are used for English Composition placement. A score of 21 or above on the ACT math subscore or equivalent SAT score is required to place into MATH 150: College Algebra. Entering student ACT/SAT subscores are used to place into English Composition courses. An ACT score of 18 or above on the English subscore is required to place into ENGL 111 - English Composition I ; an ACT score of 30 or above is required to place into ENGL 112 - English Composition II .

General Education. Achievement of general education learning outcomes is assessed by the ETS Proficiency Profile (ETS PP) for Day Campus students and the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress (MAPP). The ETS PP exam is administered to seniors during their culminating experience course. A pre-test of the ETS PP is administered during INCC 111 , the Freshman Year Experience course.

These exams are nationally normed standardized test taken by thousands of students at colleges and universities throughout the United States. They focus on skills developed in introductory courses in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. It concentrates on issues, themes, and ideas.

Major. Achievement of outcomes in the major is assessed by the major culminating experience which is noted in bold face in the course descriptions. The instrument of assessment varies from department to department. Many administer the Major Field Test (MFT), a standardized test of undergraduate mastery of the discipline.

The MFT is a nationally normed standardized test taken by thousands of students at colleges and universities throughout the United States. The content of the Major Field Test reflects the basic knowledge and understanding gained in the core undergraduate curriculum. The tests are designed to assess mastery of concepts and principles, as well as knowledge expected of students at the conclusion of a major in specific subject areas. The MFT will be administered during the capstone course.

History Assessment Test. The History Assessment Test (HAT) is a departmentally produced program-level outcomes assessment instrument developed by the history faculty. The test is designed to assess mastery of concepts and principles in history, as well as knowledge expected of baccalaureate level history majors. The HAT will be administered during the history degree capstone course, HIST 494, Senior Seminar in History .

Other. A sample of students is surveyed during odd numbered years using the ACT Enrolled Student Survey. Alumni are surveyed regularly online.

Feedback. Faculty, coordinated by the Academic Assessment Committee, and administrators use data from assessment to improve curricula and pedagogy and to improve the physical learning environment of the College.

Final Examination Policy (Main Campus Day Only)

Main Campus Day students are expected to complete all final exams according to the final exam schedule, but are not expected to take more than two exams in one day. Students who are scheduled for three or more exams in one day and who wish to change their schedule should coordinate their final examination schedule with their instructors.

Attendance and Lack-of-Effort Policies

Students are expected to attend all classes and laboratory periods for which they are enrolled. The instructor defines conditions under which an absence is excused. The instructor is responsible for the maintenance of standards and quality of work in his or her classes. An absence is an individual matter between student and instructor.

Students are directly responsible to instructors for class attendance and for work missed during an absence for any cause. If absences jeopardize progress in a course, the student’s instructor will submit a course Warning Report promptly to the Office of the Registrar. An instructor may drop such a student from the course; and any drop initiated past the drop date by an instructor for a student’s lack of attendance or lack of effort is recorded on the student’s permanent record with a grade of F or W at the discretion of the instructor. Columbia College reserves the right to drop or withdraw students from courses due to lack of attendance. This information may be reported to various government agencies.

Day Campus students who will be absent from class due to participation in athletics or a college-sponsored extracurricular activity are responsible for completing all required coursework as stipulated in their course syllabus for each class provided by the instructor. The instructor is the only individual who determines performance standards, evaluates student achievement and determines if and how student absences are calculated and accommodated. Student athletes must meet the conditions of their ‘Letter of Intent,’ but may participate in conflicting college-sponsored events with their coach’s acquiescence. Student participants who are unable to enroll in a day course because of intractable conflicts caused by attendance requirements may be allowed to take the course during the evening or online.

Day students are notified if their instructor cannot meet with them during any regularly scheduled class period. In the event that the instructor does not arrive at an appointed class within 15 minutes after the class regularly begins and after representatives of the class have made inquiries in the Office for Academic Affairs, students are excused from the class. Evening and AHE students should contact their campus staff if the instructor does not arrive at an appointed class. Additionally, if the campus is made aware of an instructor absence ahead of time, then a sign will be posted on the classroom door.

Please refer to the Financial Aid section regarding attendance requirements for financial aid purposes.

Grades and Notations

A Excellent
B Superior
C Satisfactory
D Inferior
F Failing
I Incomplete: Unfinished work to be completed without further class attendance.
N Audit: Did not complete course.
S/U Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory: Recorded when the pass/fail option is chosen
U Unsatisfactory. An option that can be used as a grade for MATH 104 , MATH 106 , and EAPP 100 , EAPP 101 , EAPP 102 , EAPP 103 , EAPP 104 , EAPP 105 , and ENGL 107 .
W Withdraw
WE Excused from the course for extraordinary circumstances.*
Y Audit: Completed course. No official credit recorded on transcript.

* Extraordinary Circumstances

Generally, this phrase is narrowly interpreted to mean the development of unforeseen, unexpected circumstances beyond a student’s control that prevent continued attendance in all classes (death of an immediate family member, certain changes in the student’s employment, and mental or physical illness befalling the student or a member of his/her immediate family). All classes currently enrolled in must be included in the WE request.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

Grade-point average is determined by assigning point values to letter grades for each semester hour earned at Columbia College. Quality points are assigned as follows: A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, F = 0.

For example, if a student completes the following 16 credit hours in a semester, his or her GPA would be calculated as follows:

Course Credit hours Grade Total Quality Points
English Composition 3 B 9
Biology 5 C 10
American History 3 B 9
Introduction to Business 3 A 12
Art and Ideas 2 A 8
  16   48

Divide the total number of quality points earned (48) by the total number of credit hours attempted (16). The GPA for that semester is 3.0 (B).

If a student fails a course, he/she receives no quality points for the course credit hours attempted. This failure adversely affects total quality points since the hours failed remain part of the formula for computing the GPA.

The cumulative GPA is determined by dividing the total quality points earned by the total credit hours attempted at Columbia College. Courses that are repeated or taken on a pass/fail (S/U grade) basis are not considered when determining a semester or cumulative GPA. See section “Repeating a Course.”

Grading System

Day students’ academic progress is reported twice each semester, at mid-semester and at the semester’s end. Mid-term grade reports are available for all 100- and 200-level courses to Day students only. All other venues report grades only at the end of the session.

Changes of Grade

A change in grade may be made when a computational error has been made by the instructor or when a processing error has been made. A request for a grade change must be made within 60 calendar days of the grade being issued. Requests are honored only when approved by the Dean for Academic Affairs (Day Campus) or Vice President of Adult Higher Education (Main Campus Evening, Online and Nationwide).

Grade Appeal

Main Campus Day

Grade appeals should be filed only when it is possible to demonstrate with substantial objective evidence that an incorrect or an unfair grade has been assigned. If a student believes that the final grade received in any course is incorrect or unfair, he or she follows the grade appeal procedure outlined below:

  1. Discuss the problem with the faculty member (instructor) involved.
  2. If not satisfied with that faculty member’s explanation, seek mediation from the department chair.
  3. Failing resolution of the problem, student makes an appeal to the Dean for Academic Affairs (DAA) by requesting a grade appeal hearing with the Campus Hearing Board. This request is filed in writing with the DAA within 60 calendar days after grades have been issued by the Registrar. The DAA may inform the student that materials submitted do not support the request for change in grade and/or forward the appeal to the Campus Hearing Board. The decision of the Campus Hearing Board is final. The chair of the Campus Hearing Board communicates this decision in writing to the student, the DAA, the Dean for Student Affairs, and any other parties involved in the appeal. If a change in grade or academic standing results, the chair of the Campus Hearing Board notifies the Registrar of the new grade or change in standing.
  4. In the event that new evidence becomes available, a request may be made in writing to the DAA, who determines whether the appeal is to be reconsidered. If a question arises regarding procedural correctness or impartiality, the issue may be brought to the DAA who has the final authority in passing judgment on such matters.
  5. Operating procedures for Campus Hearing Boards are available in the offices of Academic Affairs and Student Services Division.

Main Campus Evening, Online and Nationwide

A student may appeal any grade given, if it is believed to be in error or in conflict with Columbia College policy and procedures. Initially, campus Directors will try to resolve a grade appeal at the campus in accordance with local policies. If the issue cannot be resolved at the campus the appeal will be transmitted through the Director to the Vice President for Adult Higher Education.

The student must state all reasons why the grade awarded is believed to be in error and request a desired remedy to correct the situation. The adjunct faculty member who awarded the grade in question is given the opportunity to comment on all student allegations before the appeal is forwarded to main-campus authority. A grade appeal must be received for review by the Vice President for Adult Higher Education prior to the end of 60 days from the date the grade was awarded.

Incomplete Coursework

The grade of I (Incomplete) is reserved for “extraordinary circumstances” that prevent a student from completing the requirements of a course by the end of the term. Extraordinary circumstances is narrowly interpreted to mean unforeseen, unexpected circumstances beyond a student’s control that prevent continued attendance in all classes (death of an immediate family member, a change in the student’s employment, mental or physical illness befalling the student or a member of his/her immediate family). The request for an Incomplete must be initiated by the student and only the instructor may grant an incomplete. In such cases the instructor makes specific written arrangements with the student for making up the grade.

If a student receives an Incomplete, he/she must complete all work by the end of the following semester (or by the end of two eight-week sessions) unless the instructor requires a shorter completion date. Extensions beyond one semester or two sessions completion time must be granted in writing by the instructor. Subsequent extensions must be approved by the Dean for Academic Affairs (Day Campus) or the Vice President for Adult Higher Education (Evening and AHE). The student is responsible for this deadline. Incompletes that are not finished are to be permanently recorded by the instructor as I or any other grade.

When incomplete work in a course is completed, the instructor is responsible for reporting the letter grade that replaces the ‘I’ on the student’s permanent record to the Office of the Registrar.

Course Audit

Students may audit a regularly scheduled class for no grade and no credit. However, participation in the course is noted on their official record. Auditing provides students the opportunity to pursue an interest in a particular subject without being graded. Acceptable performance, attitude, and attendance, as defined by the instructor for the course, are expected. Audit enrollments do not fulfill requirements for coursework for degree completion, requirements for load considerations by the Veterans Administration for educational benefits, or requirements for financial aid awards. If students enroll for an audit course, they are subject to regular enrollment procedures and a $90 per-semester-hour fee. Students are also liable for all course lab fees. All students enrolling under this policy are required to complete the Auditing: Information and Request Form, which is available in the Enrollment Service Center.

Applicants requesting to only audit a course are subject to the standard admission requirements.

Some programs of the College (e.g. Piano, Voice, Nursing and Online Education courses) are not available for audit.


Students may take one course per semester or session on a pass/fail basis. These may not be courses in the declared major (Honors projects in the major may be taken pass/fail). Certain courses, by program definition, are always taken on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. Students may take one additional course per semester on a pass/fail basis if the course is only offered on a satisfactory/unsatisfactory basis. To receive a grade of S, work must equal the work of other students who earn a grade of A, B, or C. See the Academic Affairs Department for more information.

Students should designate at the time of registration that they wish to take a course pass/fail. Each term, students enrolling in a course pass/fail may change from pass/fail to the standard grading system (A, B, C, D, or F) or from the standard grading system to pass/fail up to the end of the first quarter (usually 4 weeks for a semester, 2 weeks for an eight-week session) of that term. 

Students who take courses that are only offered on a pass/fail basis are not precluded from Dean’s List eligibility. However, students who elect to take a course pass/fail are not considered eligible for Dean’s List. Please note there is a special exception for students who study abroad with one of our approved exchange partners. For more information, go to the International Programs page.

Repeating a Course

Most Columbia College courses may be repeated at Columbia College in an attempt to improve the grade. The grade earned for the second attempt is used to determine grade-point average, and the first grade is identified as R (Repeat) on the transcript. The first grade is not included in total hours attempted or the grade-point average. In all cases, the second grade is the one that is recorded. No duplicate credit is given.

Some courses may be taken multiple times for credit, e.g. ENGL 350 Major Literary Figures. Each enrollment adds hours and impacts the grade-point average. Further details are available from the Academic Affairs Department. Students who use federal financial aid assistance must check with the Enrollment Service Center to determine financial liability when repeating a course. A course repeated in transfer will not cause a grade change or a notation of R in a Columbia College course. In most cases, the transfer course will not be accepted as it will be considered a duplication of coursework. If both courses are needed on the record for a specifically approved reason (e.g. ENGL 111  completed with Columbia College for a grade of D and repeated in transfer with a grade of C) the result will be an increase in overall hours needed for degree completion and in residency hours needed.

Once a baccalaureate degree has been awarded the degree GPA is frozen. Subsequent coursework and grades will not be calculated as part of the initial degree GPA. Coursework completed as part of the initial degree may be repeated but the subsequent grade will not replace the initial grade. Both courses and grades will be reflected on the record and both will be calculated into the overall Columbia College GPA. Coursework which repeats credit applied toward an initial degree does not count towards the required 30 additional hours in residence for a subsequent degree.


Students are designated Freshmen, Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors according to the following standard of completed credit hours:

  0 - 23.9 Freshman
  24 - 51.9 Sophomore
  52 - 83.9 Junior
  84 - 120+ Senior

Probation, Suspension, Dismissal, and Readmission


Students are placed on academic probation and may be suspended or dismissed if they fail to maintain the following cumulative GPA standards by the time they have attempted or completed the indicated number of hours, including hours accepted in transfer:

  0 - 30.9 sem. hrs: 1.75 GPA
  31 - 45.9 sem. hrs: 1.90 GPA
  46 + sem. hrs: 2.00 GPA

“Completed credit hours” refers to semester hours attempted by a student for all courses for which letter grades (A, B, C, D, F, S, or U) have been received. Semester hours accepted in transfer from other colleges count as completed semester hours for determining GPA requirements; but, since no letter grades are recorded for transfer credits, such credits are not computed in the numerical GPA.

If students are placed on academic probation, they may not hold appointed or elected offices in any student organization, they may not participate in intercollegiate athletic competition and they may not carry an overload.

If students are placed on academic probation, they must earn sufficient quality points during their probation term to bring the GPA to the standards stated above. If they fail to do so, they are suspended for the following regular academic term(s) (the next fall or spring semester or the next two 8-week sessions). Day students may not serve a suspension during summer session.


A suspension occurs at the end of one probationary term for the following regular academic term(s) (the next fall or spring semester or the next two sessions). Suspensions may be imposed on students for the following situations:

  • Students who fail to attain an appropriate standard of satisfactory progress or fail to comply with any condition and/or requirement imposed as part of their probation.
  • Students who chronically withdraw from courses and do not make any academic progress may be suspended.
  • Students admitted by the Admissions Review Committee (see “Admission Policies ”) and who do not earn a 2.0 GPA may be suspended (see below).
  • Main Campus Day regular-admit students completing their first semester at Columbia College with a GPA of 0 may be suspended for one semester. Main Campus Day summer-admit students completing courses with a GPA of 0 may be suspended for two sessions.

Students may appeal the academic suspension action. Academically suspended students may be reviewed for readmission to Columbia College after an absence of one semester or two sessions.


Students may be dismissed from Columbia College if they are granted readmittance after their suspension and fail to achieve a satisfactory cumulative grade-point average in the next term (semester or session).

Academically dismissed students may be reviewed for readmission to Columbia College only after a three-year period has elapsed.


Students must write a letter of appeal to the Dean for Academic Affairs (Day Campus) or Vice President of Adult Higher Education (Main Campus Evening, Online or Nationwide) and apply for readmission after a suspension or dismissal period is completed. The student’s record is reviewed and a decision is made regarding eligibility and conditions of return. Readmission to the College is not automatic and does not establish student eligibility for financial aid.

Non-Degree Seeking Students

Non-degree seeking students must be in good academic standing in order to be eligible to re-enroll as a non-degree seeking student. Students who do not maintain this standard may be subject to probation or suspension.

Students who are suspended may be ineligible to apply for non-degree seeking status again. In order to be reconsidered for admission to Columbia College, the student will be required to complete the process for degree-seeking students, including a review by the Admissions Review Committee.

Veteran’s Guidelines

Satisfactory academic progress is required of students receiving VA educational benefits. Students who fail to make academic progress are reported to the VA for unsatisfactory academic progress.

Good Academic Standing

In order to be in good academic standing a student cannot be on academic probation, academic continued probation, academic suspension or dismissal.


Total Withdrawal from Columbia College (Day Campus Only)

The Dean for Student Affairs establishes the official date of withdrawal for day students based upon the date the student initiates the process by visiting Student Affairs. Information regarding academic and financial liability is available in the Student Affairs Office.

All withdrawals by Day students for extraordinary circumstances must be approved by Academic Affairs. Requests for approval must be submitted in writing when withdrawal procedures are initiated. A request for a grade(s) of WE (Withdrawal/Excused) must be accompanied by a letter from the student explaining the circumstances with substantiating documentation. Grades of WE may be requested through the last day of class (finals week excluded). It is not automatic and is subject to review and approval.

A WE grade cannot be granted unless all courses in which the student is enrolled are dropped.

If a student is administratively withdrawn from school, the withdrawal date will be established by the office responsible for the action. Tuition, room and board will be prorated according to the Total Withdrawal Time Frame Schedule. No credit will be given for nonrefundable deposits, laboratory or course fees, etc.

Withdrawal from a Course

Students may withdraw from a course(s) with a grade of “W” between the end of the drop period and prior to the end of the 12th week of the semester (Day Campus) or sixth week of the session (Evening and AHE). Provided a Withdrawal form is received no later than Friday of the 12th week of the semester or sixth week of a session, no punitive grade will be issued.  Students do not receive grade points for Withdraw (W) grades, but a notation appears on the transcript. Financial liability is not reduced when a student withdraws from a course.

Once enrolled in a class, a student is considered a member of that class until he or she officially drops or withdraws in accordance with institutional policy. A failure to attend class, or advising a fellow student, staff, or adjunct faculty member of an intent to withdraw from class does not constitute official drop or withdrawal. Withdrawals become effective the date the appropriate form is received by the College.

Students must complete the withdrawal process by submitting the completed Withdrawal form to the Enrollment Service Center (Day Campus and Evening Campus) or submitting a Course Withdrawal Form through CougarTrack (all campuses). Requests to Withdraw from a course will not be accepted by telephone. Students are required to personally complete, sign and date all withdrawal information. Signed fax withdrawal forms are acceptable. Confirmation of receipt is the responsibility of the student.

Should circumstances prevent a student from physically completing the withdrawal information, the student should contact their campus Director immediately (Evening and AHE) or Academic Affairs (Day Campus). Directors or other college personnel reserve the right to request substantiating documentation to support the student’s inability to complete the withdrawal process in person.

The withdrawal periods begins the same date the session starts, which is not necessarily the first day a particular class begins. When a student stops attending class and does not submit the Withdrawal form or paperwork as required, a grade of F will be awarded.

Students who receive any form of Federal Title IV assistance and who withdraw may be required by federal regulations to return some or all of the federal aid received. This includes the Federal Pell and SEOG grants, and the Stafford and PLUS loans. See the Financial Aid and Scholarships  section of the College catalog for additional information.

Withdrawal After the Published Last Date to Withdraw

After the last date to withdraw (according to the academic calendar) students will not be allowed to withdraw without extraordinary circumstances. In such cases a withdrawal excused (WE) request must be submitted prior to the end of the term (see below for criteria). In the rare situation when a student can substantiate the inability to contact the campus, in any manner, prior to the end of the term, a WE will be considered but only within 60 days of the end of the term. Students should be aware that requesting a WE after the published date to withdraw does not guarantee that the student will be withdrawn nor does it eliminate the possibility of a punitive grade and/or financial obligation. A student may also request a grade of W (withdrawn) from their instructor; however, the instructor is under no obligation to grant the request and the student is not guaranteed a grade of W. The request must be made prior to the end of the term and the student remains financially liable for all tuition and fees.

Withdrawal Excused

Students may request a withdrawal excused (WE) when extraordinary circumstances prevent them from completing a term; all courses in which the student is enrolled (both land-based and online) must be included in the request. Extraordinary circumstances are narrowly interpreted to mean the development of unforeseen, unexpected circumstances beyond a student’s control. Examples of extraordinary circumstances include serious illness, death in the immediate family, significant change in the location and/or conditions of employment, or an unexpected call to active military duty or extended periods of TDY. Mere inconvenience and/or discomfort with the academic workload, minor schedule changes in employment, connectivity issues, etc. do not meet the definition of extraordinary, mitigating, or extenuating circumstance.

A student may request a WE at any time during a semester or session. Day students should follow the Total Withdrawal guidelines in order to pursue a WE. Request for a WE must be submitted in writing or through CougarTrack at the time withdrawal procedures are initiated. A letter from the student with substantiating documentation of the extraordinary circumstances must be provided (to appropriate personnel depending upon program) by the last day of class (excluding finals week for Day Program students). Students should be aware that a refund is not automatic; requests for financial consideration are subject to review and approval by the appropriate dean (depending upon program). WE requests submitted during the regular published withdrawal period will be processed with a grade of W immediately; the grade will be changed to WE if/when approval is received. Withdrawal requests submitted after the end of the withdrawal period will not be processed unless WE approval is received from the Academic Affairs Department (Day Campus) or the Vice President of Adult Higher Education (Evening and AHE).

A student receiving any form of Federal Title IV assistance who withdraws from a course(s) with extraordinary circumstances, even with the College’s concurrence, may be required by federal regulation to return some or all of the federal aid received. The College follows federal guidelines concerning Return of Title IV Funds and does not have any authority to waive the rules regarding the return of federal assistance, even in extraordinary circumstances. This includes the Federal Pell and SEOG grants and the Stafford and PLUS loans. Contact the Enrollment Service Center for additional information.