Glossary of Academic Terms

This glossary is intended to explain some of the academic terms used frequently in the process of advising and registration.

Academic Honesty

Academic honesty is crucial to the integrity of the program of learning in a college. Falsification, misrepresentation of another’s work as one’s own (such as cheating on examinations, reports, or quizzes), plagiarism from the work of others, or the presentation of substantially similar work for different courses (unless authorized to do so), is academic dishonesty and is a serious offense. Knowingly helping other students cheat or plagiarize also will be considered academic dishonesty. Plagiarism occurs when one, intentionally or unintentionally, uses another’s words, ideas, or data without proper acknowledgment. All new students will discuss academic dishonesty with their advisers and will be given an explanatory sheet of what constitutes academic dishonesty early in their career at Whitman. Students will sign a statement acknowledging that they understand what constitutes academic dishonesty.

Academic Probation

If you earn a semester grade-point average below 1.7 or a cumulative grade-point average below 2.0 subsequent to your first year, you will be placed on academic probation. This is a serious situation which may result in your being dismissed from the college if you do not make adequate and timely academic progress. Usually, students are allowed no more than two semesters of academic probation before being dropped for low scholarship. In rare cases, academic performance is so poor that students are dropped from the college after the fall semester of their first year. Despite the seriousness of the situation, however, many students have been able to remove themselves from probation and pursue successful academic careers at Whitman and in graduate school. Typically, this requires hard work, careful assessment of the factors which led to the problem, and a willingness to work with the various college resources available to assist you. If you are on probation, you should consult with your faculty adviser and the Academic Resource Center. The Writing Center and your SA will be happy to assist you as well.

Academic Warning

If your grade-point average at the end of the first semester of your first year is between 1.7 and 1.99, you may receive a letter of academic warning. Although this situation is not as critical as academic probation, it is nevertheless serious and should be addressed promptly. If you do not earn grades high enough to balance your first semester grades, you will fail to earn a 2.0 cumulative GPA at the end of the second semester and will be placed on academic probation. Additionally, subsequent to your first semester, if you do not complete at least 24 credits during your previous two semesters at Whitman, you also could receive an academic warning. It is therefore important for you to work with your faculty adviser, your SA, the Academic Resource Center, the Writing Center, and other resources on campus to ensure that your academic performance improves in the second semester. Further information about Academic Standards can be found in the catalog.


You can add a class to your schedule during the first two weeks of the semester. You will need to complete registration via the Web and obtain your faculty adviser’s electronic approval. If you want to add a class during the second week of the semester, you also will need to get consent from the professor who teaches the class you are adding.

Board of Review

The Board of Review is composed of three faculty members who consider student petitions for exceptions to academic policies. You must petition the Board of Review if you want to add, drop, or withdraw from a course after the published deadlines, change the time of a final exam, register for more than eighteen (18) academic credits, or seek a variance or exception to any college policy. Petition forms are available in the Registrar’s Office (Memorial 208) or on the Web. The Registrar or your adviser can give you further information about when it is necessary or appropriate to file a petition. The Board of Review will approve petitions for exceptions to college regulations only when sufficient justification exists.

Deferred Grade

The Board of Review, at the request of the course instructor, grants deferred grades in special circumstances. This option may be used when academic circumstances beyond the student’s control prevent the completion of a course or project. If a deferred grade is granted, the student receives a grade of “X” until the final grade is submitted. At the time of submission, the instructor must provide a date by which a final grade will be submitted.

Degree Progress

In order to remain in good standing, you need to meet the following criteria for degree progress: earn a minimum of 24 credits in any two consecutive semesters, successfully complete General Studies 145/146 during your first two semesters (see the catalog for further restrictions on this requirement), and maintain a semester GPA of 1.7 and cumulative GPA of at least 2.0, as well as a minimum 2.0 GPA in your major.


You can drop a class without any record on your transcript through the sixth week of classes. You will be able to withdraw from a class via the Web with your faculty adviser’s electronic approval. You do not need the instructor’s approval to drop a class, although it would be polite to tell the instructor so he or she won’t wonder why you have stopped attending class.

D Slips

Faculty members are expected to submit midterm deficiency notices (commonly known as D slips) for students who are incurring D or F grades in their coursework at the midsemester. If you receive a D slip, you should schedule an appointment with the instructor and with your adviser in order to discuss the reasons for your deficiency and the best ways to address the situation. Academic Resource Center staff will schedule an appointment to meet with you if you receive more than one D slip.


If certain circumstances beyond your control (illness, family emergency, etc.) prevent you from completing all of the work in your courses by the end of the semester, you may consult with the Dean of Students to determine if an incomplete would be appropriate. There is a more extensive discussion of incompletes in the catalog. Please educate yourself about the deadlines and consequences of not completing the course work. The Dean of Students or the Board of Review must authorize all incompletes.


During the 10th week of the semester, you will have an opportunity to submit a form to the Registrar’s Office indicating that you wish to be graded on a P-D-F basis in one or more of your classes. If you register for a course on a P-D-F basis, your transcript will show a P if the grade you earn in the course is a C- or better; if you receive a grade lower than C- (e.g. D+, D, D-, or F) that grade will be recorded on your transcript and counted in your cumulative grade-point average. Although the P-D-F option can be very beneficial in certain circumstances, there are complications involved with its use. Before you register for a course on a P-D-F basis, you should read the section of the Whitman catalog titled “P-D-F Grade Options” carefully. You must also consult your faculty adviser and obtain his or her approval. You may not P-D-F the Core class or classes fulfilling distribution areas.


If you decide to drop a class after the sixth week but before the end of the 10th week of classes, you will receive a grade of W. The W on your transcript indicates that you were registered in the course but decided not to continue in the middle of the semester. The W does not indicate how well or poorly you were doing at the time you decided to drop the course. Withdrawal can be a useful option if you find yourself in an excessively heavy course load or if you discover you don’t have a solid preparation or interest in a particular class. It can also be an appropriate response to unexpected circumstances such as illness or family problems. As always, you should consult with your adviser and obtain his or her consent.