Early Alert

Our goal at Whatcom Community College is to help you be proactive in taking steps toward your academic goals, become an advocate for yourself, and empower you to shape your educational experience to fit your needs. Early Alert is part of our strategy to help you do that. The goal of Early Alert and WCC's Academic Progress Policy is to find and connect with students who are struggling, so if you're struggling, visit with an academic advisor or academic coach to discuss challenges and make a personalized plan to get back on track. 

Offices that Support Early Alert Outreach Efforts:

What is the Early Alert Support Program?

Each quarter, instructors complete progress surveys to let you know how you're doing in their class and let support staff know who might need an outreach call. During each progress survey instructors also have the opportunity to send kudos messages to you if you're doing well or showing improvement in their course. Not all instructors send kudos though, so don't worry if you don't happen to receive a kudos message.

When instructors complete progress surveys and raise alerts for you, this sends a resource email to your WCC email account and raises a little flag in your Starfish profile. You and support staff can view flags raised for you by logging in to Starfish (in MyWCC). Starfish is the tool we use to facilitate progress surveys and house these "early alerts." It allows faculty and staff to communicate more effectively in supporting you, and allows you to view your flags or kudos from anywhere you have access to internet. Alerts that instructors raise are usually related to attendance and low grades. Poor attendance and low grades can both signal to instructors and support staff that you're at risk of falling behind and not grasping essential content of the course.

We understand that a variety of factors impact your learning and ability to attend. Many students have competing responsibilities related to work, childcare, health, and more. Sometimes students struggle to balance these competing responsibilities or unexpected challenges that arise in a given quarter, which can impact grades, attendance, and academic progress. What's most important is that you reach out for help when you need it, keep looking for resources, and stay connected to staff and faculty who are part of the network you're building to support your academic goals and success.

What do I do if I've received an alert email?
  1. Review the email by accessing your student email account. To find your student email account, log in to MyWCC and look on the right side of the screen. These emails may have comments from your instructor that offer guidance about what you can do to be successful in that course. They also include ways to contact support staff and steps to get back on track.
  2. Answer the phone; if you receive a call from an advisor, academic coach or other support staff it might show up as an unfamiliar number. We're calling because we want to find out how you're doing now, if you'd like to meet to brainstorm next steps for your success, and to inform you of other important tasks, deadlines, and opportunities related to your academic progress as a WCC student.
  3. Meet with your instructor, advisor, or academic coach soon. We facilitate Early Alert and Mid-Quarter Alert progress surveys every quarter because we want to make sure that we support you proactively as you work toward your academic goals at Whatcom Community College. We can't always make a phone call to everyone, and we leave a lot of voicemails, so we encourage you to schedule an appointment or visit drop-in if you're struggling even if you don't think you've received an alert or resource email.
What is WCC's Academic Progress Policy?

To make academic progress toward your goals, you need to earn A, B, and C grades consistently and complete the courses you enroll in. The consequence of consistently earning Ds and Fs each quarter will eventually be a change in your academic standing. It will also extend the time it takes you to finish your academic goal.

WCC's official Academic Progress Policy exists to ensure that you're making progress toward your academic goals and staying on track to graduate with at least a 2.0 cumulative GPA, which is a C average. This grade demonstrates a certain level of mastery of course content and is required to graduate.

Financial Aid has a separate review process to make sure students remain eligible to receive federal and state grants, scholarships, and loans, which often have more stringent requirements related to passing the courses you attempt with certain minimum grades. Please review WCC's Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress to learn more. In general, earning poor grades or withdrawing from courses can jeopardize your ability to continue to receive Financial Aid and may cause you to owe money back to Financial Aid.

How do I know my academic standing?

All new WCC students start in good academic standing. After grades are submitted each quarter, Financial Aid and Registration staff review grades and Registration updates academic standing. You'll receive an email to your WCC student email notifying your about changes in both your standing with Financial Aid and changes to your academic standing with the College. We encourage you to check your student email regularly.

If you are on academic warning, probation, or suspension you will always receive email notice the quarter your academic standing changes and a flag will raise in Starfish to indicate your current academic standing. If you have a gap in enrollment, you will receive an email notice when you register for classes. Advisors and Registration can also look up your academic standing upon request.

Below, you will find explanations of different academic standings related to WCC's Academic Progress Policy. International students are bound by additional visa compliance requirements, and their academic standing is calculated separately by International Programs. If you are an international student, visit your International Programs advisor to learn more.

What is good standing?

You're likely in good academic standing at Whatcom Community College if you've earned a combination of mostly As, Bs, and Cs, and your cumulative GPA is at or above a 2.0, which is a C average. Only letter-graded courses count toward GPA. Pass/Fail, Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, I grades, audits, and Ws do not change your GPA and are not factored in to WCC academic progress.

Other scenarios to consider:

  • Pass/Fail, Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, I grades, audits, and Ws do impact Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress.
  • International students are bound by additional visa compliance requirements, and their academic standing is calculated separately by International Programs. If you are an international student, visit your International Programs advisor to learn more.

What is academic warning?

If you're on academic warning, that means you earned one quarter of grades below a C average (2.00 quarterly GPA). In general, you'll meet one of the following criteria:

  • Students with a quarterly GPA below 2.00 and a cumulative GPA of 2.00 or higher.
  • Students after their first quarter at WCC with both a quarterly and cumulative GPA below 2.00.
  • Students who went on academic warning in their first quarter, but have since continued to earn quarterly GPAs above 2.00 remain on academic warning until their cumulative GPA is at or above a 2.00.
What is academic probation?

If you're on academic probation, that means you've earned below a C average (2.00.) for at least 2 quarters and your cumulative GPA is below a C average. In general, you'll meet one of the following criteria:

  • Students with both a quarterly and a cumulative GPA below 2.00 after a minimum of two quarters.
  • Students on academic probation remain on academic probation if their quarterly GPA remains above 2.00 until their cumulative GPA is at or above 2.00.

If you're on academic probation, you're unable to complete registration online because we want to make sure you work closely with an advisor or academic coach when you choose your classes each quarter. We encourage you to meet regularly with an advisor or academic coach to set goals each quarter and check in on your progress toward those goals.

What is academic suspension?

If you're on academic suspension, you were previously on academic probation. You earned grades below a C average (2.00) for at least 3 quarters and your cumulative GPA is below 2.0. You meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Students on academic probation move to academic suspension if they earn a quarterly GPA below 2.00 during the quarter they are on academic probation.
  • Students remain on academic suspension status until their cumulative GPA returns to 2.00.

If you're on academic suspension, you are unable to register online and you are restricted to taking 5 credits at a time. We put these restrictions in place because we want to maximize your potential for academic success and help you avoid earning low grades consistently and lowering your cumulative GPA any further. It may take several quarters to significantly improve your cumulative GPA and return to good academic standing.

We encourage you to work closely throughout the quarter with a support program, tutor, advisor, or academic coach. When you are ready to attempt more courses in a given quarter and have built new strategies and habits to support your ability to earn As, Bs, or high C grades each quarter, you may petition to take more than 5 credits.

When and how can I petition?

You can complete a petition to take more than 5 credits prior to the quarter you will be placed on academic suspension, and at any point during your time on academic suspension. Your petition must be submitted by the last deadline (see back of petition for deadlines) prior to the start quarter in which you're hoping to take more than 5 credits. If you miss that final deadline for each quarter, you will be restricted to taking 5 credits.

When reviewing a petition for readiness to attempt more than 5 credits, the review panel is looking for a change in your life circumstances. They want to see that you've resolved whatever has been leading you to earn Ds and Fs consistently. Our goal is to keep you from lowering your GPA any further by earning failing grades. If you've earned Cs or better during your time on academic suspension, that also increases your chances of getting your petition approved.

 When completing the petition itself, we encourage you to do the following:

  • Complete every section of the petition. Include the additional courses you are planning to take. Make sure to work with an advisor or academic coach to determine the classes that will best help you make progress toward your academic and career goals.
  • Be detailed in your personal statement. Discuss the challenges you've faced, how you have overcome them or built new strategies to work with persistent challenges, and name and describe specific strategies you are planning to employ to ensure your academic success. To learn more about academic skills and habits of successful students, review our Study Skills page.
  • Plan ahead. Submit your petition before the deadlines listed on the campus calendar and included on the back of the petition form.
    • Running Start students may turn in their petition materials to the Running Start Office (LDC 134)
    • Transitional Learning Students may turn in their petition materials to the Transitional Learning Office (CAS 167)
    • International Programs students have a separate petition process. Visit International Programs to learn more (SSC 201)
    • All other students may turn in their petition materials to the Front Desk of Laidlaw 116 or email them as attachments to earlyalert@whatcom.edu.

Petition to Take More than 5 Credits (View/Download PDF)

How do I return to good academic standing?

The pathway back to good academic standing will likely involve changing your college-work-life balance, trying out new and better study habits and strategies, and accessing new resources on campus. We encourage you to visit your instructors in office hours, use the Learning Center, and work closely with a specific support program like AIM, BFET, or other advising and coaching staff to set goals, evaluate progress, and develop new strategies for academic success. It may take several quarters to return to good academic standing, but don't give up. All worthy goals take time. WCC faculty and staff believe in you. We look forward to collaborating with you as you make progress toward your academic goals.

We encourage you to review our Study Skills and Habits of Successful Students page and work closely with an academic advisor or coach to develop a strong plan for your academic success as preparation to complete your petition or at any point if you find your current academic habits are not supporting you well.