Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Student Support and Retention Approaches

April 2, 2021
  • Student Success
  • Academic Advising
  • Financial Aid
  • Financial Aspects of Enrollment Management
male student takes notes as a female instructor overlooks


By Kenneth McGhee, Director of the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG) within the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in Washington, D.C. 

In part one of this series on SAP, published on March 8, 2021, suggestions related to advising students about their academic major were outlined. When assisting students during their SAP appeal process, additional approaches can be taken to promote student retention. 

Skill Enhancement Workshops

Numerous students need enhanced study skills or time management techniques. Referring students to the office on your campus that offers these workshops is a good idea. In some cases, a college sophomore or junior may have gotten off track and the workshops can help them get focused. If your institution has a voluntary or required Introduction to College type course, reviewing the course syllabus should be considered. Study skills and time management being the first two subjects covered would provide the benefit of students having these skills early as they start college. 

Disability Services Office Referral 

It is common for some students to be uncomfortable disclosing they have a disability. A proactive approach is working with parents and high school counselors to outline a transition-to-college plan. Two common recommendations are working to have students advocate for themselves and not taking a full-time class schedule during the first semester in college. Student orientation sessions are a second opportunity to let students know this campus department is available. The SAP appeal process is another time to refer students to the office. 

Maximum Time Frame Appeals

For students who are beyond 150 percent of the attempted credit hours for their degree program, academic advising is important to review the student’s plans. Things to review are:

  • Credit hours needed to graduate

  • Terms needed to graduate

  • Reason the student is beyond the 150 percent rate

  • Total number of developmental/remedial courses attempted

  • Reason for pursuing a second degree of the same type (second associates, second bachelors)  

Job closures in the area, an injury leading to not being able to be in the same industry, or a general career change may be involved. In other cases, students have not obtained or followed academic advising and the SAP process has required a formal review of their record. The appointment with the student can lead to helping to outline a plan to finish up their degree program.



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