College and University Blog

Probation and Dismissal: Things that Might Get you Expelled from College

We’ve all heard stories about people that got kicked out of college. You know what I’m talking about, right? The drunken frat guy who took his pranks a little too far one night, or the computer lab assistant that mysteriously “lost” a brand new iMac … which was later found on her desk in her dorm room. Who knows, stories like these might be urban legends that got embellished more and more as they spread around campus, but the truth is, some students really do get kicked out of college. The reasons might not be as exciting—or as funny—as the ones I just mentioned, but it’s probably a wise idea to know the rules regarding probation or dismissal from your college or university.

Wondering what can get you expelled from college? Again, the policies and procedures regarding dismissal from college vary from school to school, but there are a few common reasons that people can be asked—or forced— to leave.

Student Misconduct

The above-mentioned story about a drunken fraternity member getting expelled from school was one that I made up for this blog, but if it were true it would most likely be considered a case of student misconduct. Misconduct is a pretty vague term, but it can include anything from to stealing to vandalism, with a lot of things in between. (Many types of student misconduct are also punishable crimes.)

The student code of conduct at your school should include a detailed list of things that are types of misconduct. The following list is by no means complete, but some examples of student misconduct are:

  • Disruptive or abusive behavior, such as verbal harassment, consistent profanity or vulgarity
  • Physical abuse of another, including assault, battery or rape
  • Intimidation or stalking another member of the college community, including hazing
  • Illegal drug use or underage drinking
  • Vandalism, graffiti, or defacing college or personal property in any other way
  • Possession of weapons on college property


Dishonesty is also a rather indistinct term, but it’s also normally included in the codes of conduct provided by colleges. Some examples of student dishonesty include:

  • Lying to professors or other college officials
  • Cheating on tests or assignments, including plagiarism
  • Citing fake data or results for research experiments; inventing research, data or results for work that was not done; falsely claiming resources not used as a reference
  • Providing false information on applications, financial aid documentation, or other paperwork
  • Forgery, tampering, or misrepresenting yourself
  • Reporting a false emergency to campus officials

Disciplinary Action

If a student is accused of misconduct, dishonesty or any other act that may be require disciplinary action, the college or university usually has a set of procedures in place that must be followed. (In extreme cases— such as the committing of a felony— the student may be immediately expelled from school.)

The accused student will probably go before a student government board or committee for a hearing before punishment is decided; punishment is often a period of probation. These hearings aren’t a joke and they shouldn’t be taken lightly. When I was in college, one of my friends was a member of our student government disciplinary committee; today she’s an attorney.

Academic Probation

Misconduct and dishonesty aren’t the only things that can cause college students grief—poor grades can do the same. You probably know that failing classes and a low GPA can cause you to lose your federal financial aid or your private scholarships, but these things can also cause you to be placed on academic probation … and you’ll possibly be asked to leave the college if things don’t improve.

Academic probation is a trial period in which a student is given a set period of time to improve their failing grades, and probation can also be granted for students to improve their behavior if they are being disciplined for misconduct. If a student’s grades (or behavior) do not improve within the set period of time, they’re usually forced to leave school.

Academic Dismissal

A student can be academically dismissed from college if they fail to make satisfactory progress during their period of probation.

If you’re academically dismissed from college, you might find yourself having trouble enrolling at a new school because your permanent records and transcripts will show the reason that you withdrew from school. Some colleges will accept students that were academically dismissed from prior institutions, but others have strict policies against it.

Students can usually attempt to appeal their school’s decision for academic dismissal. If you decide to do so, the following steps should be kept in mind.

Appealing an Academic Dismissal

  • Make your appeal in person. If you’re given the option to appeal in person or in writing, it’s in your best interest to do so in person. A letter or an email can’t convey emotion as well as speaking out loud.
  • Be honest. If your grades were horrible, explain that you’re well aware of it. If you did something you know you shouldn’t have, let the committee know that you realize you did something stupid. Be honest—your lack of honesty might even be what got you into this situation in the first place.
  • Don’t blame other people for your problems. Claiming that your grades were bad because your roommate snored and you couldn’t study isn’t a good idea. Low grades were your own fault.
  • Be polite. Getting rude or angry in front of the group of people that may decide your fate won’t exactly work in your favor.

This blog only includes a few examples of things that could possibly get you into trouble at college or cause you to get you expelled. You’ll probably receive a detailed booklet from your own school during orientation, or there might be one in your welcome packet once you’ve been accepted. Even the best of us fail a test or receive a bad grade from time to time. Life-altering events happen, too, and sometimes circumstances beyond our control can cause our grades to fail. Just remember that even so, there’s no good excuse to behave poorly, steal, or cheat to get ahead in college. Use your common sense!


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.