If you believe that you will not meet the requirements to clear Academic Probation by the end of your probationary term, you may submit a “Continue on Probation” (COP) letter to the Dismissal Review Committee to request consideration to be continued on academic probation for an additional semester. If you have not already done so, it may be helpful to review the following pages to understand the context of this letter:
The COP letter is an opportunity for you to provide additional information as to why you were unable to clear academic probation this semester, the actions you have taken to address the underlying factors that have impacted your academics and improve your GPA, and steps you would take if granted an additional semester to clear academic probation.
COP letters are not required but serve as an opportunity for you to provide your personal narrative. Your submission helps the committee decide whether or not to continue you on probation.
A Continue On Probation (COP) letter should include:
Why you were unable to clear probation, including any exceptional circumstances outside of your control
Any pertinent issues you have not previously shared with an L&S College Adviser
Steps you have taken to clear Academic Probation, including resources used
What you would do to clear Academic Probation if granted another term
Courses you plan to enroll in if continued on probation for an additional semester
If you have senior standing (90 or more units), attach a program plan signed by your Undergraduate Major Adviser (UMA) or the adviser of your intended major
Fall 2020 Continue on Probation letters are due Tuesday, December 22nd by 11:59 pm. The letter can be submitted via this Google form. If you are Subject to Dismissal, your letter will be reviewed as part of the Dismissal Review process (see our Academic Probation page for more information).
COP Letter: Structure (SAMPLE)
Dear Dismissal Review Committee:
First, outline when you started to struggle academically at UC Berkeley and why. It is fine to give a brief overview, especially if this took place over a long period of time. This first part will explain why you first ended up on Academic Probation.
Next, discuss what happened this past semester that led you to not clear academic probation. You may have done well academically, but not have reached the grades needed to fully raise your GPA to a 2.0. If that is the case, you can explain what you did differently this past semester and what you have learned from that that you will take into next semester. More commonly, you will have received grades in this past semester you are unhappy with. Discuss what challenges you faced this semester. What did you learn from your experience this semester? What would you have done differently? If your grades are mixed, discuss the differences between the classes you did well in versus the classes you received low grades in.
Lastly, the key part of your letter that many students forget: explain why next semester will be different if you are allowed to continue into another semester on Academic Probation. This may include changes to your academic plan, resources you plan to access, changes to the obstacles you have been experiencing, or whatever you feel is honest. Remember that if you are Continued on Probation (COP), your COP terms may hold you to plans you outline here, so make sure to include only plans you truly feel would help and are realistic If you are very close to graduation, you will want to explain that here and will want to include an academic plan (this may be outlined in letter or attached). While your instinct may be to fill this section with hardships you will face if not allowed to continue, the review committee cannot take non-academic hardships into consideration. This section is best focused on a logical argument for how things can change next semester.
COP Letter: Length
COP letters are limited to 3,000 characters. Keep in mind that the most important thing for the committee to understand is what challenges you have identified as obstacles and any changes that can be expected next semester, whether that is a change in the obstacle itself or a change in how you are approaching the obstacle.
COP Letter: Challenges and Resources
In addition to helping the review committee understand aspects of your experience that your academic record alone cannot communicate, the process of writing a COP letter might be the first time you have stopped to examine why you have struggled academically. Alternatively, you may know well why you are struggling, but be unsure of what resources are available to help you overcome your challenges.
COP Letter: Chances
A common question students ask regarding COP letter is, “What are my chances?” or “How often do students get continued on probation?”
Each case is truly assessed individually. The chances of being dismissed are higher if your GPA is significantly below a 2.0, if your grades have been on a downward trend, or if you are struggling significantly in your major direction without plans to change. Your COP letter is a chance to add your voice to the decision and COP letters have changed the way a decision might have otherwise gone.
It is important, though, to know that even if you follow all of the advice and tips on this page, it does not necessarily mean your chances of being continued on probation will be improved. This page is meant to provide insight on what kind of information is useful to present and to help you understand how to present it.
Remember that it is better to be honest and be dismissed than present something you think the committee will want to hear only to get trapped on a path you do not want to be on. For example, if you spent your first year struggling in your intended major direction and are not ready to give up trying to succeed in that major, you could use your terms away to work on your study skills for your intended major at a community college and show readiness to continue in that direction when you return. On the other hand, if your COP letter outlined a plan to change your major direction, you could be continued but restricted from a schedule that would allow you to pursue that major direction.
COP Letter: Taking a Break from Cal
Sometimes when students write a COP letter, they realize that the best option for their situation is to take a break from attending school or at least from attending school at UC Berkeley. We have found that timing is one of the most important factors in a student experiencing academic success. If that is your conclusion, it can still be worth putting that into your COP letter and submitting it anyway. If you are approved to continue on probation, this would mean you can take a break and return on probation. If you are dismissed, you would need to take extra steps before returning to Cal. Read more relevant information on the following pages: