Academic Information

Academic Forgiveness

Retroactive Academic Forgiveness
A student attending Helena College seeking his or her first undergraduate degree, who either left the college or stopped attending classes for extenuating circumstances without an official withdrawal during the term of departure, may apply for a Retroactive Academic Forgiveness. The student must present supporting documentation that demonstrates serious and compelling reasons justifying the withdrawal and extenuating circumstances justifying its retroactive nature; poor academic performance attributed to extenuating circumstances shall constitute consideration for retroactive withdrawal. A student may appeal for Retroactive Academic Forgiveness only once, and must not have attended any other college or university during the elapsed period since the semester in question.

Procedure:

  1. Provide a written statement that outlines the nature of your request for Retroactive Academic Forgiveness and the reasons you believe your appeal merits approval.
  2. Submit a letter(s) of support from an academic administrator, faculty member, advisor or other College professional who is familiar with your situation. If the extenuating circumstance involves medical reasons, it is not necessary for the letter(s) of support to contain details of the medical condition.
  3. Submit the completed form and required documentation to Associate Dean of Academics for approval.
  4. If approved, the form and documentation will be forwarded to the institutional Registrar for completion of the process. Retroactive Academic Forgiveness will result in all credits and grades earned during the semester in question being excluded from the student’s GPA calculation; a student will not be allowed to select specific courses or credits for exclusion. The excluded courses and original grades earned will remain listed on the transcript; however they may not be used to fulfill any Helena College requirements toward attainment of a credential or degree.

Academic Integrity

Helena College expects its students to adhere to a high standard of academic integrity. It is a violation of academic integrity to present the ideas, designs, or works of another person as one’s own efforts or to permit another person to do so. The following guidelines are intended to clarify these issues for students, faculty, and administration.

The College will regard the following acts as violations of academic integrity constituting academic dishonesty:

Plagiarism - A student will be considered in violation of academic integrity if he or she submits an assignment, whether written, oral, graphic, or computer-generated, which consists wholly or partially of the words, work, or ideas of another individual without giving the original author proper credit.

Copying - A student will be considered in violation of academic integrity if he or she uses crib notes, cheat sheets, books, or any other material or electronic device as aids in an examination or any other graded exercise, unless the instructor of the class has given permission to use such materials. Collaboration with another student on an examination or other graded exercise, unless the instructor has given permission, also constitutes copying.

Contributing to Academic Dishonesty - A student will be considered in violation of academic integrity if he or she willfully assists another student in an act of academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Academic sanctions for a first violation are at the discretion of the instructor and range from a failing grade for the particular instance to a failing grade in the course in which academic dishonesty occurs. When a faculty member assigns a failing course grade on the basis of academic dishonesty, he or she shall assign a grade of “FX.” The student may petition the Registrar’s office by letter to remove only the “X” portion of the grade after successfully completing an ethics course with a grade of “B” or better from any accredited college within three academic years of the original failure. Retaking the failed course does not remove the “F” or “FX” designation from the transcript. A student may not represent the College in any official manner nor hold a student government office with an “FX” grade.

Faculty must report all violations of academic integrity to the student involved, the appropriate Division Chair(s), and to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs; in cases of repeated offenses, the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs will recommend disciplinary sanctions that may result in expulsion from the College. Students retain their right to due process and may refer to the Student Handbook or the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs regarding any disciplinary sanctions.

Class Attendance/Absence

Students are expected to attend all class meetings and complete all assignments for courses in which they are enrolled. Instructors may excuse brief and occasional absences for reasons of illness, injury, family emergency, religious observance or participation in a College sponsored activity. (College sponsored activities may include required course field trips, SGAHC service, or other institutionally supported service.)

Instructors must excuse absences for the following reasons: military service, mandatory public service (court appearance, jury duty), emergency medical attention of self or immediate family member and/or death of immediate family member. To petition for an excused absence, the student must provide the necessary documents no later than 5 days following the absence to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs for review. If the absence is found excusable, the faculty will permit the student to submit any missed work in a reasonable and agreed upon time frame and without penalty.

Instructors may establish absence policies to conform to the educational goals and requirements of their courses. Such policies will be set out in the course syllabus. Customarily, the course syllabi will describe the procedures for giving timely notice of absences, explain how work missed because of an excused absence may be made up, and stipulate any penalty to be assessed for absences.

Helena College encourages the faculty to accommodate students incurring an excused absence by allowing them to make up missed work when this can be done in a manner consistent with the educational goals of their courses. Students expecting to incur excused absences should consult with their instructors early in the term to be sure that they understand the absence policies for each of their courses.

Students Called to or Volunteered For Active Duty

Service members called to or volunteering for active duty missions will be granted the following:

  1. If the student meets ¾ of the term, they will receive their grade as it stands at the ¾ mark.
  2. If the student does not reach the ¾ point of the term, they will be backdated out of the term and all tuition assistance paid will be reimbursed to the entity that paid it.
  3. Upon return from active duty, the student will be able to continue with their degree pursuit as if they had never left the institution.

Audit

With the consent of the instructor, a student may enroll in a course for no credit (audit). Auditing students pay the same fee as students enrolled for credit. Auditors are not expected to complete course work as students who are enrolled for credit, nor will they take tests. Audit enrollments will not count toward financial aid or degree completion requirements. Students must inform the Registrar’s office within the first 15 instructional days of the course.

Challenging a Course for Credit

A student who has completed course work through prior learning or non-accredited learning experiences has the option of earning college credit by challenging designated courses. The challenge must be completed within the first 10 instructional days if the course can be challenged. It is important to note that not all courses can be challenged. The instructor will determine if the student’s previous course work and/or experience supports the challenge request. The request must be approved by the Division Chair or a full-time faculty member and then validated through the Registrar’s office. The exam must be completed with a grade of “B” or higher in order to receive credits for the course. A grade of “CH” will be placed on the student’s transcripts with successful completion of the examination. The grade received for the challenge does not affect the student’s GPA. A student receiving a grade of “F,” “NP,” or “W” in a class at the College may not subsequently challenge the course. A $25 per credit fee will be charged for the challenge exam. Challenged credits will not count towards financial aid. A student cannot challenge more than 25% of the credits required for his or her degree.

Course Substitutions

Students are required to complete all program courses in order to be awarded their degree or certificate. Helena College does allow course substitutions when there is a compelling reason to do so. A course substitution must uphold the integrity of the degree. For more information on the procedure for substituting a course, students should see the Registrar’s office or their faculty advisor.

Dean’s List

To qualify for the Dean’s List, the student must earn a semester GPA of 3.5 or higher while earning 12 or more semester credits. (P/NP and developmental class credits are not included as earned credits for purposes of determining Dean’s List standing.) Grades of “D,” “F,” or “NP” are not allowed. The student and his/her hometown newspaper will receive written notification of the award, and it will appear on his/her transcript for that term.

Drop/Add Classes

Students registered for fall or spring semesters and attending classes may drop or add classes during the first 15 instructional days of the semester. The student must initiate the drop/add process which can be done online for the first five days for adding classes and for the first 15 days for dropping classes. After the online drop/add window has passed, a Drop/Add form must be completed and returned to the cashier along with a $10 processing fee. If a student drops a class AFTER the first 15 days and prior to three weeks before the end of the course, a “W” (withdraw) will be given. Students cannot drop a class during the last three weeks of the semester and will receive a letter grade from the instructor based on coursework completed. Drop/adds are not used to withdraw completely from the College. Drop/adds for summer semester courses are computed on the same ratio stated above for hours attended to total course hours; the registration guide outlines summer deadlines.

Evening/Saturday Classes

A variety of late afternoon and evening classes are offered based upon the needs of the community and Helena College students. These classes are available after 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Applicants interested in classes may contact the Helena College Welcome Center.

Grades and Grade Point Averages (GPA)

Student evaluation is reported at the end of each semester. Students may access their final grades online through “MyHC.” A student’s level of academic performance is determined through the calculation of a grade point average (GPA). The grade-point average is determined by dividing total grade points earned by the number of credits carried. Students may access their grades and GPA through “MyHC” on the Helena College website. The meaning of each grade and its value in grade points is as follows:

Grade Quality of Work Grade Points
A Excellent 4.00
A- 3.67
B+ 3.33
B Above Average 3.00
B- 2.67
C+ 2.33
C Average 2.00*
C- 1.67*
D+ 1.33
D Passing 1.00
D- 0.67
F Failing 0
FR Failing/Remedial 0
NF Never Attended 0
FX Failing (Academic Dishonesty) 0
AUD Audit N/A
EC Credit by Exam (AP/CLEP) N/A
I Incomplete N/A
MG Missing Grade N/A
NP No Pass N/A
CH Challenge/Pass N/A
P Pass N/A
R Following a Traditional Grade N/A*
TP Tech Prep N/A
TR Transfer Course N/A
R Retake N/A
SL Service Learning N/A
W Withdraw N/A

*A “R” following a traditional grade is used for courses numbered below 100 level. These courses are not counted in the GPA.

In order to graduate, students must:

  1. Earn a minimum grade of “C-” in each class used to meet the prerequisites or program requirements and
  2. Maintain either:
    1. a minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA (for students seeking Associate of Applied Science Degrees) or
    2. a minimum 2.25 GP A (for students seeking Associates of Arts or Associate of Science Degrees) or
    3. a minimum 2.5 GPA (for students seeking an Associate of Applied Science or an Associate of Science in Nursing)

Final Course Grade Appeal

Every student has the right to appeal the final grade in a course, in accordance with the stipulations outlined below. Such an appeal must be initiated by the student or the student’s agent/representative, who has been identified in writing, no later than commencement of the subsequent semester. Spring grades will normally be appealed in the following fall semester. The initiating student should begin with the INFORMAL process outlined in Section A and then may pursue the FORMAL process in Section B if satisfaction is not obtained informally. Once a formal appeal has been initiated, the process will conclude within two weeks whenever possible.

SECTION A
Preliminary Procedure:
Student initiated INFORMAL Process

  1. Discuss the matter with his/her instructor. Clerical errors are usually handled in this manner, with the instructor signing the correction of official records. If the student believes the problem is not resolved, the student shall then;
  2. Visit with the division chair who supervises faculty teaching the course to discuss the issue. If the concern still remains unresolved, the student may;
  3. Elect to file a formal written Grade Appeal with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. The Associate Dean records the official filing of the appeal and then refers it to the Peer Review Committee. A formal Grade Appeal may not be filed until steps 1 and 2 above have been completed. It is recommended that students present documentation that may shed light on the appeal.

SECTION B
FORMAL PROCESS
Conditions under which grade may be appealed:

  1. If there is a dispute over the numerical calculation of the grade OR
  2. If the grade assigned appears arbitrary or capricious or inconsistent with syllabus assessment/grading policy.

Faculty Peer Review Committee
Upon receipt of a student’s written Grade Appeal, the Associate Dean of Academics shall then convene a hearing of the Peer Review Committee. The committee will be formed adhoc and consist of:

  1. A division chairperson from OUTSIDE of the division where the course is offered. This chairperson is non-voting and serves only to facilitate the process.
  2. Four faculty members who shall be selected by the Associate Dean of Academics, with two from the Airport Campus and two from the Donaldson Campus.
  3. The student who has filed the appeal must be in attendance or else waive his/her right to attend the meeting in writing prior to its being scheduled.
  4. The involved faculty member may attend or send written comments at her/his discretion.
  5. The institutional Registrar may be invited to provide information or as a committee resource.

The purpose of the Peer Review Committee is to determine whether or not the grade should be changed. If the Peer Review Committee finds that the grade assigned was miscalculated, or appears arbitrary or capricious or inconsistent with syllabus and assessment/grading policy, the Committee shall make a recommendation as to the appropriate grade to the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs who will have final decision authority.

Assignment Grade Dispute
Every student has the right to appeal a grade while the course is in progress, in accordance with the stipulations outlined below. Such an appeal must be initiated by the student no later than TEN working days after the assignment grade in question is delivered or posted. It is important to note there is NO FORMAL PROCESS for appealing a grade while the course is in progress.

SECTION A
Student initiated – INFORMAL Process

  1. Discuss the matter with his/her instructor. Clerical errors are usually handled in this manner, with the instructor signing the correction of official records. If the student believes the problem is not resolved, the student shall then;
  2. Visit with the division chair who supervises faculty teaching the course to discuss the issue. If the concern still remains unresolved, the student must wait to;
  3. File a formal written Grade Appeal with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs according to the process outlined above AFTER the final grade for the course has been posted. It is recommended that students present documentation that may shed light on the appeal.

Graduation

In accordance with Montana Board of Regents Policy 301.5.3, students must earn a “C-” or higher in all classes that are used to satisfy the prerequisites or requirements for a major, minor, option, or certificate. Although credit is earned for a “D” grade, that course will not count towards graduation.

In the semester before a student plans to graduate, a student must meet with his or her advisor and submit an Application for Certificate or Degree to the Registrar’s office. The Registrar has final authority on the approval of graduation applications.

Students neglecting to submit an Application for Certificate or Degree will not be awarded a certificate or degree. Any student applying for a certificate or degree must pay a $25 fee. If applying for more than one certificate or degree, a fee is required for each application. Certificates and diplomas will be withheld if a student owes a debt to the College.

Students will be awarded a certificate or degree upon satisfactory completion of the program requirements. Half of the coursework required for the degree must be completed at Helena College University of Montana.

A graduation ceremony is held every May. Fall and spring graduates of the corresponding year are invited to attend the ceremony. Summer graduates may attend the corresponding spring graduation. Caps, gowns, and announcements are available through the Bookstore.

Catalog Governing Graduation

A student’s governing catalog is the Helena College catalog in effect at the time of initial enrollment as a degree-seeking student as long as the student has been continually enrolled. A student may also elect to graduate from any subsequent catalog. If a student is absent for one or more semesters, the catalog in effect at the time of readmission governs the student’s graduation requirements. Students must complete all program requirements within six years of enrolling. Students who have not completed requirements in six years will be advised into the catalog in use at the time of graduation.

In case of changes in the student’s program, Helena College reserves the right to determine appropriate substitutions. If a program is eliminated, Helena College will determine an appropriate phase-out process for current students.

Graduation Honors

Calculation for academic honors is the student’s cumulative GPA at the end of the semester prior to commencement for announcement purposes. The final and official honors distinction will be made after all grades have been submitted and calculated by the Registrar. The official honors distinction will be stated on official transcripts and diploma. The honors classifications are identified below:
3.90 - 4.0 Summa Cum Laude
3.75 - 3.89 Magna Cum Laude
3.50 - 3.74 Cum Laude

Incomplete

An incomplete (“I”) grade may be given with the approval of the Registrar’s office when, in the opinion of the instructor, there is a reasonable probability that students can complete the course without retaking it and without instructor participation. The incomplete grade is not an option to be exercised at the discretion of the student and is given only in cases of extreme personal hardship or unusual academic situations.

Eligibility for an incomplete is determined within the following guidelines:

  1. An incomplete may be assigned to a student when he/she has been in attendance and doing passing work up to three weeks before the end of the course, and for reasons beyond his or her control, or he/she has been unable to complete the requirements on time. Negligence, indifference, or excessive absences are not acceptable reasons.
  2. The instructor will set the conditions for completion of the coursework. When these conditions have been met, the instructor will assign a grade based upon an evaluation of the total work done by the student in the course.
  3. An incomplete (“I”) which is not made up during the next regularly scheduled semester will automatically convert to a grade of “F.”

Outdated Coursework

In accordance with Board of Regents Policy 301.5.2, Helena College uses the following guidelines for evaluating previous coursework taken at Helena College:

  • Courses specific to a program of study are guaranteed for evaluation within five years.
  • Courses used for general education requirements are guaranteed for evaluation within 15 years.
  • Courses used for elective credits are guaranteed for evaluation within 15 years.

Coursework that falls outside of the stated periods is not guaranteed for evaluation/graduation. It is the discretion of the individual program to review coursework older than the above guidelines. Students who have outdated coursework are encouraged to speak with their faculty advisor.

Pass/No Pass

Student Option: Students who might venture into courses where they may otherwise hesitate because of uncertainty regarding their aptitude or preparation, may enroll in certain courses on a pass/no pass basis. An instructor may indicate that a particular course is not available under the pass/no pass option.

No more than six pass/no pass credits may be counted toward program completion. The pass/no pass option does not extend to courses required by the student’s program or program option, except at the discretion of the departments concerned. Courses numbered below 100 are not calculated in the pass/no pass limit or toward program completion.

The grades of pass/no pass are not formally defined in terms of their relationship to the traditional grades of A, B, C, D, F; a “P” is given for work considered to be passing and therefore deserving credit, and an “NP” for work not passed. “P” and “NP” grades do not affect grade point average.

Election of the pass/no pass option must be indicated at registration time on the registration form. After registration, but prior to the end of the 15th day of instruction, a student may change the grading option from pass/no pass to traditional (A - F) grading, or vice versa, by submitting a drop/add form.

The College cautions students that many schools and some employers do not recognize non-traditional grades (i.e., those other than A, B, C, D, F) or may discriminate against students who use the pass/no pass option.

Faculty Option: A department may elect to offer an entire class on a pass/no pass basis. This method of grading is used in courses where more precise grading is inappropriate.

Repeating a Course

Students may retake a course to improve their grade by registering and paying tuition and fees for the course. They must submit a Request to Change Grade for Repeated Courses form to the Registrar’s office upon completion of the course. The letter grade for the repeated course will be posted to the student’s transcript and the previous grade will be replaced with an “R” to indicate that the course was retaken. A grade of “R” is not calculated into GPA.

A student’s academic standing (Dean’s list, probation, suspension, etc.), cannot be retroactively changed by retaking classes.

Scholastic Requirements

Academic Probation: Students will be placed on academic probation, or continued probation, at the end of any term (including summer session) if their cumulative GPA drops below or remains below 2.00.

Students on academic/continued probation should contact their advisor, the Student Support Center personnel, and/or a faculty member who might provide guidance, advice, or academic assistance. The Student Handbook contains a list of services available to enrolled students at Helena College.

An “Academic Probation” notation will be posted to a student’s permanent Helena College academic record.

Students placed on academic probation must show satisfactory academic progress - i.e. earn a 2.00 term GPA - during their next term of enrollment (including summer) or face academic suspension. Students who raise their cumulative GPA to the minimum 2.00 will be removed from “probationary status” and in most cases enrollment restrictions will be lifted.

Students placed on academic probation will be notified of their status in writing within a reasonable time following the end of the term. Notification will explain enrollment limitations and conditions and warn students of consequences if they fail to improve their scholastic performance during future terms of enrollment.

Academic Suspension: Students will be academically suspended at the end of any semester if they were placed on academic probation in their last semester of attendance and they failed to earn a term GPA of 2.00.

Students placed on academic suspension status may not enroll at Helena College during the next semester (fall or spring, whichever applies) nor summer session if a student is suspended at the end of spring semester. That is, a student who has been academically suspended from Helena College for the first time must “sit out” one regular semester, plus summer session, if a student is suspended at the end of spring semester.

An “Academic Suspension” notation is posted to a student’s permanent Helena College academic record.

Students who are suspended for academic reasons will be informed of their status in writing as soon as possible following the end of the term. Any/all future enrollments (future class schedules that exist in Helena College’s computer system through pre-registration prior to the end of the term in question) of academically suspended students will be canceled. Written notification of academic suspension will explain options available to the suspended student.

Readmission Following Suspension: Students who are suspended for academic reasons must apply for readmission to Helena College.

Students who seek readmission after “sitting out” the required suspension period must submit:

  1. A properly completed Application form;
  2. A letter that acknowledges the reasons the student did poorly and steps taken to improve the student’s ability to perform; and
  3. An Application for Reinstatement After Academic Suspension form.

The application and letter will be reviewed by a committee. Students reinstated after suspension will be assigned an advisor and follow a strict academic plan.

Withdrawal

Withdrawal from the College is the student’s responsibility. In order to withdraw from all classes, a student must meet with a representative of the Student Support Center and complete the withdrawal form. The form must be completed, signed by the student, and collected by the Student Support Center. If a student withdraws from the College after the first 15 instructional days and prior to three weeks before the end of the course, a “W” (withdraw) will be assigned. During the last three weeks of the semester, a student may not officially withdraw and will receive a letter grade from the instructor based on an evaluation of the total work done by the student in the course. Withdrawal from a course in which the student has received an “FX” for academic dishonesty is not permitted. It is important to note that a complete withdrawal cannot be done online, but can be done via the telephone.

Retroactive Withdrawal

After a term has ended, a student who left the college for extenuating circumstances without an official withdrawal during the term of departure, may apply for a Retroactive Withdrawal. The student must present supporting documentation that demonstrates serious and compelling reasons justifying the withdrawal and extenuating circumstances justifying its retroactive nature; poor academic performance attributed to extenuating circumstances shall constitute consideration for retroactive withdrawal. A student may appeal for retroactive withdrawal within one calendar year following the end of the term for which withdrawal is requested. A student need not be enrolled at Helena College at the time the application for retroactive withdrawal is submitted.

PROCEDURE:

  1. Provide a written statement that outlines the nature of your request for a Retroactive Withdrawal and the reasons you believe your appeal merits approval.
  2. Submit a letter(s) of support from an academic administrator, faculty member, advisor, or other college professional who is familiar with your situation. If the extenuating circumstance involves medical reasons, it is not necessary for the letter(s) of support to contain details of the medical condition.
  3. Submit the completed form and required documentation to Associate Dean of Academic Affairs.