Dear Members of the Scholarship and Advising Committee,
My name is xx and I attend University. I am an international student from Pakistan who enrolled here in 2019 as a Computer Engineering major. I thank you for this opportunity and for your time.
I understand that my academic progress for the year of 2020-2021 has not been not up to mark and I take full responsibility for that. I have been placed on academic suspension and I understand the reason behind that and again I take full responsibility for my actions that led up to this point. Firstly, I blame myself for getting such a low GPA and if I tried harder by utilizing the school’s resources wisely then I would have never been put into this predicament. I feel ashamed and disappointed in myself for getting a suspension letter for not being able to maintain a 2.0. These last few semesters have been really difficult for me, it has been mentally and physically exhausting for me. I am writing this appeal letter with the hope to express the importance of my academic future and that I may be given a second chance at my dream of earning a degree from the esteemed University and to outline the steps I plan to take in order to step back onto the path for academic success.
I do not wish to make excuses for my poor academic outcome but I will do my best to explain the circumstances surrounding this drop in performance. The main issue that contributed to my academic conflicts was my financial situation. When I began my semester at the University in the spring of 2020, I was dependent of my family to provide me financial support. Due to the recent and ongoing pandemic caused by COVID-19, me, my studies and my family have been affected and have suffered a lot. My academics were severely affected due to multiple reasons that did stem from the pandemic situation. My father runs a food business which is our main source of income, due to COVID my family not earning as much as they were pre-pandemic and they could not help me out here with matters involving money. And this cut down my family’s source of income by almost 60%. The financial situation also urged me to take a job near campus on the weekdays to support myself to pay for the tuition and my apartment. Even when I was at school, I was very distracted with the financial situation and was unable to focus on my schoolwork The financial situation urged me to take a job on campus on the weekdays and the weekends to support myself to pay for the tuition and my entire rent and food here. Even when I was at school, I was very distracted with the financial situation and was unable to focus on my schoolwork. These responsibilities fell on me and as I am an international student who is only allowed to work 20 hours a week and getting a little over minimum wage, I found it really hard to support myself as I was barely making enough and also trying to manage my classes at the same time. I was terribly unprepared to take on such responsibility at such a young age as when I enrolled I was only seventeen years old and when I moved off campus I quickly fell behind on rent and bills. I hadn’t prepared financially to pay for my expenses through school and was afraid to show my family my failure. I tried for the first few weeks of the semester but it just got too overwhelming and I found it really difficult to afford my rent and my food. This led to increasing mental stress day by day as the professors issued more new assignments while I was catching up with the last ones. During this period, I was late for paying my tuition as we were using family assets and savings to pay for it and there was always a delay and this can be confirmed from Ms. Wendy Dimaio from the student accounts department. Fortunately, my father had money that was supposed to be collected from the food market which has been received now and will be used towards my studies from now onwards. My mother has also been able to obtain a new job to support the family and me. In a result of this I will not be working any part time job and will be focusing on my studies and my classes. I have talked to my parents regarding my situation at the University and they have agreed to support me financially.
I also have not been back to my country ever since I came here, and not being able to see my family did not help in any way resulting in me being extremely homesick. My mother suffers from hypertension and she is diabetic and has blood pressure issues and because of me not being able to go attend to her and take care of her, this was a constant mental stress for me all throughout the year. I also could not share any of my problems with her due to her condition, and here I had no one whom I could talk to or explain my problems to. When covid started I was forced to be in quarantine by myself from end of March, all the way to late august, and not being able to talk to anyone or to have any interaction anyone made me fall into depression as my problems kept on piling up on me with no one or no way for me to let it out or solve them. As the school year went on, I slowly began retracting myself from society and the people I loved. As the semester progressed I found it extremely difficult to even get out of bed in the morning let alone concentrate on my studies. My attendance began to drop significantly and consequently so did my grades. I felt like a failure and hid my depression from my family. In addition, I was too embarrassed to reach out to my professors to ask for help or guidance. During this time, I gained a significant amount of weight, began losing contact with my close friends and had little to no interest in any sort of self-improvement. I seeked out the school therapist regarding my situation as my mental health really deteriorated along with extremely severe depression and lack of self-confidence, which affected my physical health as well. Having no classmates whom I was comfortable with or friends with also did not help in this situation. My mother is now doing better and I have become more comfortable being away from home. My family has been supporting me now and with the help of a school therapist I am on the path to overcome these problems and feeling better and being more focused towards my studies.
As for my studies I found engineering extremely challenging and as the American education system is entirely different from the education system in Pakistan, I found it really hard to fit in and to adjust to the extreme amount of workload that was being assigned to me. And as my native language is Urdu, writing essays in English is not one of my strong talents, and much of my courses during this time were writing intensive courses or had a lot of reading and writing included with them which overwhelmed me. I found time management to be my major issue as I could not make enough time to study and to work and to complete all my assignments. Now I have been familiarized with the college education system and as to what is expected of me from my professors, I will also be switching to a computer science as my major as I am sure I have a definite interest in that and I will be able to excel in this major. I will be working with Assistant Dean as to how I can transfer my credits earned as a Computer engineer towards my computer science degree and I shall be forming a plan which will outline the courses I will take and how I would catch up to the required GPA.
During spring semester of 2021 I got extremely sick because my housemate somehow got COVID, and that led me to be really sick, and as I am by myself I had no one to help me take care of myself. I had extreme headaches, my whole body was sore, I couldn’t get out of bed, I had a sore throat, and a high fever. And as I have no means of transportation I found it difficult to even go see the school’s health center.
I love Valparaiso University and I have been given the opportunity to study at such a prestigious school and it would mean the world to me if I can successfully graduate from this university as I would be the first in my family to complete a college degree from a university like this. Please understand my low GPA does not indicate that I am a bad student, really I am a good student who just had a lot on his plate and couldn’t handle it very well. I was the top 1% of my graduating class of my high school and I achieved top grades in my CIE O-level and A-level exams which led me to earn the scholarship that I got here, which is the only reason I am here. I now recognize that I was provided with an excellent opportunity to obtain an education at a highly esteemed university but due to my ignorance, indiscipline, lack of time management and personal issues my performance was not up to the mark. Since then, I am working towards overcoming my personal obstacles and growing both as a person and as a student.
I realize now that my laxness, along with not attending classes and refusing the numerous resources available to help students did the most to lower my performance academically and lower my overall GPA. Oftentimes I would ignore office hours and decide to do poorly on concepts I didn’t understand instead of seeking help in understanding the topics. I am also a shy and introverted person so reaching out to others for help felt like a really difficult task and I was always afraid of being judged. Alongside all that, my study habits left much to be desired for any standard college student. Taking these mistakes in stride I have a plan that I truly believe will allow me to be successful in this upcoming semester. I have made it a point to be punctual, attentive and most of all driven, so I can correct the mistakes I have made and continue my path for the future. I believe that following this plan will not only lead to more opportunities in the future but allow me to raise both my GPA and my expectations moving forward. My plan to overcome these hurdles that I am facing in my education is to make sure I am attending classes regularly no matter what. My top priority will be studying and doing my homework. I will minimize or remove distractions such as my commitment to the VU soccer club, spending excessive time at the gym and working any type of job. I will be submitting the assignments on time. Stopping by my academic advisor two times every week and making sure everything is in check. My counselor will provide information to my parents every week about my performance in class. Regular study sessions with the assigned TA’s (teacher assistants) for homework for every class. Making use of the academic success center for additional tutoring for homework and classes. Communicating to professors and asking for help. Professors communicate to parents about performance in class. Professors communicate to academic counselors about performance in class. I have no objection that my counselor will provide all the information to my parents every week about my performance in class. I will be communicating with my professors and the advising staff to make sure I understand what is expected of me. Regarding my issue of time management, I will be using an academic planner or google calendar and other online scheduling tools to make sure I am giving ample time to all of my classes and to use my time wisely and efficiently and to restrict procrastination as well as a more solid and earnest work ethic. I have also learned that communication is a big part of being successful, whether it be communicating with my professors, counselors or with the people around me. I thought I could handle all the burdens by myself, but I was wrong. I understand now that I should not avoid my professors and TA’s, and talk to them earlier on in the school year if I’m struggling with my grades or personal issues.
Again I thank the Scholarship and Advising Committee for this chance. Looking back on my actions that resulted in my academic suspension I feel nothing but shame and regret knowing that it is no one’s fault but my own, however every mistake is a learning experience and I am hopeful I can show exactly what I’ve learned from this and I look forward to being back on the course to success. In the end I would just like to say that making mistakes is human nature and this suspension has been a wakeup call for me to get my affairs in order. Please understand that my low GPA that led to my suspension does not indicate that I am a poor student. Other than the in-class activities for the courses, I have good grades in the other aspects of the course work which I submitted. I have improved grades on three courses compared to my previous semester. I just need an another opportunity to show my true potential now that my financial burdens are solved. I have taken many steps to ensure my success for going forward with my studies and pursue my dream of receiving an undergraduate degree from the University. I hope you will give me a second chance. Thank you for considering this appeal.