CAP End of Term Advice for Advisors

Advisors play crucial roles in the Committee on Academic Performance’s review of students who have not met MIT’s academic standards. Advisors contribute to departmental review, which recommends action to the CAP’s Grades Meeting. Where information is lacking, or Required Academic Leave is being considered, the advisor represents the student at the Deferred Action Meeting as well as helping the student write a statement and connect with resources. After the end of term, advisors are asked to keep in close contact with students for whom Warning has been voted. You are also welcome to keep in contact with students voted a Required Academic Leave.

At the end of each term please remain available to your undergraduate academic administrator until you know whether you have an advisee who has failed to meet minimum standards. 

The CAP Administrator stands ready to consult on all aspects of your involvement with the End of Term Review: phone 617-253-4164 or email

Departmental Review

Your Undergraduate Administrator receives a list from the Registrar’s Office after most grades have been recorded. This Term Summary flags students in your department who have either passed fewer than 36 units or compiled a rating (GPA) of 3.0 or below in the current term. 

The Undergraduate Administrator will ask you to share what you know about the reasons for the student’s unsatisfactory performance and what response you think would best help the student improve performance—no CAP action, Departmental Warning, CAP Warning, or Required Academic Leave. A struggling student may have avoided contact with you through the term; now is the time to remind such students that you can advocate for them only if you fully understand their situation. 

Once this information is gathered for all below-minimum students, your department will decide its recommendations, whether in a formal meeting with advisors or a committee, or informally between administrator and Faculty Undergraduate Officer. If you are not at the meeting, you should be notified of the final departmental recommendation.

Grades Meetings

Each department appears separately at a CAP Grades Meeting to review its undergraduate records below the minimum standards. The Faculty Undergraduate Officer and Academic Administrator present the department’s recommendation for each student, answer questions from the Committee, and record the Committee’s decision—no CAP action (which usually implies Departmental Warning), CAP Warning, or Deferred Action. The Committee carefully considers department recommendations, but reserves the right to vote as it sees fit. 

You and your advisee will be notified by email and letter of the CAP’s decision. The Committee urges you to interpret the vote with your advisee and discuss plans for improving future performance. 

Deferred Action Meetings

You will be asked to represent your advisee during a five-minute appointment at a Deferred Action Meeting, in one of two cases:

  • not enough information was available at the Grades Meeting for the CAP to decide on Warning or No Action (Soft Deferral);
  • The CAP is considering Required Academic Leave (Hard Deferral).

Soon after the CAP votes Deferred Action for your advisee, the CAP Administrator will contact you to set an appointment. These meetings, run on two consecutive days – see Academic Calendar for precise dates. The meeting dates cannot be changed. If you cannot appear, please find a Faculty colleague in your department who can speak for you and the student.

You and your advisee are each invited to submit a written statement for consideration at the meeting:

  • Please contact the student promptly to offer consultation on her or his statement.
  • You will receive a one-page questionnaire from the Staff Associate. 

Please make sure that both your questionnaire and the student’s statement are submitted to no later than two days before the Deferred Action Meeting. The exact date will be in the student’s notification letter. 

At the Deferred Action Meetings the nine-member Committee is joined by seven ex officio members and invited resource staff. These representatives of various offices help the Committee understand the situations of students whose records are being reviewed. While you may feel intimidated appearing before so many people, please understand that they all share your hope and concern that your advisee will get back on track to finishing a degree in a timely manner. Be prepared to state your recommendation, back it up with concise information, and answer questions from Committee members. The CAP, on behalf of the Faculty, is grateful for your extra efforts in such cases. 

After the CAP Vote

Students on Academic Warning will benefit from your closer attention in the following term. The CAP also encourages you to stay in touch with students on Required Academic Leave.

Students on Warning

The Committee urges students on Warning to meet with you regularly on the following schedule:

  • Before Registration Day, to discuss a range of subjects that the student can realistically do well in (within the Credit Limit). 
  • Face-to-face in the second full week of the term, to decide whether registration needs to be adjusted.
  • Weekly contact, in person or by email or phone, whether the news is success or challenge. 
  • In person at midterm to discuss a possible drop if the student is struggling in one subject or to reinforce the arc of improvement. 
  • Weekly contact until grades appear.
  • Then face-to-face one more time to celebrate or plan next steps, depending on the record. 

The CAP Administrator will contact you and the student near the beginning and midpoint of the term, pointing to resources for improvement and offering support.

Students Voted a Required Academic Leave

The Committee urges students required to take a year’s academic leave to meet with with you and with a dean before they leave campus, to discuss the Institute’s expectations for their time away and preparation for return. It may be helpful for you and such a student to discuss the following advising issues:

  • What the student has learned from the process of CAP review
  • How s/he plans to spend the time away, including possible coursework at another institution: what courses would be helpful for the major or other requirements? Might transfer credit be possible?
  • How s/he hopes to solve the problems that led to Required Academic Leave.

You may continue to communicate with a student on Required Academic Leave—see the statement on Community Involvement While On Leave—and you will be asked to comment on such a student’s Request to Return.