2015-16 Virginia Western Academic Catalog 
    May 26, 2024  
2015-16 Virginia Western Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Academic Policies

I-12: General Admissions Policy

Policy Number: I-12
Last Reviewed: February 25, 2016
Responsible Dept.: Dean of Student Services

In accordance with VCCS Policy 6.0.1, individuals are eligible for admission to Virginia Western Community College if they are high school graduates or the equivalent, or if they are eighteen years of age or older and able to benefit academically from study at the community college, as demonstrated by assessment in reading, writing, and mathematics. Minimum scores are noted in the chart below:

Reading ENF 1 35
Writing ENF 1 35
Mathematics MTE 1 33

Students who fail to meet these criteria in reading, writing, and mathematics, regardless of high school diploma, will only be permitted to enroll in non-credit classes. Virginia Western reserves the right to require placement testing for any individual seeking to enroll in credit classes.

Virginia Western reserves the right to evaluate and document special cases and to refuse or revoke admission if the college determines that the applicant or student poses a threat, is a potential danger, is significantly disruptive to the college community, or if such refusal or revocation is considered to be in the best interest of the college. Virginia Western also reserves the right to refuse admission for applicants that have been expelled or suspended from, or determined to be a threat, potential danger, or significantly disruptive by, another college. Students whose admission is revoked after enrollment would be given due process through the college’s Care Team committee.

Admission to Virginia Western does not guarantee admission to a particular curriculum. Individuals may be admitted as curricular or non-curricular students.

For all non-curricular students, a completed official application is required with social security number requested. Non-curricular students must satisfy all required course prerequisites and placement testing requirements before enrolling in specific college-level courses.

For all curricular students, a completed official application is required with social security number requested. Curricular students who have attended another college or university (other Virginia community colleges are not required) must submit an official transcript for evaluation. Curricular students seeking admission into a restricted program are required to submit official high school transcripts, copy of GED scores (if applicable), and official transcripts from all colleges attended (Virginia Western and other Virginia community colleges are not required).

12.0.1 Dual Enrollment (High School and Home School) Student Admissions

Although high school and home school students are not normally qualified for general admission, Virginia Western offers admission to those students who meet additional criteria. Dual enrollment is restricted to high school juniors and seniors and home school students studying at the high school junior or senior levels. Home school students must also provide a copy of a home school agreement approved by the school district, or a letter from the local school board, or a copy of the letter filed by the parent/legal guardian declaring home school for religious exemption. Documentation of parental permission is required for all dual enrollment students.

Because admitting freshman and sophomores is considered exceptional, the college ready status of each prospective freshman and sophomore student will be treated on a case-by-case basis. Formal approval by the college president or his designee is required for admitting freshman and sophomores. This approval is sought by completing the Request for Special Circumstances Admission Form (PDF). Other conditions, as deemed appropriate by the college president and/or the dean, may also apply.

All students admitted under this section must demonstrate readiness for college by meeting the criteria below. Students enrolling in a dual enrollment course must meet all course prerequisites.

Admission Criteria for Transfer Courses*
Writing ENG 111 43 50
Effective 2015: 28**
500 21 N/A
Reading ENG 111 42 50
Effective 2015: 27**
500 21 N/A
Mathematics MTE 1 33 52
Effective 2015: 27**
520 22 Algebra I - Pass
Admission Criteria for CTE Courses*
Writing ENF 1 35 50
Effective 2015: 28**
500 21 N/A
Reading ENF 1 35 50
Effective 2015: 27**
500 21 N/A
Mathematics MTE 1 33 52
Effective 2015: 27**
520 22 Algebra I - Pass

*Please see the Dual Enrollment Placement and Prerequisite Guide for additional information.

** The Redesigned PSAT was implemented in 2015. Updated cut-scores effective in 2015 apply to PSAT tests completed in 2015 or after. PSATs taken prior to 2015 are subject to the original cut-scores.

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I-18: Grading Policy 

Policy Number: I-18
Last Reviewed: February 18, 2016
Responsible Dept.: Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs

The quality of performance in any academic course is reported by a letter grade, the assignment of which is the responsibility of the instructor. These grades denote the character of study and are assigned quality points as follows:

A Excellent: 4 grade points per credit
B Good: 3 grade points per credit
C Average: 2 grade points per credit
D Poor: I grade point per credit
F Failure: 0 grade points per credit

Other grades may be assigned to include I Incomplete; P Pass; S Satisfactory; R Re-enroll; U Unsatisfactory; W Withdrawal and X audit. These grades are not included in the calculation of grade point averages. Courses graded with an S, R, U, or X will not result in the award of credits.

Faculty have the prerogative to establish how each letter grade is determined in their courses. The grading requirements, including grading scale, must be documented in the course syllabus. Virginia Western does not have a college-wide grading scale, but leaves this to the discretion of the teaching faculty.

Once a grade is awarded, it is normally permanent. In situations where there are documented, mitigating circumstances or an uncontested error, grade changes must be requested within one year of receipt of the grade in question. For contested grades, students are allowed to submit a grade appeal only if they do so within one month after the grade is posted. Information regarding final grade appeals are found in the Student Grievance Policy. Virginia Western’s grade plan is reviewed annually under the supervision of the College Registrar and the Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs.

18.1 No Show Policy

In order to receive any letter grade, a student must have attended a minimum of one class meeting or the equivalent in the case of a distance learning course. In a distance learning course, initial student attendance is determined by course participation as measured by accessing and using course materials, completion of a class assignment, participation in a course discussion, or other evidence of participation.

Students who enroll in a course but do not attend a minimum of one class meeting or the distance learning equivalent by the census date will be administratively deleted from the course. In this case, there will be no tuition refund for the course. Students who are dropped from a course by the instructor for non-attendance cannot be reinstated unless instructor error is determined.

18.2 Withdrawal Policy

A grade of “W” is awarded to students who withdraw or are withdrawn from a course after the drop period, but prior to the completion of 60% of the session. Students who cease attendance prior to the withdrawal deadline may be withdrawn from the class. Students who are withdrawn by the instructor for non-participation cannot be reinstated unless instructor error is, determined.

After the completion of 60% of the session, a student who withdraws or is withdrawn from a course is assigned a grade of F . Exceptions to this policy may be made under mitigating circumstances with supporting documentation. Students seeking an administrative withdrawal must submit a Request for Administrative Withdrawal.

18.3 Incomplete Grade Policy

The grade “I” is to be used only for verifiable, unavoidable reasons that a student is unable to complete a course within the normal course time. To be eligible to receive an “I”, the student must (1) have satisfactorily completed more than 60% of the course and attendance requirements and (2) must request the faculty member assign the “I” grade and indicate why it is warranted. The faculty member has the discretion to decide whether the “I” grade will be awarded. Since the “incomplete” extends the enrollment in the course, requirements for satisfactory completion shall be established through consultation between the faculty member and the student.

In assigning the “I” grade, the faculty member must submit an Incomplete Grade Contract that (1) states the reason for assigning the grade; (2) specifies the work to be completed and indicates its percentage in relation to the total work of the course; (3) specifies the date by which work must be completed and (4) identifies the default grade (B, C, D, F, P, R, or U) based upon the coursework already completed. Completion dates may not be set beyond the subsequent semester (to include summer term).

If the work is not completed in accordance with the dates outlined in the Incomplete Grade Contract, the student will be awarded the default grade. The default grade will be final. At the end of each term, all outstanding “I” grades will be changed to the default grade prior to final grade processing.

18.4 Audit Policy

Students desiring to attend a course without taking the examination or receiving credit for the course may do so by registering to audit through the usual registration process and paying the normal tuition. Permission of the academic dean or the College Registrar on the Audit Approval Form is required to audit a course.

Audited courses carry no credit and do not count as a part of the student’s course load. Students desiring to change status in a course from audit to credit or from credit to audit must do so within the add/drop period for the course.

Students who desire to earn credit for a previously audited course must re-enroll in the course for credit and pay normal tuition to earn a grade other than “X”. Advanced standing credit cannot be awarded for previously audited courses.

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I-33: Privacy of Education Records

Policy Number: I-33
Last Reviewed: March 18, 2014
Responsible Dept.: Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), also known as the Buckley amendment, is a federal law that was enacted in 1974 to protect the privacy of students and their educational records. The intent of the legislation is to protect the rights of students and to ensure the privacy and accuracy of educational information. The Act provides for the right of eligible students to:

  • Inspect and review their educational records. Additional information can be found in the policy regarding Student Permanent Records.
  • Request an amendment to records that are believed to be inaccurate. Additional information can be found in the policy regarding Student Permanent Records.
  • Require Virginia Western to obtain written consent prior to disclosure of personally identifiable information, except those items noted in herein.
  • File a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the college to comply with FERPA.

“Educational information” is defined as any record maintained by an educational institution, including files, documents, and materials of any type which contain information directly related to students, and which allows a student to be identified. “Educational information” does not include:

  • “Sole possession” records or private notes held by educational personnel which are not accessible or released to other personnel;
  • Law enforcement or campus security records which are solely for the purposes of law enforcement;
  • Records related to individuals who are employed by Virginia Western;
  • Records related to treatment provided by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional;
  • Records of the institution which only contain information about an individual obtained after that person is no longer a student at Virginia Western (i.e., alumni records).

Students who have applied, but not attended Virginia Western, and deceased students are not protected under FERPA guidelines.

Upon request, Virginia Western discloses education records without the student’s consent to officials of another school in which a student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled, so long as the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer. Virginia Western will disclose the educational records of dual enrollment students to high school personnel.

Student education information may also be used without a student’s written approval for the purposes of educational research conducted or approved by Virginia Western.

Students can authorize the release of their education information to a parent, spouse, or other third party by completing an Information Release Form.

33.1 Parents’ Rights Under FERPA

Parents lose rights under FERPA when their child turns 18 years of age or starts attending classes in any postsecondary institution, whichever happens first. Under 20 USC 1232g(d); all rights of parents, including the right to inspect educational records and to consent to the disclosure of personally identifiable information transfers to the student at the earlier of: l)the attainment of age 18, or 2) attendance at an institution of postsecondary education.

Parents of a financially dependent student, as defined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), may obtain their child’s records after submitting proof of the student’s dependency via the most recent federal tax form. Requested information will not be released prior to the submission of this documentation.

Students can authorize the release of their education information to a parent, spouse, or other third party by completing an Information Release Form.

33.2 Spouses’ Rights Under FERPA

Under FERPA, a student’s spouse is considered an “unrelated third party” and, therefore, has no rights under the Act. Virginia Western cannot disclose a student’s educational information to a spouse without consent, even if the spouse is supporting the student.

Students can authorize the release of their education information to a parent, spouse, or other third party by completing an Information Release Form.

33.3 Release of Directory Information

As provided by FERPA, colleges may disclose the following Virginia Community College System directory information items without the student’s prior consent at the College’s discretion:

  • Student’s Name
  • Participation in officially recognized activities and sports
  • Address
  • Telephone Listing
  • Weight and height of members of athletic teams
  • E-mail Address
  • Degree, honors, and awards received
  • Major field of study
  • Dates of attendance
  • Grade level
  • The most recent educational agency or institution attended
  • Number of credit hours enrolled
  • Photos

As noted above, the College reserves the right to publish the names of students who receive academic honors.

A student may formally request that Virginia Western not release directory information on their behalf by submitting a Student Request for Non-Disclosure of Records to the Records Office or by changing the privacy settings in the Student Center of their MyVWCC account. Once this request has been made, every reasonable effort will be made to safeguard the confidentiality of directory information.

Once an official request of non-disclosure has been made, the student will not be permitted to request an official or unofficial transcript online in the College’s student information system. The student will be required to submit written authorization with proof of identity to the Records Office before a transcript will be released. Additionally, Virginia Western staff will not respond to phone calls from potential employers to verify enrollment for students who have submitted an official request of non-disclosure without the student’s written authorization.

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I-34: Student Permanent Record

Policy Number: I-34
Last Reviewed: February 3, 2014
Responsible Dept.: Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs

Policy Document (PDF)

The Records Office maintains records for each student attending, or who has attended, the College. A record of the student’s grades and courses taken will be permanently maintained in electronic format. This permanent, electronic record meets the guidelines set up by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and includes:

  • The credits transferred from other institutions, including the number of credit hours given (the number of hours may change if the student transfers from one curriculum to another)
  • The semester in which the student is currently enrolled
  • The student’s social security number or ID number
  • The Academic Program and Plan
  • The course number, course title, the hours attempted, the hours completed, and the grade for each course. Course section shall be optional;
  • A grade point average for each semester attended;
  • The cumulative grade point average of the student; and
  • Academic action taken against the student including academic probation, suspension, and dismissal.
  • Degrees, diplomas, certificates, honors

Disciplinary probation and disciplinary dismissal will not be placed on the students’ permanent records. Disciplinary records are stored separately and are available for release with permission from the student.

A file will be maintained during the student’s enrollment at the College, but will be destroyed after three years of non-attendance. This file may include:

  • High school transcripts;
  • Other college transcripts and evaluations;
  • Correspondence with the student;
  • Grade Change Forms;
  • Course Substitution and Advanced Standing Forms.

Virginia Western administrators, faculty, and staff who need to see student records to assist in the student’s academic pursuits may have access to the aforementioned records. College personnel involved in institutional research may also be permitted to access records on a need-to-know basis. All others are required to have written permission from the student.

Eligible students have the right to inspect and review their educational records within 45 days of submitting a written request to the Records Office. This request must identify the record(s) the student wishes to inspect. Once the written request has been submitted and reviewed, the Records Office will make arrangements for access and notify the student of the time and place where the records may be inspected. Virginia Western is not required to supply copies of records unless there are specific, mitigating circumstances (i.e., great distance from the college) that prevent the student from reviewing the records.

34.1 Amending the Student Record

A student may ask the college to amend a record believed to be inaccurate or misleading. If Virginia Western decides not to amend the record, the eligible student has access to the formal grievance procedures outlined in the Student Handbook . If, after the grievance, Virginia Western still chooses not to amend the record, eligible students have the right to place a statement with the record commenting on the contested information.

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I-13: Protection of Student Records

Policy Number: I-13
Last Reviewed: October 6, 2014
Responsible Dept.: Dean of Student Services/Registrar

Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) protects the security, confidentiality and integrity of student records and maintains security measures to protect and back-up data. VWCC ensures the confidentiality, accuracy and protection of student educational records by following the requirements of Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and the Virginia Community College System Policy (Section 6.2.7). In addition, VWCC adheres to the Commonwealth of Virginia Information Technology Standard ISO27000 (ISO 27000) which ensures the security and confidentiality of all information.

VWCC has access to electronic student records and stores physical student information records. Electronic records are maintained within the Virginia Community College System’s (VCCS) centrally housed PeopleSoft Student Information System (SIS). The information is protected in accordance with the requirements outlined in IS027000. The VCCS maintains a “mirrored snap shot” of all SIS data at the Greenfield Center in Botetourt County. All student records are encrypted and sent daily to the Greenfield Center VCCS disaster site.

Physical student records are maintained in fire proof cabinets in a secured/gated room inside the Records Office located in Chapman Hall, which is also locked when the Records Office is not open for business. During hours of operation, the Records Office is always staffed to insure records security. The student records contain such items as: application for admission, grade change forms, experiential credit forms, transcripts, transcript requests, plan changes, change of personal information, advanced standing credit, administrative withdrawals, etc. In accordance with the Commonwealth of Virginia Records Retention and Disposition Schedule in the Virginia Public Records Management Manual, hard copy data is maintained for three years after the student’s last date of attendance; electronic data is not purged. Disposal of student records is handled through CINTA security services.

All college new hires are notified that FERPA training is required during their new hire orientation. An e-mail is sent to the college community every semester by the Registrar outlining FERPA requirements and how to identify blocks on release of information. Directory information may be released upon request at the discretion of the college. See information regarding FERPA on the college website. Directory information includes: student name, address, e-mail address, telephone number, dates of attendance, number of credit hours enrolled, grade level, major field of study, degrees received, awards and honors, photos, most recent educational institution, participation in clubs and activities, and weight/height of members of athletic teams. Although these items have been deemed directory information, faculty and staff will avoid releasing a student’s address or telephone number without written authorization.

Administrators, academic advisors, faculty and classified staff who need to see student records to assist in the student’s academic pursuits may have access to the records after the completion of a Security Access Request Form which requires the approval of the employee’s supervisor and the VWCC student records data owner. If job responsibilities change or employment is terminated, either a change in access is completed or all access is deleted. All access is reviewed annually in compliance with ISO27000 to ensure access is required and necessary for each employee.

If a security breach occurred, VWCC would follow the VWCC Threat Management Information Security Incident Handling guideline which is part of ISO27000. The nature and severity of the information security incident would be accessed and the Incident Response Team would be informed of the potential breach of student information. An Incident Reporting Form would be completed and all procedures within the Threat Management guideline would be followed.

To reiterate the need to maintain the integrity, confidentially and security of student records, sections of the College Catalog, Student Handbook and Faculty Handbook address this and faculty and staff are expected to adhere to these standards and guidelines. Links to the various locations of this information in these publications are provided below.

Right to Privacy
Guidelines & Policies for Computer Use

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I-14: Policy on Providing Credit for Non-Credit Courses

Policy Number: I-14
Last Reviewed: December 4, 2012
Responsible Dept.: Dean of Student Services/Registrar

Virginia Western Community College does not award credit for courses taken as non-credit. If a non-credit course leads to credentialing then the credential could be used to provide credit through experiential learning as outlined in policy I-15 (Policy on Awarding Credit).

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I-15: Policy for Awarding Credit

Policy Number: I-15
Last Reviewed: December 17, 2012
Responsible Dept.: Dean of Student Services/Registar

Policy Document (PDF)

Virginia Western accepts credit for transfer, experiential learning, credit by examination, advanced placement, military training and professional certificates that is consistent with our mission.

  • Transfer credit is defined as credits transferring from another post-secondary institution. Students must submit original transcripts from the post-secondary institution to receive credit.
  • Experiential learning credit is college-level learning that occurs in settings other than the traditional classroom and is granted to students who can demonstrate the academic merit of such experiences. Students possessing a certificate in defined areas may be granted credit by providing documented successful completion of certificate.
  • Credit by examination may be provided in disciplines where no College Level Examination Program (CLEP) or Advanced Placement (AP) exam is accepted by Virginia Western. Locally developed department “challenge” exams may be a means of earning college credit for prior learning by demonstrating satisfactory academic competency in a particular subject.
  • Virginia Western offers a selection of national standardized exams, Advanced Placement (AP), College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and International Baccalaureate (IB), which offer students the opportunity to obtain college credit for prior learning. Minimum scores are outlined in the College Credit through Advanced Standing brochure. College credit may be awarded for those exams for which Virginia Western Community College has determined specific equivalents.
  • Military training, courses and occupational specialty can be considered for college credit. Virginia Western follows the American Council on Education’s (ACE) Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services in determining the value of learning acquired in military service.

Procedures for awarding above defined credit are outlined in College Credit through Advanced Standing brochure. The procedures are reviewed annually and are available in hard copy and on the college website.

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