Yesterday, the deans gathered for the biannual readmission meeting that decides which students currently on leave will be able to re-enroll for the spring semester.
Students must apply for readmission following a medical leave or suspension for either academic or social violations.
Senior Associate Dean of Student Affairs Margaret Hazlett heads the readmission committee, which includes representatives from Residential Life, the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching, counseling and health, along with the student deans.
"Our charge is to hear statements from students who have taken a leave from the College," said Hazlett.
This year, 29 students applied for readmission to the College, an increase from recent years, but not an unusual amount.
"This year it's more than in past years, but I would say the past years have been more of the anomaly," said Hazlett. "I'd say that in the last 2 to 3 years it's been a smaller number, but before that it was in the 20 to 25 range."
The readmission committee considers a number of factors in their decisions, such as whether the student has fulfilled the conditions of their leave from the College, if representatives from Health and Counseling services believe they are ready to return, and if they have fulfilled any relevant financial aid requirements.
"Usually [the application] always involves a letter from the student requesting readmission, saying why they took the leave to begin with, what have they done during their time away, why do they now feel they are ready to return to Bowdoin, and how can the College help them during their transition back," said Hazlett.
The granting of medical leaves stipulates that students undergo some form of treatment during their time away from the College.The readmission committee considers whether the student has completed their treatment such that they are prepared to re-enter the College environment.
"If it's a medical leave, we ask for medical support," to assist the student during their time away, said Hazlett. When a student reapplies, the committee considers the opinion of the student's health provider and ask for a statement "confirming that they feel the student is ready to return."
If a student is suspended for academic deficiency, the conditions governing their readmission may stipulate that they successfully complete courses off-campus before re-enrolling.
"We'll want transcripts showing that they were successful in their courses while they were away," said Hazlett. "We also tend to ask for one to two letters of reference from an employer or professor for students who have been suspended for academic deficiency."
Furthermore, such students return to campus on academic probation. Similarly, those suspended for social code violations may also return to the College on social probation, depending on the nature of their offense.
Hazlett stressed that there are a number of reasons why students may not be immediately granted readmission to the College.
"If a student hasn't met their financial aid requirement and gotten their paperwork in, we can't readmit them, or if they haven't done their coursework," said Hazlett. "If, on the medical front, there's some disagreement, [then] I'd say there's probably more discussion [of] the medical leave. We just want to make sure that they're healthy enough to be back here."
Most important to the readmission committee is that the student demonstrates that he or she is ready to return to the College.
"We don't want students to come back too soon, because our experience has been that if students rush it, they tend not to be successful—they have a relapse," said Hazlett.
This year's readmission meeting comes as the final step in determining how many students will be on campus next semester.
With housing already close to capacity, the Office of Residential Life will work with readmitted students to try and find them a bed on campus.
"We wouldn't prevent a student from being readmitted because we don't have a bed for them," said Hazlett. "What we do [is] we let them know that we can't guarantee a bed. We work with them, we try to find housing assignments but if they definitely want a single, that's a long shot."
Hazlett defended medical leaves as breaks that allow students to take time off so they can return successfully to the College.
"I think there's a perception that if you take a medical leave, you're never coming back to this place," she said. "[Medical] leaves—people come back from them. Usually a typical leave for a [medical] leave is a year. Students not only come back, but they come back and they are extremely successful because they have taken the time—taking the time is good."