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    Palo Alto College
  Jun 15, 2024
Palo Alto College Schedule/Catalog 2015-2016 
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Palo Alto College Schedule/Catalog 2015-2016 [Archived Catalog]

Making the Grade

Academic Standards



Completion and Graduation


Academic Fresh Start

Your old grades don’t have to count against you. If you’re a Texas resident and apply for admission (or readmission) to Texas public colleges or universities and enroll as an undergraduate, you may be able to begin a new course of study with a clear academic record.

If you have credits for college courses taken ten or more years prior to the planned enrollment date, those credits (and grades) can be ignored for enrollment purposes under the Texas “Academic Fresh Start ” Law. This is an all or nothing option. You cannot pick and choose which courses to ignore and which courses to count. This means that courses taken previously cannot be used to fulfill prerequisite or degree requirements and are not used in your new GPA.

Academic Standing/Probation/Dismissal

Maintaining good Academic Standing  helps you reach your academic goals faster. 

  • Good Standing requires that you maintain a minimum overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 or better.
  • Academic Probation occurs if your semester cumulative GPA falls below 2.0.
  • Continued Academic Probation occurs if your cumulative GPA falls below 2.0 but your semester GPA is above 2.0.
  • Academic Dismissal occurs if you are on Academic Probation or Continued Academic Probation and do not earn a semester term GPA of 2.0 or a cumulative GPA of 2.0. Academic Dismissal requires that you take special action as outlined in Academic Standards  in the academic catalog.


Attendance  has a significant impact on performance, and attendance during the first week is essential to your success. Academic success is directly tied to the effort students put into their studies, the degree to which they interact with faculty and peers, and the extent to which they integrate into campus life. 

Smart Start

Student absences are recorded from the first day the class meets. Students who do not attend the first scheduled class meeting  or contact the instructor will be dropped. Students should verify the drop is completed. 

For fully online courses, an attendance verification activity is assigned and must be completed by the 3rd class day.

Excessive Absence/Process

Excessive absences can result in an instructor dropping you from a class. If you stop attending class for any reason you should contact the instructor and the Enrollment/Admissions and Records office to officially withdraw from the class. If you are not dropped from the course or you have reached the six-drop rule you will receive the grade earned in that class.

Early Alert and Intervention

Your academic success is important to your instructors. If instructors notice that you are experiencing academic difficulties early in the term, they may send an email to your ACES account that will advise you about ways to address those difficulties. It is very important that you promptly respond to any Early Intervention communication. Your success depends on it. 


Schedule Changes (Adds & Drops)

You may find it necessary to change your classes  after you have completed the registration process. You may add or drop classes using ACES during designated time periods listed under Registration Dates & Payment Deadlines/Refund Dates . Keep in mind that changes to your schedule may result in additional charges that you are responsible for paying before the next payment deadline.

Drops/Withdrawals from Courses

The terms “drop” and “withdraw” are used interchangeably. Faculty must drop a student for non-attendance during the first week of class or for lack of academic progress during the term. A student may also initiate a drop to withdraw from a class. Dropped classes may be noted on your transcript and may count towards the six-drop rule. There also may be financial consequences for drops/withdrawals, including financial aid penalties.

Before withdrawing from one course, you should meet with the instructor. Before withdrawing from all classes, you must meet with an advisor.

For information on student-initiated withdrawals, see Admissions/Enrollment Services, which can be found in the left hand navigation bar under “Contact Information and Hours.”

Six Drop Rule

Students are limited to a total of six (6) course drops  during their undergraduate career, including a course(s) dropped at another institution as defined in Section 51.907 of the Texas Education Code. A dropped course is defined as a course in which an undergraduate student at an institution of higher education has enrolled for credit but did not complete.

Carefully consider the number of courses to take and the time commitment required to be successful. Students with a cumulative total of six (6) drops may not drop a course and will be awarded the grade earned at the end of the semester. A waiver may be available through the Admissions/Enrollment Services office.  Contact information can be found in the left hand navigation bar under “Contact Information and Hours.”

Withdrawal for Military Service

Some members of the military may want their transcripts to reflect that they withdrew due to military reasons. Others may request that their transcripts show no indication that they were enrolled, and courses will be permanently removed from their transcripts. The Alamo Colleges provides a 100% refund for withdrawals with the presentation of military orders.

Readmission to Class

If you have been dropped from classes for excessive absences that have resulted in a lack of academic progress, you may be reinstated  only at the discretion of the instructor. A reinstatement form must be signed by the instructor and submitted to the Enrollment Services/Admissions and Records Office.


Developmental Education 27 Hour Rule

If you take more than 27 hours of Developmental Education  (College Prep) courses, you will be charged an additional rate  . However, no additional charges are assessed to non-resident/international students.

Excess Credit Rule

Texas Education Code allows public colleges and universities to charge a higher rate of tuition to students that exceed the bachelor degree requirements by more than 45 hours.  While this law only applies to senior institutions and not to community colleges, the Alamo Colleges wants you to be aware of the impact on your cost of education.  Early and regular advising is critical to ensure that you stay on track.      

Course Loads

Students generally may not enroll for more semester credit hours  than the number of weeks in a semester/session. If you are enrolled in terms of different lengths at the same time, you may enroll in a maximum number of semester credit hours equal to the number of weeks in the longest term. Several special block programs (e.g., English as a Second Language, Fire Academy, etc.) that require enrollment in semester credit hours beyond the maximum normally allowed may be exempt from course load limitations. 

NOTE: The definition of full- and half-time status for financial aid purposes may be different. For an overview of full-time status, part-time status and course hour maximum, see the Financial Aid  section of the college catalog in the left hand navigation bar.

Petition for Course Overloads

You may petition to enroll in additional hours beyond the established course load limitations through the appropriate administrator or designee.

Student Development (SDEV)/Learning Framework (EDUC) Courses

All students must complete a student development course  designed to help them successfully transition to college and better understand the Alamo Colleges’ expectations. Student Development (SDEV) and Learning Framework (EDUC) courses offer techniques in life-long learning, creative and critical thinking, time management, test and note taking, studying, career planning, and the establishment of lasting relationships. Students who successfully complete SDEV or Learning Frameworks courses have a proven record of higher retention and persistence in college. A variety of student development courses are offered to fit specific student needs. See the Registration  section of the academic catalog on the left hand navigation bar to see which apply to you.


The syllabus provides an overview of the assignments and activities in a course. It is your guide to what to expect from the course and to your responsibilities as a student in that course. Become familiar with the syllabus and keep up with the assignments to ensure that you earn the highest grade possible.


Texas colleges and universities are required to make course syllabi available through their websites. In addition, instructors are required to provide curriculum vitae (resumes) that include their educational background and published material so that students may make informed decisions based on instructor credentials.

Non-Traditional Credit

Once you have earned six college-level credits, you may earn up to 32 college-level credit hours through non-traditional sources , such as proficiency and standardized exams. The semester credit hours earned through exams are counted for graduation even though they are not included in your GPA. If you have already received a grade in a course, you cannot opt for non-traditional credit. If you plan to transfer you should consult with transfer institutions about their non-traditional credit policies.

Visit your Assessment Center for complete guidelines on receiving advanced placement credit. See Assessment & Testing, which can be found in the navigation bar to the left under “Contact Information and Hours.”

Types of credit received by non-traditional means are listed in the academic catalog.

Assessment and Testing

The Assessment and Testing Centers offer a variety of testing programs to assist with state test requirements, academic placement, correspondence/external, distance education and CLEP  testing. Many exams require an appointment prior to testing. Additional information and other testing services can be found at the Testing Center website. The Center also provides make-up exams.

Evaluation and Grading System

Instructors evaluate your coursework based on how well you achieve the objectives of a course. Your instructors, and their syllabi, will explain these objectives, as well as how grades will be assigned.  

Permanent grades are recorded at the end of the term and are available through ACES approximately one week after all finals are completed for the term.  

Grading System  

The Alamo Colleges grading system is available in the Academic Standards  section of the academic catalog on the left hand navigation bar.   

A grade of NR (Not Recorded) is posted on your transcript when your instructor has not assigned a final grade. To change a grade of NR, you should follow up with the instructor or, if the instructor is not available, with the department chair.

Withdrawal Grades

All “WS” or “W” grades  have no effect on your GPA, but do negatively impact Satisfactory Academic Progress  (SAP) for financial aid eligibility. Military Service withdrawals are recorded as “WM.” If you simply stop attending a class without withdrawing, you will receive a grade of “F.” It is your responsibility to ensure that your drops are processed and recorded. 

Final Examinations

While other exams are given at the discretion of the instructor, a written comprehensive final examination is given at the end of each semester for each course at a scheduled time. The Final Exam Schedule changes with each term and differs from normal class meeting dates and times. See the Final Exam Schedule in the Schedule of Classes in the left hand navigation bar.

Grade Point Average/Calculating the GPA

Your GPA  is determined by dividing the total number of quality points by the total number of semester credit hours attempted (not including W, WM, WS, WX, IP, CR, NC, NR, AU) for which grades have been received. The average is based on all semester and term coursework.


Honors  are granted to students who earn a cumulative GPA of 2.00 in addition to a current semester GPA of 3.5 or higher in their Fall or Spring semesters. The honors are awarded by the student’s home college. Grades earned for developmental courses beginning with the number zero (0) are not considered in Honors calculations.

Repeating a Course (3-Peat)

The Alamo Colleges will charge a higher tuition rate to students registering the third or subsequent time  for a course. The State will no longer subsidize a student’s enrollment for the third or subsequent attempt. You should meet with an advisor to determine if you are repeating a course for the third time.

Student Grade Changes and Appeals

You have a maximum of one year from the end of the term in which the final grade was issued to request a review of the grade or petition for a grade change. Judging the quality of academic performance rests with the instructor assigned to the course. If you believe that the grade is incorrect, you should schedule a conference with the instructor or, if the instructor is not available, the department chair. If you still are not satisfied with the grade, you can file an Academic Grievance within five days of the instructor’s decision. See Academic Grievance Procedure  in the District, State and Federal Regulations  section of your catalog located on the left hand navigation bar.


Completion and Graduation

Completing the core curriculum and earning an associate’s degree is an important step whether you plan to transfer or enter the workforce. You can get the most benefit from your enrollment when you follow a degree/transfer plan that will enable you to get an associate degree. It really will make a difference.

Why Graduate?

  • Research indicates that getting your associate degree before transferring gives you a 25% greater chance of completing a bachelor’s degree.    
  • Most transferring students have completed core curriculum requirements that will apply to the transferring institution. You are more likely to be accepted to a university by following a transfer plan.
  • Entry-level salaries average over $7,000 a year more when you have an associate degree than they would with a high school diploma alone. 
  • To be eligible to apply for or for career advancement in, 85% of better paying jobs in San Antonio require an associate degree.

Completing an associate degree — and being a part of the graduation ceremony with formal regalia (cap and gown) — gives you a sense of accomplishment and makes you a role model to family, friends and neighbors. They will celebrate your journey with you, and nothing could be better than that!

Not convinced? Visit an Advisor to review your records and discuss your academic progress, pending classes, petitions, equivalencies, etc. Go for it! Apply for graduation.

For degree/certificate requirements, see the Degree Plans & Certificates in the academic catalog on the left hand navigation bar, or see Alamo GPS.

Core Curriculum Completion

Many Alamo Colleges students plan to transfer to a college or university and will need the appropriate courses to do so. All transfer associate degree requirements (AA, AS, AAT) include a General Education Core Curriculum, or “The Basics.” Every public institution in the state of Texas requires a Core Curriculum designed to provide a solid foundation for college education and to make transfers between and from Texas institutions of higher education as smooth as possible. The Alamo Colleges Core Curriculum  (42 credit hours) will substitute for the Core Curriculum at any other public college or university in Texas.

Reverse Transfer Graduation

If you transfer from the Alamo Colleges to another Texas public college or university without having completed your Associate Degree, you may qualify for an Associate Degree under the Reverse Transfer Degree Program . To be eligible students must have accumulated 25% of the Associate degree (usually 15 credit college-level credit hours) at the Alamo College awarding the degree and subsequently completed the Alamo Colleges degree requirements at the transfer institution. Earned hours must include six semester hours in U.S./Texas government and six hours in U.S./Texas history.

To request a Reverse Transfer Degree you need to submit your Application Graduation Form online, and submit an official transcript from a public Texas college or university indicating the award of a baccalaureate degree. See your college for full instructions.

Commencement Exercises

Commencement exercises are a celebration of your achievement. All candidates for degrees and certificates are encouraged to participate. You do not need to be enrolled during the semester for which the “Apply to Graduate Form” is submitted or during the semester in which the degree is conferred in order to participate.

There is no cost for graduation. The diploma, cap, and gown are provided by the Alamo Colleges.

For more information about Graduation, see “Contact Information and Hours” on the left hand navigation bar.