I'm working on a project for a college that involves students who have done poor academic work, and I'm looking for a way to succinctly describe the various academic status codes that these students belong to (both in meetings and internally to the project, as I'm also the programmer).

In the past, the college referred to these students as "probationary" or "on suspension", but the new academic standards policy expanded its definition of these students from two groups to four (or six, or eight, depending on how rigorously you interpret the policy).

Currently, I'm just using "academic status" as a placeholder, but it's become awkward. I've considered using terms like demerit and disposition. However, demerit is a discrete noun, and while disposition more accurately describes the process-oriented nature of the new policy, it's a little too generic for my taste.

Can anyone suggest a more specific term that could describe a student's academic status, or am I close enough with demerit or disposition?


To be clear, I'm looking for a word that would describe the student's overall, college-level academic status (as in, your cumulative GPA qualifies you for [insert poor academic status descriptor here]).

  • I suppose 'failing' is not PC enough?
    – Gnawme
    Nov 21, 2011 at 17:33
  • @Gnawme It's more specific than that. Students fail classes, but we're talking about a college-level process -- "I failed college" or "This student failed college" isn't a phrase I would use in a formal process.
    – jwiscarson
    Nov 21, 2011 at 17:37
  • How many gradations of 'deficient' do you need?
    – Gnawme
    Nov 21, 2011 at 17:48
  • @Gnawme, we have technical terms for each deficiency level, but nothing that succinctly describes all deficiency levels as a whole. I think Monica's answer below is as close as I'll get.
    – jwiscarson
    Nov 21, 2011 at 17:51
  • Ah, sorry, I didn't catch your edit, which clarified your question greatly.
    – Gnawme
    Nov 21, 2011 at 18:20

3 Answers 3


I infer from your edit that you are looking for a term for the status in general, which might be either negative (failing, probation) or positive (high merit). This sounds like an "academic level" or "achievement level". ("Grade" would be a reasonble substitution for "level" except that "grade" usually means what year you're in, e.g. 8th grade, so that could be confusing.)

If you want a single word and not a phrase (as implied by the tagging), would "readiness" work?

  • Hmm...readiness is really close -- part of this process includes dismissing students from college for a period of time, but I think that readiness accurately describes that from a certain standpoint anyway. I'll propose that term to the rest of the team and see what they think.
    – jwiscarson
    Nov 21, 2011 at 17:49

Just brainstorming here...

  • substandard

  • failing grade

  • insufficient progress

  • objectives not met

  • needs improvement

  • I think he's looking for one word meaning something like "disciplinary status". To describe the status not the student. A meta-level up.
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Nov 21, 2011 at 17:31
  • @z7sgѪ is correct, but I should've specified this -- I'll edit the question here. I'm specifically talking about overall academic status, not a lack of progress within a single class.
    – jwiscarson
    Nov 21, 2011 at 17:33
  • @jwiscarson: but your question in the title is for 'deficient academic status', not 'academic status'. So which one is it?. Can you edit your question so that it asks for what you really want?
    – Mitch
    Nov 21, 2011 at 17:58
  • @Mitch, I edited the title as Monica's answer works both ways. Do you think the question need further editing or clarification?
    – jwiscarson
    Nov 21, 2011 at 18:03
  • @jwiscarson: Oh OK I see...yes, it's the title that anchors everyone into thinking all you care about is the bad status, not status at all levels.
    – Mitch
    Nov 21, 2011 at 18:07

How about 'footing' or 'posture'?

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