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Sorry this is a bit long. I really need some advice and opinions on what to do.

Last year, I started my PhD program, but due to changing my field of study and suffering from anxiety, my grades during the first semester were very poor. These were mandatory courses that were not directly related to my field of study, and I'm not sure how bad my GPA was because it hasn't been released yet. However, I know that I didn't pass with a score of at least 3.0. As a result, I have to retake the courses in the upcoming academic year. The course instructor told me that they would give me an 'incomplete' grade, and I can fill in my final grade once I retake the courses next year.

Although my grades were poor last year, I still tried to perform well in my lab work because I wanted to make sure that at least I didn't mess up everything. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder back (I'm an international student), and I didn't know how to seek treatment when I came here, also did not know that accommodations such as deferred exams could be requested based on mental health issues here. I could only get diagnosed with anxiety (my doctor here didn't agree with my previous diagnoses) and start taking medication after the last semester ended. This semester I'm making progress. I have been doing well in my classes and lab work, and I am still receiving my salary. Just when I thought everything was going smoothly, I received an email saying that I am on probation because of my poor grades from last year...

I'm feeling quite hope less right now. I accept responsibility for my poor performance last year, but is there any chance for me to argue or do I just have to accept the probation? The email regarding my probation did not mention my salary, only that I will not be able to participate in a minor assessment at the end of this semester (not the comprehensive exam) due to probation. I hope I should at least be allowed to take this assessment, as I am concerned that delaying it will only worsen my mental health...

Can you please advise me on what I can do?

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    Can you explain what "probabation" menas exactly? Also, don't you have written documents from your uni explaining this probation thing and whether you can or cannot argue?
    – user111388
    Apr 1, 2023 at 15:30

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You will probably have to accept the probation as graciously as possible and move on. It is not a good idea to try to argue in this kind of situation; you should imagine that the powers that be have a skeptical attitude toward you at the moment (which is essentially what the probation means) and trying to get out of things would likely make that impression worse. It seems that you’ll likely be fine as long as you perform better in the relevant courses next year, so focus on that.

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This semester I'm making progress. I have been doing well in my classes and lab work, and I am still receiving my salary.

That's great! Sounds like this will solve itself when your GPA goes above the threshold. Not seeing a big problem here.

is there any chance for me to argue or do I just have to accept the probation?

What is there to argue about? You don't allege that the grades were incorrect, and I assume you are automatically put on probation when your grades are below a threshold. It sounds like your grades are getting better, so this problem should solve itself.

The email regarding my probation did not mention my salary...I hope I should at least be allowed to take this assessment

If you have questions about what academic probation means, it is appropriate to ask for clarification. But I do not recommend asking for special treatment.

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First, as to moving forward successfully, I imagine that your Graduate School Office and your dissertation advisor will give you far better advice than what you can hope to find here. I also imagine that your university has the equivalent of an Academic Affairs Office, Student Affairs Office, or Counseling Services Office with staff who are professionally trained to advise students in exactly your situation.

Please avail yourself ASAP of the benefits from seeking out all of these services.

Secondly, as to accepting versus arguing against your probation limit, consider instead that a more important next step is to seek local counsel to help you sort through the complexities in your situation over the affected period.

Finally, for what it is worth, your situation is not unique (others have been there). It also sounds to be not yet hopeless. Your path out (e.g. to argue against the probation limit or to accept and move on) will become harder if not impossible to follow and/or may lead you to lingering self-doubts as you wait longer to ignore contacting the local offices at hand (versus seeking opinions here).

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