Planning for Academic Success


Attending every class meeting is important to your success in college. Guidelines for attendance are established by the faculty within a department or program, with the approval of the divisional dean.

Unless an announcement is made to the contrary, a class is considered dismissed if the instructor does not appear within fifteen minutes of the beginning of a class period. Students who expect to be absent for an extended period due to illness, accident, or other unavoidable problem should notify the Vice President of Student Services and Enrollment Management.

Students who attend a field trip should make arrangements with their other course instructors to make up any assignments missed on that day. Those who cannot attend classes, take an exam, study, or fulfill class assignments on a particular day because of their religious beliefs will be given an opportunity to make up their work at the convenience of the instructor. Students cannot be penalized for taking advantage of this right.  

Length of Program 

Full-time students with appropriate high school credits can complete the requirements for an associate degree in two years. However, some students may need to make up deficiencies in certain areas. Others change their concentration or major or withdraw from one or more courses. Students who work may take fewer courses per semester. Any of these reasons may make it necessary for a student to spend more than four semesters at Bristol. Courses may be taken in the summer for students who wish to shorten their time at Bristol.

Placement Tests

All students entering a degree or certificate program are required by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to demonstrate competency in reading, writing, and mathematics to ensure appropriate placement in classes. Students may demonstrate this competency through the Accuplacer exam or many other multiple measures. Please visit the Testing Center for more information.

The tests assess students’ skill levels in reading, writing, and mathematics. The results of the assessment, in conjunction with academic background information, are used by academic advisors to help students choose appropriate courses prior to registration; including developmental coursework.

Writing and Reading

Satisfactory performance on the Accuplacer WritePlacer and Reading tests is necessary to enroll in ENG 101, College Writing. Students who perform below the required level on the exams must successfully complete ENG 091 or ENG 092/101


Students who perform below the required level on the Accuplacer Quantitative Reasoning, Algebra & Statistics test, will be placed into a college level math course that has an additional support component built in. 

Course Load

A full-time course load is 12 credit hours or more a semester. Students on academic probation can register for no more than 13 credits. A load of five courses (15 to 17 credit hours) is considered to be the normal load, although in some programs more credits may be required in some semesters to complete the program within two years. Honor students may register for six courses (18-20 credit hours). Requests for exceptions may be made via email to Academic Affairs.

Plan for at least two to three hours of study for each class hour.  A student carrying 15 credits, for example, should schedule 30 to 45 hours for study each week.

Final Examinations

Final examinations, including projects and other evaluation activities, are given during the final week of the semester. Final examinations can be made up only for compelling reasons, such as accidents or sickness, and with the permission of the instructor.

A physician’s certificate may be required if the reason is medical. A student who misses a final examination is responsible for contacting the instructor and arranging to take the exam at another time. If the instructor is not available, the student should contact the appropriate academic dean.

Registering for Courses

Students may register for classes at any time during the registration period before the registration deadline. All students are to be registered in courses by the end of the first week of classes. No course changes will be permitted after that time, except with written approval of the faculty member concerned. Students can fill out the Course Change Form in AccessBCC under the Student Services tab or with the help of an Advisor.  

Dropping a Course

Students are encouraged to meet with an advisor before making any changes to their schedule. Students who need to adjust their schedules may do so during the registration period and through the first week of classes. After the first week of classes, students cannot add a class without instructor authorization. Students may drop any course through the second week of classes without penalty. After the second week of classes, any student who drops a class will receive a "W" enrollment status. See Withdrawal Policy & Procedures in this catalog.

To receive a "W," students must withdraw before the tenth week of classes of a 14-week semester. Students may withdraw online in accessBCC, in person at any Enrollment Center, or via their college email to Students should consult with the instructor or an advisor before withdrawing from a course. A grade of "F" will be assigned to any student who stops attending a course but does not officially withdraw.

Auditing a Course

A student may audit a single course for no credit with the consent of the instructor. A student may register to audit one week prior to the start of class through the Drop/Add period. No grade is given, but the notation of “L” is made on the permanent record.  The cost to audit a course is one half of the total cost (tuition and fees) of the course taken for credit. 

A student may repeat a course for credit the next semester after auditing a course. An audited class is not eligible for financial aid. Students may change from audit status to a credit status with approval of the instructor, department chair, and academic dean. Students would be responsible for the difference in cost from the audit status to the credit status.

Repeating a Course

Students may repeat a course once without the permission of the Registrar or designee. Students will then be required to complete a “Repeat Course” form found in their AccessBCC account under “Student Services”. The grade received on the most recent attempt of any repeated course replaces the previous grade(s) for grade point average calculation and graduation requirements, even if the most recent grade is lower than a previous grade. Students may use the petition process to request previous repeat grades be used for grade point average calculation and graduation requirements, or to request repeating a passed course that was not successfully completed (e.g. prerequisite or transfer grade is not high enough). All repeated courses remain on the student transcript. Students may repeat developmental courses as many times as it takes to pass or meet a prerequisite, but the total number of attempted developmental credits may not exceed 30. Students who wish to repeat clinical courses or courses in selective admissions programs must follow the policies of that program, which may include reapplying to the program.  

Impact of Course Load on Financial Aid

Students with financial assistance administered by the College may have their funds reduced or recalled if they withdraw or if an instructor withdraws them from a course. Before withdrawing from any course, you should discuss it with your instructor and your advisor. Students experiencing difficulty with course material should also consider assessing tutoring and other academic support services on campus. Financial Aid Counselors are available to review your award should you have any questions regarding the impact of your enrollment reduction. For more information, visit Financial Aid, email , or call 774-357-2515.

Directed Study

A directed study is an independent study or group study course under the sponsorship of a faculty member which meets the objectives of a course which is offered in the Academic Catalog. Credit for a directed study course is equivalent to credit for a catallog course offering and tuition is based on the number of credits approved.

To be eligible for directed study, the student must be enrolled in a program of study (degree or certificate) with three or less courses remaining and have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5. Academic Affairs may also approve other requests based on special student and/or programmatic needs with detailed documentation.  

Directed study requests should be submitted utilizing the online form in AccessBCC and must be submitted before the first day of the semester. If approved, and a faculty member is available to teach the directed study, students will be notified via Bristol email with details and the timeline to enroll.

For questions, please contact Academic Affairs at 774.357.2185.

Contract Learning

For students who want to investigate personal academic interests or pursue more experimental methods of learning, the College offers a flexible credit format where students can create part of their own study program. Advisors work with the student to determine plans, identify appropriate resource people, and write a learning contract. The contract includes the student’s goals, how and when s/he intends to accomplish them, and how that work will be evaluated. The credits earned are determined by the work proposed and may not total more than one-eighth of total credit hours required for graduation.

Students register with the Enrollment Center. Tuition is based on the number of credits determined through the learning contract. Proposals must be signed by the student, the advisor, the appropriate divisional dean, and the vice president of Academic Affairs. Credit will be awarded only if approval is granted before the student starts the project.