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  • Preparing for freshman registration

    Registering for you first semester in college can be challenging. Here are a few commonly asked questions that entering freshman have about summer freshmen registration.


    Why do I need to think about my fall classes?  Somebody will surely help me with this right?

    Yes, they will but this is your education.  You will have many choices in college and deciding what you want to learn should be a priority.  An important part of the Freshman Registration & Family Orientation (FR&FO) day will be the registration advising session in the afternoon.  You will be meeting with an advisor from your major department or from the AAC who will help you select classes for the fall semester.  This person may not necessarily be your advisor as advisor assignments will be made in August.

    To prepare for this session, you will attend an academic orientation for your selected College before the registration session.  There will be lots of information in this session that will assist you in selecting classes later, but you should begin thinking about your courses now.  By navigating this tutorial, the information presented to you at Freshman Registration & Family Orientation will make a lot more sense!  Hopefully, you already have some questions and concerns about how you will create your first ever college schedule of classes.

    Keep in mind, during the afternoon registration advising session family members will be separated from their students.  Now is a good time to talk about the tips you gather from this tutorial.

    So, how can I prepare?

    Give some thought to this ...... you are going off to college for the first time. You are not only adjusting to college level academics, but you are away from home for the first time, being totally responsible for yourself (when you study, when you get up, how you mange your time). We would all like you to earn your undergraduate degree in four years but not if it might be at the expense of giving up you dreams for the future. A sound first-semester schedule will allow you to explore your intellectual interests and gain a sense of yourself as a potential scholar, but there is no one formula that works for everyone. Advisors will help you make these choices, but you should come to the registration session well prepared with interests, ideas, questions, and a tentative list of courses you would like to take.

    If you are new first-year student, we urge you not to take on too much your first semester. Most students find that college work requires more time and effort than high school courses. If you had good study habits in high school and understood how to manage your time effectively, you have a leg up on many first-year college students. If your skills in these areas are debatable, give yourself a semester or two to acclimate to this new, demanding environment. If your are worried you are not as well prepared as you should be, start with 14-16 credit hours your first semester. This will give you the freedom to drop or withdraw from a course if you find your schedule too rigorous and still complete the minimum 12 credits. Twelve credits are required to be considered a full-time student at the undergraduate level. A first year student may take up to 18 credits per semester but the maximum load wouldn't be recommended for most first semester students. It would be a good idea to keep your class load at average until you can gauge your readiness for the intensity of college level course work.

    To understand credit-to-work-load-expectations a little better, consider this: Enrolling in a three-credit course means you will be in class for approximately three hours per week. But remember, as a general rule, in order to be successful you'll need two hours of study time each week for every credit hour you take. In other words, that three-credit-hour class is actually going to take up to nine total hours of your time each week.

    As your advisor works with you in the afternoon, she/he may assume you are completely sure of your major and that you want to complete the degree in four years. This is your schedule they're helping you build. Make your feelings known. Ask questions! There are opportunities to catch up in another semester or take a summer course. You make the decision about how much you can handle. One poor semester academically could affect the opportunities you have in the future.

    How does the afternoon advising session work?

    You will not actually be registering for courses in the afternoon.  You will work with an advisor to generate a list of courses that you want to request for fall.  The Records & Registration staff will make efforts to develop a schedule based on your requests.  The benefit of this is that students attending the later sessions of Family Registration and Family Orientation have as good a chance of getting their first choice classes as those that attend earlier sessions.  Although we try our best to place you in your first choice classes, students are not guaranteed their first choices and it greatly assists the registration staff when they know what other courses interest you.  Consequently during your meeting with an advisor, you will be selecting second and third choice courses too.

    Your Fall schedule will be finalized in early July, and can be viewed on WINGS.

    How will AP, IB, CLEP, and Transfer credits affect my choice of courses?

    Don't select courses in which you have or expect AP, IB, CLEP or transfer credits. When you signed up for a Family Registration & Family Orientation (FR&FO) day, you completed information about AP, IB, CLEP and transfer credits. Your advisor will be provided with this information when you arrive for your registration meeting in the afternoon. If your advisor suggests that you register for something you already believe that you have credit for or will have credits for, be sure to point this out. If the AP course is in your major (such as Biology, or Math) and if not having that course in your first semester will delay your academic program, then yes, list the course on your registration form. If you learn that you passed the AP exam and will receive credit for the course, then drop the course and add another using WINGS. You will receive an AP, CLEP, IB equivalency table when you arrive for FR&FO.

    What are typical courses for a first year students to consider?

    In general, a typical first-year student schedule for fall will focus on the requirements for the General Education (GE) Program.  Find the pink General Education Program brochure you previously received in a mailing from the Admissions Office. Study your choices in each category.  Selected GE courses may fulfill some of the core requirements of the College (Colleges of Science & Health, Liberal Studies and Business Administration) for your intended program of study.  Your advisor in the afternoon will be able to identify these courses, if applicable.  Most often the choice will be yours.  GE courses are intended to prepare students for life beyond the university.  Look up course descriptions.  If you view GE courses as hoops to jump through instead of opportunities to challenge yourself, you are losing out on one of the best components of your education as a college student. 

    Some of the GE courses your advisor recommends will be introductory courses for your major. 

    You will also have the opportunity to choose classes that don’t count toward the major or GE, but do count toward your degree.  These courses are called electives.  They will be explained on another link of this tutorial. 

    What do I need to know about taking English and Communications?

    CST 110 (Communicating Effectively), ENG 110 (College Writing), and ENG 112 (College Writing I AP) are considered skills courses in the General Education Program.  So it makes sense that, unless you have an English: Language and Composition AP score of 5 or transfer credit for these courses, you enroll in them your first year.  After all, other courses will build on these skills.  It is not recommended that you complete both in one semester.  You decide which one you want to take.  Your advisor may have a recommendation only if one is more essential to your major than another.  Otherwise it's your choice.

    ACT/SAT scores and/or UW Placement scores will be used to determine your English placement.  You won't know your placement in English until you arrive at Freshman Registration & Family Orientation.  Students with low placement scores in English will be required to enroll in ENG 050 (Fundamentals of Composition).  This course must be completed before you have earned 30 credits.  It is typically offered only in the fall semester.  Your advisor will help you figure out which English writing course you need.  If you are required to take ENG 050, request it for your fall schedule.  If you are not required to complete ENG 050, you should be thinking about whether you want to take English or Communications in your first semester.

    Fall 2014 Offerings: Literacy (English & Communication Studies)

    What do I need to know about taking math?

    All students, regardless of major, must take at least one math course at UW-L.  An exception could be a student with AP or transfer credit in math.  Some majors of course, may require more than one math course.  The UW Placement Exam is used to determine your math placement.  You won’t know your placement in math until you arrive at Freshman Registration & Family Orientation  That’s OK.  What you should be thinking about now is whether or not you want to take a math course in your first semester.  Your advisor will help you figure out which one you need.  Students who have not taken the math placement exam must contact the UW-La Crosse Counseling & Testing Center at 608.785.8073. 

    Students with low test scores in math will be required to enroll in MTH 050 (Basic Algebra) or MTH 051 (Topics in Intermediate Algebra).  If your math placement score indicates you need MTH 050, you must complete it prior to earning 30 credits. You should take this course in either the fall or spring of your first year.

    If you are not confident of the starting math level indicated by your placement test score, you may always select from a lower level math class. Some programs of study require a specific math course. Other programs let you choose your math course. Your advisor will tell you if a specific math course is required for your program.

    If you have placed into MTH 207 (Calculus I) or higher and earn a B or better, you will earn retroactive credit for MTH 151 (Pre-calculus) provided that your transcript shows no record of prior or concurrent enrollment in MTH 151, 207, 208, or 309.

    The Mathematics Department offers Credit by Exam in MTH 150 (College Algebra), MTH 151 (Precalculus), MTH 207 (Calculus I), and MTH 208 (Calculus II).  The exams are only available for incoming freshmen.

    Credit by Exam for MTH 150 is usually given the second week of class in the Fall semester.  The other exams (MTH 151, MTH 207 or MTH 208) are given on an individual basis.  See the department chair, Dr. Rebecca LeDocq (1025 Cowley Hall) to make arrangements for these exams.  Students may only receive General Education credit for either MTH 150 or MTH 151.

    Fall 2014 Offerings: Mathematics (General Education)

    What do I need to know about taking a modern (foreign) language?

    Not all majors at UW-L require modern (foreign) language study.  Your advisor can discuss this decision with you.  Students who have not taken the foreign language placement exam should contact the UW-La Crosse Counseling & Testing Center at 608.785.8073.  What you should be thinking about now is whether you want to take a modern (foreign) language course or not in your first semester. 

    You have probably already heard that you can earn retroactive credit if you complete a modern (foreign) language course above the Elementary I level and earn a “B” or higher.  It doesn't have to be this fall, but of course the sooner you continue your foreign language study after high school the more you will likely retain.  Like any other course, choose to continue your modern (foreign) language study based on your major requirements, your interest in learning the language, and your career goals. 

    Retroactive credit in the Department of Modern Languages - The Department of Modern Languages does not offer an exam to establish retroactive credit or advanced placement.  Instead, a student may receive retroactive credits provided a grade of “B” or better is earned in the student’s first university course above the 101 level in a particular language.  However, if a student received college credit for a course taken while still in high school (through Advanced Placement, Youth Options, or other cooperative agreements between secondary schools and colleges/universities), received a grade of “B” or better (if a grade was given), and did not receive retroactive credits at that time, retroactive credits may be awarded upon completion of the next level course at UW-La Crosse with a grade of “B” or better.

    Sample of Fall 2014 Offerings: Modern Languages

    What do I need to know about taking a science course?

    Some majors require a  specific science course.  Other majors allow you to choose your science course.  However, all students regardless of major, are required to enroll in at least one science course with a lab.  An exception would be a student with Advance Placement or transfer credit.   

    You are not required to enroll in a science course in your first semester, especially if you are in the College of Business or the College of Liberal Studies.  It’s your choice.  Of course, if you are in the College of Science and Health, it only makes sense – but continue reading.

    "I want to take Biology.  Should I take BIO 103 or 105?" This is a great question for your advisor. They will have a recommendation based on your major. (please see the link below for course descriptions) 

    "I want to take Chemistry this fall."  Please note that students that have a math placement of MTH 150 (College Algebra) or lower, must complete MTH 150 prior to enrolling in CHM 103.  

    "My advisor recommends I take Biology and Chemistry in my first semester."  These two courses are usually recommended because you have chosen a major or pre-professional program where taking these two courses in your first semester is important to staying on track for completion of your major in a timely manner.  Go back to the question “How Can I Prepare?” and read it again.  If you question your readiness to take two science courses in your first semester, communicate your concern to your advisor.  They can share their expertise on the subject and help you decide what to do. 

    Fall 2014 Offerings: Science (General Education)

    What other choices do I have in the General Education curriculum?

    In addition to the Skills (Literacy and Mathematics/Logical Systems & Foreign Languages) requirement of General Education (GE), you must also complete required coursework within the Liberal Studies section of General Education. 

    Please review the course descriptions of Fall 2014 General Education offerings, to see other classes that you might wish to take in the fall.

    What are electives?

    Elective courses are courses that count toward the degree but not specifically toward a major or towards the General Education requirements.  You may want to enroll in elective courses this fall.  Be sure to tell your advisor if you are planning on trying out for the Screaming Eagles Band (MUS 151) or other musical ensembles that earn elective credit.  There are some other good elective courses you may want to consider for fall.  If you are considering a health career but would like to explore your options, HP 106 would be a good choice.  A good course to explore majors within Exercise & Sport Science is ESS 115.

    Examples of Elective courses offered Fall 2014

    Is there class that might help me adjust to college life?

    As a matter of fact, there is!  It's called UWL 100 (First Year Student Seminar).  It's a one credit course that meets once a week for the first ten weeks of the semester.  Its purpose is to enhance the academic and social integration of new students into the university community.  And it's fun too!  This course allows you to get to know a group of about 25 students really well and increases the likelihood that students feel connected to UW-La Crosse.  Think you don't need it?  The majority of students that take the course highly recommend it to new freshman.

    I'm not ready to choose a major.  Is that OK?

    Yes!  Absolutely!  If you complete a thorough exploration and decision-making process during your first year in college, starting out as an undeclared major will increase the probability that you will make a good choice of major.  If you make this decision after you signed up for a Freshman Registration & Family Orientation day, call 608.785.8939 to make the change.

    By informing the Admissions Office of your decision before arriving at freshman registration, the paperwork you receive when you arrive will be accurate.  You will meet with an advisor that works specifically with exploring undecided students who will help you request a schedule that allows you flexibility in choosing your major later on in your academic career.

    Undecided students in the College of Liberal Studies and College of Science and Health will be assigned to professional advisors from the Academic Advising Center for the fall semester.  These advisors work specifically with undecided students to explore majors and careers.

    Can I still change my major?

    No problem.  If you made this decision after you signed up for a Freshman Registration & Family Orientation day (FR&FO), call 608.785.8939 to make the change.  By informing the Admissions Office of your decision prior to arriving at FR&FO, the "Registration Form" that you receive when you arrive will be accurate.

    Will participating in Intercollegiate Athletics affect my schedule?

    If you plan to try out for a fall sport, make sure to indicate this on your "Registration Form" so that the Records & Registration staff does not schedule you for classes that meet after 3:00 p.m.

    Will participating in marching band affect my schedule?

    If you are planning to try out for the Screaming Eagles Marching Band, make sure to indicate this on your "Registration Form".  Answers to frequently asked questions about the marching band can be found on the Screaming Eagles Marching Band webpage.

    Should I try to work and go to school full time?

    There is no perfect answer to this question.  During your first semester, ask yourself this "Do I need to work to pay for school?"  Then maybe you can work up to 20 hours per week and still be successful as a full-time student.  It depends on you.  Are you self-motivated to give your best to both?  Do you have good study skills and do you know how to manage your time effectively?

    Remember, you don't have anyone making you get up in the morning or anyone on you case about whether you are getting things done.  If you don't have to work, then maybe you want to just concentrate on you studies for the first semester while you get a better idea of what is required of college level classes.  Talk with your family members about this.