Advice for New Freshmen

The collegiate experience is a complex process encompassing issues related to academics, professional development, building relationships, and financial matters. It is a process that must be managed. You are the manager. Managing requires a plan. Here are some basics to consider as you develop your plan.

Establishing a Purpose

Academic planning is more than just selecting courses to take. The first step in planning is to establish a purpose for your presence at the university. Why is this critical? Completion of a baccalaureate degree will require an extensive investment of your time and energy. Such an investment is not possible without commitment. Commitment requires purpose. Purpose requires a reason. Take time to explore the reason you are here.

You may be here by default: "My parents wanted me to go to college, but I really don’t know what I want to do with my life. Most of my friends are in college and I’d look dumb if I didn’t go."

You may be here for the right reason: "My aunt is a CPA. I’ve talked with her about her job, and I can see myself doing what she does. I like analytical problem solving, and I get a lot of satisfaction from learning."

If you are here by default, you may have difficulty committing sufficient time and energy to achieve academic success. Consider visiting the Academic Advising Center to explore your options for a major and a career.

Understanding the Environment

Many students find difficulty in making the transition from high school to college. Individuals accustom to getting "A" grades find themselves getting "C" grades, or worse. Such an experience can be tough on one’s self-esteem.

What is college? College is new friends wanting to shoot buckets, play cards, watch soaps, or just hang out. College is a slate of professors talking over your head and asking you to read more pages in a week than you read in a semester in high school. College is professors not taking attendance. College is freedom to choose how you’re going to spend your day. College is making difficult choices. College is learning to learn. College is your future. College is only once.

Managing Time

Success in college is a lot about making realistic estimates of time required for academics, committing the time, and following through with the commitment.

When in doubt about the amount of out-of-class time for a course, estimate 2 hours out for every hour in class. Some classes will take more, and some will take less. If college is a full-time job, a 45-hour week for a 15-credit load is not unreasonable.

Consider the following: 168 hours in each week
- 45 academics
- 56 sleep
- 20 employment
  47 hours of discretionary time (6 1/2 hours per day)

It is following through with the time plan that’s the tough part. Most individuals coming out of high school are simply not accustom to studying five hours per day, Monday through Saturday. This is all the more difficult when no one is forcing you to study, and there are so many other interesting things to do in the collegiate environment.

Managing Other Resources

Important other resources to be managed include professors, friends, friends that you haven’t yet made, and finances.

Professors are often underutilized as resources. At UW-L you have the opportunity to get help from your professors on a one-to-one basis; make the most of it. They may not be as engaging as your high school teachers, but professors will help you. You must understand, though, that most professors want you to have grappled at length with a topic before you ask for their help.

Your friends may want to be with you more time than you can afford. You must not give them time that you have allocated to your academics.

Network. Make new friends who are at least one year ahead of you in college. Learn from their experiences.

Credit cards are liabilities, not assets. Don’t allow short-term debt to pile up. Paying off debt requires more employment and less time allocated to academics.

Understanding the Contract

The University Catalog is a contract between you and the university. If you meet the terms of the contract, you will be awarded a baccalaureate degree. It is your responsibility to know the requirements for graduation. Study them. Here’s a good strategy. Use the Check Sheet (obtained in the CBA dean’s office) to learn the general education requirements, requirements for admission to the CBA, the CBA Professional Core, and the major requirements. Use the Catalog for checking course descriptions and course prerequisites.

Most professors are excellent advisors. However, they do expect you to know the requirements. Your advisor’s job is to review your plans and provide advice. Always feel free to get a second opinion from another professor

Having the Right Attitude

A university is an institution of higher learning. The focus is on learning, not teaching. Take primary responsibility for your learning.

Doing the Numbers

Because of the popularity of the 4-1/2 year plan for meeting the 150-hour requirement, this section provides guidance on that approach.

Table 1 demonstrates that it is possible to complete 150 credits in 4-1/2 years quite easily.

TABLE 1
FOUR AND A HALF YEARS TO 150 CREDITS

Year

Fall

Spring

Total

Freshman

16

16

32

Sophomore

16

16

35

Junior

15

15

33

Senior

15

12 (internship)

30

Fifth

15

 

15

Total

77

59

145*

*The remaining credits to reach 150 credits will come from credits you come into college with, taking winter or summer sessions, or taking additional credits in a given semester.

There are many ways to accomplish 150 credits in 4-1/2 years if that is your choice. You need to determine what academic credentials you would like to add to your accounting major and gather information on how to do it. Discuss it with your advisor. Good ideas include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Second CBA major: especially finance, information systems, or international business
  • Other second major: this may be hard to fit within 150 credits
  • International Business or Information Systems minor
  • Foreign language proficiency (major or minor)
  • Communications minor

You may create your own set of courses that you can characterize on your resume as an emphasis.

Scheduling Notes for Freshmen

Every semester accounting majors are required to see their advisor before they can register for classes. Students sign up in advance for advising. The advising period is generally two weeks during the middle of November and two weeks in the middle of April. WINGS will not allow you to register unless your advising hold has been removed by your advisor.