Academic Advising Center

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Why do I need to think about my fall semester classes now? 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. You will participate in four important academic sessions on the day you attend START (Student Advising, Registration, & Transition). In order for you to get the most out of each of the academic sessions, it is helpful (but not critical) that you be as accurate as possible in indicating the major you intend to pursue on the survey form you complete as part of the START day sign-up. If you are not sure of your major, it is totally acceptable to start your first semester as an Undeclared major. You can go back into the survey form and make changes to your major until June 1st.

The first session will be an Academic Overview for your selected College. There will be lots of good 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 START 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. 

After the College Academic overview, you will have the opportunity to meet with faculty and professional advisors who can answer questions for you on such topics as: math placement and FastTrack, foreign language placement and courses, athletics, music ensembles and marching band, and AP/IB/CLEP and transfer credits. In the afternoon, you will be meeting with an advisor from your major department or the Academic Advising Center who will help you select classes for the fall semester. This person will not necessarily be your assigned advisor. Advisor assignments will be made in August. After meeting with an advisor, you will proceed to a computer classroom to register for your classes. 

Keep in mind, during the afternoon advising and registration sessions 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 manage 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 your 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. Your advisor will help you make these choices, but you should come to START well prepared with interests, ideas, questions, and a tentative list of courses you would like to take.

As a first-year student, we urge you not to take on too much your first semester. Most students find that college coursework requires more time & 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 you 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 to be considered a full-time undergraduate student. Though students do have the option to enroll in up to 18 credits during a semester, first semester students are advised against doing this.  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 you work with advisors, they 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 will AP, IB, CLEP, and transfer credits affect my choice of courses?

When you signed up for a START day, you completed some information about AP, IB, CLEP and transfer credits. Your advisor will be provided with this information when you arrive for your advising meeting in the afternoon. If your advisor is suggesting you register for something you already believe you have credit for or will have credit for, be sure to point this out. Sometimes advisors recommend you still take the course for credit here at UWL. Usually it's a course crucial to your major and they are looking out for your best interests, ensuring that you have a better chance for success in higher level courses. Your advisor will discuss this with you when you meet with them. You can review the AP, IB, CLEP equivalencies online. You will also receive a handout when you arrive for START as well.    

What are typical courses for a first-year student to consider?

In general, a typical first-year student schedule for fall will focus on the requirements for theGeneral Education Program (GE). Some of the GE courses will already be pre-loaded on to your schedule because they are introductory course for your major. 

Study choices in each section. Selected GE courses may also fulfill some of the core requirements of the College (Colleges of Science and 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.  

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

CST 110 (Communicating Effectively), ENG 110 (College Writing)/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.  Typically, if students need both a writing and communications course, they enroll in one in the fall semester and the other in the spring semester. 

ACT/SAT scores and/or University of Wisconsin Placement Test will be used to determine your placement in English writing.  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, you will enroll in it for the upcoming fall semester

Fall 2017 Offerings: Literacy (General Education)

What do I need to know about taking Math?

All students, regardless of major, must take at least one math course at UWL. 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 University of Wisconsin Placement Test is used to determine your math placement. You will learn you math placement when you arrive  at START. Students who have not taken the math placement exam must contact the UW-La Crosse Counseling & Testing Center at 608.785.8073. 

If your major requires a specific math, every effort will be made to pre-register you in the appropriate math course based on your placement scores.

Students with low test scores in math will be required to enroll in MTH 045 (Pre-Statistics), MTH 050 (Basic Algebra), or MTH 051 (Topics in Intermediate Algebra). If your math placement score indicates you need MTH 045/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. 

FastTrack - The FastTrack program is designed to give incoming freshmen the opportunity to move ahead in their required mathematics coursework, providing them with a faster time to complete their mathematics sequence.

Retroactive Credit -  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 the student's transcript shows no record of prior or concurrent enrollment in MTH 151, 207, 208, or 309. 

Credit by Exam - The Mathematics Department offers Credit by Exam in MTH 150 (College Algebra), MTH 151 (Precalculus), MTH 207 (Calculus I), and MTH 208 (Calculus II). These exams are only available for incoming freshmen. Credit by Exam for MTH 150 is usually given in 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 2017 Offerings: Mathematics (General Education)

What do I need to know about taking a Modern (foreign) Language?

Not all majors at UWL 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 608.785.8074. 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 2017 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 Administration or the College of Liberal Studies. It’s your choice. Of course, if you are in the College of Science and Health, or declared in a pre-professional track, every effort will be made to pre-register you in the appropriate science course for fall.   

"I want to take Biology.  Should I take BIO 100 or 105?" This is a great question for your advisor. They will have a recommendation based on your major. 

"I want to take Chemistry this fall." Should I take CHM 100 or 103? This is a great question for your advisor. They will have a recommendation based on your major. Advising note: If you place into MTH 150 (College Algebra) or lower, you must complete MTH 150 prior to taking 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 2017 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 2017 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 100) 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 2015

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 twelve 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 the University.  Think you don't need it?  The majority of students that take the course highly recommend it to first year students.

Do I need to declare a major before attending START?

If we are aware of your intended major before you arrive for START, we will pre-register you for key classes required for that particular major. Those classes will already be on your schedule when you arrive and you will build the rest of your schedule around those key courses with General Education courses or other courses of interest.

If you chose to begin your college career as an "Undeclared" major, you will most likely be pre-registered in a Literacy course pertaining to writing or communications(ENG 110/112 or CST 110). You will build the rest of your schedule with courses from the other categories of General Education.  

Can I still change my major?

It is completely OK to change your mind about your major after you have completed the survey. You can go back into the survey and change your major until June 1st. What is most important is that you attend an advising session at START for the major you have the most interest in. And, if you have multiple interests, it will be most advantageous to meet with an advisor for the Academic Advising Center. They can give you suggestions for courses that will count toward your degree yet keep your options open until you can make a more informed decision about your major.

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 have already signed up for a START session and submitted your survey, you can go back into the survey form and and change your major until June 1st. As an Undeclared major, you will meet with an advisor who works specifically with exploring students and they will help you register for a schedule that allows flexibility in choosing your major later on in your academic career.

Undeclared students in the College of Liberal Studies, School of Arts & Communication, School of Education, and most undeclared majors in the College of Science & Health will be assigned a professional advisor in the Academic Advising Center for the fall semester. These advisors work specifically with undeclared students to provide assistance with major and career exploration.

Will participating in intercollegiate athletics affect my schedule?

If you plan on trying out for a fall sport, you should have indicated this on the survey you completed when you signed up for your START day. We will make every effort not to pre-register you for courses after 3 p.m. in order to keep that time open for practice. When you register for the remainder of your classes, you will also want to make sure you do not schedule a class after 3 p.m.

How will participating in marching band or trying out for a music ensemble affect my schedule?

The Screaming Eagles Marching Band and all music ensembles are classes for academic credit. Any UWL student can participate in the Screaming Eagles Marching Band. If you plan on participating in the marching band, be sure to become familiar with the information on their webpage.

Each music ensemble has its own entrance/audition requirements and practice time. Be sure to indicate on the survey, any ensembles for which you would like to audition. If you didn't indicate those ensembles on the survey, go back into the survey and add them before June 1st. You will be pre-registered for those ensembles. If you are not chosen for that particular ensemble, you will drop the class from your schedule

Should I try to work and go to school at the same 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.