October 24, 2008

Advising Tip: Should I drop this class?? How do I do it?

If you're reading this, then you're thinking about dropping a class. Or you've already decided to drop a class and can't figure out how to do it (becuase Wolverine Access won't let you!)

Should I drop the class?

Things to consider:

1) How are you doing in the class right now? You should talk to your instructor to make sure you understand what your current grade for the class is, what a realistic projection of your final grade would be, and what it would take on your part to get that grade.

2) Are you willing/able to put in the work to raise your grade? Again, be realistic. Don't think that if you have a D right now you'll be able to get As on the rest of your exams/papers to pull you up to a B. Talk with your instructor! Also consider the potential impact of the extra work on your other classes.

3) Are you an intercollegiate athlete, international student, or have financial grants? You may have to stay full time, or carry a minimum number of credits. Check with your coach, the International Center, or Financial Aid/Scholarships. Note that with financial aid, the date you drop the class can be crucial. Ask about that.

Can I drop a class? Won't I get a "W" on my transcript? Doesn't a W look bad?

Good questions...the first 2 have easy answers, the 3rd is a little more tricky and requires you to make a judgement call.

1) NO, it is not too late to drop a class. You have until Friday Nov 7th to do so. However, the sooner you make this decision the better off you'll be. It will free up time for you to spend on other courses, as well as provide some psychological relief.

2) YES, you will get a "W" on your transcript (unless this is your first full semester here at UM....first years, transfer students from other universities).

3) How does a W look on your transcript? Here's a simple answer: a W looks a lot better than a D and whole lot better than an E. Will one W really mess up your transcript? One or two W's through your eight semesters at Michigan is not a problem; a W every semester, that's a problem. The concern in this latter situation is about an established pattern of W's which demonstrate that you can't finish what you start. Also for a pre-med student or for another pre-professional student, a few W's in the junior or senior year might make an admissions officer question the student's decision making skills. But again, a W will almost always look better than a lousy grade.

How do I drop a class?

Friday, November 7, is the last day to withdraw from a course for the term.

1) You'll need a "Late Drop" form (also available at the Newnan LSA Advising Center, 1225 Angell Hall). You'll need to get your instructor or GSI to sign the form.

2) Complete the form and bring it to the Advising Center. We'll stamp the form, keep part of it, and give you the rest of it to take to the Registrar's Office, and in a couple of days a “W” will appear next to the course on your transcript indicating that you have withdrawn from the course. That is, unless you're a first-year student in your first term. First-year and transfer students during their first term (except if they withdraw from all of their courses) don't get W's on their transcripts.

Special note on mini-courses that started last week or this week--you need to got to the Registrar's Office (1st floor, LSA Building) to drop the class, before the drop deadline for that course (typically Nov 3-5). Check the LSA Course Guide for details on your particular course.

Posted by yunecs at 10:16 AM

October 20, 2008

Advising Tip: Graduate School on the mind...

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Many graduate programs here at Michigan will have open houses this month!!!  So if you are interested in graduate work Pharmacy, Public Health, Education, Nursing or Social Work  you should plan to attend their respective open house. 

The month of October is a good time to be thinking about the type of graduate program you are interested in, and more importantly whether you really want to go to graduate school right after you finish your Bachelor's degree.

What are some things to think about?

First...WHY do you want to go to graduate school? Because you don't know what else to do is NOT a good reason. Because your parents think you should is NOT a good reason. You should go to graduate school because it is best for YOUR long-term goals. If you are having a hard time figuring out what do instead of grad school there are a few places you should visit: The Career Center http://www.careercenter.umich.edu/, and the International Center http://www.internationalcenter.umich.edu/swt/. Find out about domestic and international opportunities that you have...those once in a lifetime, "only while you're young" kind of experiences.

Second....WHICH graduate program is best for you? In many cases, your best resources are your professors. If you are planning on doing a Ph.D. in a field you are currently working in, ask your professor what kind of programs and schools are the best fit for what you want to do. Another good source of information about what it's like being a graduate student are your GSIs.  If you're thinking of some form of professional school, we have many of them here at UM!!! Even if you don't plan on staying here for graduate school, it doesn't hurt to ask what the program here is like! Both the advising center and the career center have pre-health and pre-law advisors if those are areas you are interested in.

Third....WHEN do you want to go to graduate school? Some programs accept a lot of students right out of undergraduate programs. Some programs want a few years of work experience. Some programs have a good mix. Talk to professors, talk to admissions counselors, and then LISTEN to yourself. This is not a race. You're not competing with anyone. Really. You need to make the most of each moment and each opportunity.

Talking to your advisor or professors can help you gain a little perspective on thinking about your life goals, and the right means for accomplishing them. Don't assume that you have to go to grad school, or you have to do a Ph.D. over a Master's degree. A lot of what is what you HAVE to do depends on WHAT you want to do. So figure out WHAT first.

Posted by yunecs at 01:08 PM

September 19, 2008

Advising Tip: Add/Drop and Pass/Fail

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Should I drop a class?

If you're getting the sense that a class you're in isn't really for you, that's the first factor in deciding to drop a class. If you're putting so much time and effort into one course that you are harming your performance in other courses, you should also consider dropping the problem course. As a next step, talk with your instructor to help you get a good sense of how you are really doing in the class. It's often very helpful to get an objective opinion (for example, maybe no one really is expected to understand every word from your French instructors mouth at this point).

You should be careful about withdrawing if you're an international student or an intercollegiate athlete. In either case, you may need to remain a full-time student (12 credits). Check with the International Center or an Athletic Advisor. If dropping a course will leave you at 11 credits you may be able to register for a minicourse that starts in October (do an advanced search on the LSA Course Guide for "minicourse"). If you are a junior or senior, other options may include pursuing an independent study project for credit. If you can drop below 11 credits and want to, make sure that you're still covered by your health insurance! If not, UHS does offer optional coverage for non-full time students that you can purchase.

If you drop a class on or before September 22, it will NOT appear on your trancript.

Should I add a class?

If you haven't added the class yet, but there is space in the class to do so, then there are 2 questions to ask:

A) Have you been attending class (i.e. do you know what's going on? are you caught up on the readings? have you taken all the quizzes?)?

If the answer to this is yes, then go ahead and add the class. If the answer to this is no, then you really need to see B)

B) Have you talked to the instructor about what you have missed so far? Sometimes you are really too far behind to catch up. You MUST talk with the instructor to find out if it is realistically too late to add the class. Better to carry fewer credits now then to have to withdraw later in the semester or worse yet, fail the class because you couldn't catch up.

Should I take a class pass/fail?

When does it make sense to take a course pass/fail? Pass/fail can be a good option if you’re taking a course in an area that you feel shaky in. Also, if you need to take a tough course load or if you know you’ll have heavy non-academic responsibilities during a term, taking a course pass/fail might make sense. Note, however that some graduate schools may ask to "uncover" those grades. But in general, you can take a class that you need for distribution credit pass/fail, or even your first semester of Arabic pass/fail....here are some rules to be aware of.

Basically, the rules are:

1. The fourth term of a language a student is using to meet the language requirement for a BA or BS cannot be taken pass/fail.
2.Courses that count toward a concentration or a minor cannot be taken pass/fail (prereqs to the concentration can be taken pass/fail).

Anything else can be taken pass/fail.

If you decide to take a course pass/fail, remember the following:

1.You need to earn at least a C- in the course to pass
2. Instructors have no idea (unless you tell them) that you’re taking their courses pass/fail
3. Pass/fail courses don’t have any impact on your GPA.

You have until Monday, Sept 22 to go into Wolverine Access and modify a course from graded to pass/fail (or vice versa). Exceptions are NOT granted to this deadline. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE...every semester I have students who think they modified a class but really didn't. Make SURE that the p/f option is reflected in your course schedule.

Posted by yunecs at 03:26 PM

August 29, 2008

Advising Tip: Getting in to classes

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The first week of class can be pretty hectic running around from class to class, trying to figure out if there's space in a particular section you want, which books you need for each class. Here are a few tips as you try and finalize your schedule for the Fall.

If you are on the waitlist for a class, there are 2 things you should be doing:

1) Go to the first day of class; professors will discuss the waitlist situation and policy in that first meeting.

2) Check your umich email account; if you get an override in to the class, you will receive an email and will have a certain number of hours to use the override (i.e. register for the class) before it expires. If you are having your umich email forwarded, be sure to check junk/spam mail folders too. You will have to first "drop" the class you are waitlisted for, then add it to your backpack and register for it. Yes, it's a little convoluted, but don't worry--if you have the override, then you have the override.

Attend all the classes you are registered for, otherwise you may be dropped from the class to make room for someone who was on the waitlist and did show up to the first day of class. If you are registered for one class and hoping to get in to another that meets at the same time, then you do run the risk of getting dropped from the first and still not being able to get in to the second.

Even though you technically can add and drop courses up until Sept 22, be aware that many classes will freeze waitlists and the ability to add the class over Wolverine Access (even if it looks like it's "open") on the first day of classes. You will have to contact professors and/or attend class to figure out if you are able to get in to the class. This is to facilitate the professor's management of the waitlist.

If you are thinking about taking a class pass/fail, you MUST make this election by Sept 22. There are NO EXCEPTIONS to this rule. You can elect to take any class (other than a class in your concentration or the 4th semester of your language requirement) pass/fail. The instructor is not notified; they will submit a grade and if you earn a C- or better you will pass and earn credit. Any type of D or E will result in a fail and not earning credit. Neither counts towards your GPA.

If you have any questions, please contact your academic advisor, or call 764-0332 to set up an appointment to talk with an advisor, or come to our walk-in hours from 10am-4pm September 2-8!!!



Posted by yunecs at 04:53 PM

August 21, 2008

Advising Tip: Where to buy books

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For those of you who are starting college for the first time (or starting at UM for the first time), you may be wondering where/when to buy your books. Here are a few tips:

First, figure out what books you need.  Check these online Michigan Bookstores to see if you courses/sections are listed, and you can see what books are needed. You may also see "coursepacks" listed, which are just a collection of photocopied articles.

Michigan Book and Supply
Michigan Union bookstore
Shaman Drum

If if can't find your course/sections on these bookstore websites, you can also try your Ctools page (www.ctools.umich.edu) and see if your instructors have posted a booklist or syllabus with that information yet.

Once you know what books you need, you can order your books online before you come.  You can either order them online though a Michigan bookstore, or an online retailer.  If you buy it from an online store like Amazon.com, make sure that you are ordering the correct edition!!!  Also be wary in this case you may have difficulty returning them if you decide not to keep a particular class.
If you can't find out what books you need, or if you just want to wait until you come to school in the Fall that is fine also.  Many students will do this, and you will not be academically disadvantaged if you choose to wait until you come back to campus; there is no reading that is required before the start of classes.

Finally, if you're looking for ways to reduce that textbook bill, here are a few things to try:

  • Order online early and get "used" copies; these are usually very gently used and in very good condition.
  • You can also try buying books from other UM students on-line at reduced prices, check out (you'll need UM kerberos password to access): https://marketplace.umich.edu/UofM/WebObjects/Marketplace
  • Also, there is usually a Student Book Exchange in the Union before school starts too. See here for details.
  • Use the library! You do not have to buy every book on your syllabus. Books and videos for most classes should be on reserve. If they're not, ask your professor to put them on reserve. Exercise your right to equal access to educational materials. Check out the books, music, and videos at the University's libraries.



Posted by yunecs at 11:34 AM

April 14, 2008

Advising Tip: Do Something

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It's that crazy time of the semester again...as we move in to the last week or two of the semester here are some tips on how to get through the rest of the semester, courtesy of Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS)....

10. De-stress. Go to www.mitalk.org/multimedia.php and download yoga and progressive muscle relaxation videos.

9. Go to academic office hours if you need extra help.

8. Party smart—if you drink, please do so in moderation. If you’re getting ready for finals, give your brain a chance to work at its full peak without substances.

7. Check out the 1-minute stress strategies on Wolverine Wellness www.uhs.umich.edu/wellness/stress/strategies.html.

6. For those graduating—savor the last weeks of your college experience—visit your favorite places, celebrate your time here, and make time to say goodbye.

5. Combat procrastination—don’t wait for motivation, just start the dreaded task.

4. Balance studying with playtime. Check out www.arborweb.com for fun things to do.

3. If you’re worried about a friend, talk with a CAPS Counselor-on-Duty about how to help.

2. Be compassionate with yourself and engage in self-care activities (e.g., get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, laugh, connect with others).
And the number one way to do something…….

1. Breathe. Pause. Reflect. Share this list with a friend and do something.

Posted by yunecs at 08:00 AM

March 03, 2008

Advising Tip: What now?

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Trying to figure out what to do with the rest of your life? Don’t know where to start?

For those of you who have yet to declare a concentration, a great place to start would be the Concentration Fair (March 26th, 11-3, Michigan Union) where all the LSA departments will be in ONE PLACE (no phone calls, no appointments, no running around in the cold).  You can ask questions about the concentration or minors the department offers, talk to current students, and start thinking about what might be the best fit for you.  LSA has a few new minors this year, including five in Chemistry and one in Peace and Social Justice (offered through the RC, but open to all LSA students).

For those of you who have declared a concentration and are looking towards graduate programs, March is also full of graduate school preparation/information sessions. Keep an eye out on the Advise Me Weekly homepage.  For example, Grad School 101 is on Tuesday March 4th (3-4:30, 1200 Chem) and Exploring Career Pathways for Graduate Professional Degree (Tuesday March 11th, same time and place) as part of the Planning Your Next Steps: Events for Juniors and Seniors series. There are also sessions specific to Law schools and Medical schools.

For those of you who applied to specific schools or programs— Organizational Studies or Communications, or Ross School of Business, Public Policy, Architecture--and were not successful, all is NOT lost.  Make an appointment to come in and talk with your advisor about your next steps (764-0332). There is such flexibility in the College of LSA that there is often a way to meet your interests and goals even if your original plan hasn’t come to fruition.  You can talk about designing your own concentration (the Individual Concentration Program), or designing your own degree program (the Bachelors of General Studies), or just take coursework from other colleges to supplement what you learn in LSA.  Advisors can also help you think more broadly about the skills and knowledge you want to acquire, and suggest different means of doing so.

For those of you who are done thinking about school and want to think about a job, or a career (and hopefully both!) there’s no better place to start than the Career Center (3200 Student Activity Building). They have information on internships, job fairs, and can help with your resume and interview skills. Another important service they offer is the reference letter service where they will store and mail out your reference letters for you (for a nominal fee). This means you can have your professor write a recommendation NOW, even if you aren’t applying for graduate schools until 2011.  Their website is pretty extensive…I highly recommend it.  In conjunction with working with the Career Center, don’t forget to talk with your concentration advisor about internship, research or other summer opportunities.

Posted by yunecs at 08:00 AM

February 04, 2008

Advising Tip: Taking a course elsewhere this Summer

T.S. Eliot once wrote that “April is the cruelest month.” Obviously, he didn't spend a February in Michigan .

Maybe you're dreaming of spring and considering enrolling in courses at a college or university closer to home after classes end here in April. This can be a great way to meet some requirements and, perhaps, save some tuition money. But there are few things you should keep in mind.

First, make sure the courses that you take at another college or university transfer to the U of M. If you go to http://www.lsa.umich.edu/lsa/students/req_conversion/ you can find links to lists of courses from schools around the country and the world that students have transferred in the past. If a course you want to take doesn't appear on the list, it may simply mean that no one has ever tried to transfer it to the U of M. In this case, you can go to http://www.admissions.umich.edu/oor/ and have the Admissions Office pre-approve the course you'd like to transfer. Also, be aware that after you have earned 60 credits, you can only transfer credits from a four-year school, not a community college or other two-year school.

Second, it is possible to use a course you take at another school to meet LS&A distribution requirements (NS, HU, SS, etc.). While your academic advisor can't officially confirm that the course meets distribution until it has transferred, s/he usually can let you know whether a specific course will count toward distribution.A quick meeting with your advisor (call 764-0332 to set up an appointment) with the course description in hand can help. Once the course has transferred, you can meet with your advisor and have the courses designated to meet the appropriate distribution areas.

Third, unless you get pre-approval from a concentration advisor, it's not a good idea to try to take a non-U of M course for your concentration plan, but it's generally OK to do pre-requisites at another school.

Fourth, it is virtually impossible to use a course from another college to meet the Race and Ethnicity, Upper Level Writing, and Language requirements. It's almost as difficult to use a non-U of M course (with the exception of Statistics or Physics courses) to meet the Quantitative Reasoning requirement. See your general advisor if you want more details (again, that's 764-0332 to schedule an appointment).

Fifth, you'll need to check with the school you might attend about its enrollment procedures. Some schools require that Spring/Summer students fill out guest applications or require that students certify that they are in good standing at the U of M. The Registrar's Office, temporarily located at 413 East Huron, can help you with these forms.

Sixth, after you complete the courses you take elsewhere, you need to have the transcript from that school sent to

Credit Evaluation
Undergraduate Admissions
University of Michigan
1220 Student Activities Building
Ann Arbor , MI 48109-1316 .

If you have any other questions about Spring and Summer courses, please email or make an appointment with your advisor (because you can never say it enough...764-0332).

And think warm thoughts.

Posted by yunecs at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2008

Advising Tip: Which classes can I take pass/fail?

Last semester at this time we asked (and hopefully answered) the question of whether you should take a course pass/fail...this semester I'd like to answer the question of which class you can take pass/fail.

Basically, the rules are:

1. The fourth term of a language a student is using to meet the language requirement for a BA or BS cannot be taken pass/fail.
2.Courses that count toward a concentration or a minor cannot be taken pass/fail (prereqs to the concentration can be taken pass/fail).

Anything else can be taken pass/fail.

If you decide to take a course pass/fail, remember the following:

1.You need to earn at least a C- in the course to pass
2. Instructors have no idea (unless you tell them) that you’re taking their courses pass/fail
3. Pass/fail courses don’t have any impact on your GPA.

You have until the end of the third week of each term to go into Wolverine Access and modify a course (on the registration page) from graded to pass/fail (or vice versa), and this term the deadline falls on Wednesday, January 23rd. After January 23rd, you have to live with your decision: exceptions are NOT granted to this deadline. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE...every semester I have students who think they modified a class but really didn't. Make SURE that the p/f or ungraded option is reflected in your course schedule. Exceptions to the pass/fail deadline are NOT granted.

You can, however, “uncover” your pass/fail grades. For what’s currently a $5.00 fee, the Registrar’s Office will attach to your official transcript a letter revealing the grades for all your pass/fail courses (these courses will not factor in to your GPA). Note that if you want to show one pass/fail grade, you have to show them all.In fact, medical schools, law schools, other professional schools, and grad schools very likely will require that you uncover your pass/fail grades.

Posted by yunecs at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2008

Advising Tip: January Blues

When I was in school, the worst months I had were three Januaries.

Continue reading "Advising Tip: January Blues"

Posted by yunecs at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

December 03, 2007

Advising Tip: End of Term

In the next few days you'll notice it. People will be scurrying across the Diag, looking preoccupied. There'll still be chatter and laughter, but the timbre will be more nervous, more subdued than it was just last week. People whom you haven't seen in class for weeks will start showing up for lectures and discussions, and the computer labs will be jammed. Perhaps for the first time, there'll be lines for your profs' office hours. The end of the term is almost here, and it's getting serious as the due dates for term papers approach and as final exams near.

If you've been working hard all semester, you'll be fine. Just take some time to survey your courses, checking what you have left to do and when you need to get it done. Go through your notes, previous exams, past homework, etc., and if there are any concepts you don't quite understand, see your instructors or GSIs during their remaining office hours. Or make an appointment.

If you haven't worked quite hard enough or have fallen behind in one-or-more courses, be realistic about how much of a salvage operation you can mount at this point. Try to take an objective look at what you have accomplished and what you have left to do in all your courses. If you're not exactly sure about what you have left to do in a course or whether you can pass, contact the instructor or GSI, now! Depending on what you find out, you might need to focus on a couple of the salvageable courses and let one-or-two courses go. If this is the case, you should make an appointment to see your advisor.

As deadlines and exams near, cramming and all nighters might seem unavoidable, but be realistic about how much you can truly learn in the last few hours before an exam. How long can you be truly productive without getting some sleep? Again, getting organized now, before the final crunch comes, could help you from having to spend the night before a paper is due snoozing on your keyboard. Put some opportunities in your schedule to go through your notes several times over the next few days rather than waiting just till the night before an exam.

Don't give into the temptation to try to re-read everything that was assigned before the exam. It's probably not possible to do this, and it would be ineffective. Instead, ask the instructor about the critical points to review before the exam. If the instructor doesn't offer much help in focusing your review, go back to your notes to see what he/she emphasized during lectures and discussions. That should help you figure out which sections of texts you should review.

No matter how much work you have, remember you need sleep, nutrition, and exercise to be at your best. Carve room out of your schedule for all of these. In particular, get enough sleep the night before a final. Also allow yourself some breaks where you can socialize with friends, roommates, etc. You're not the only one feeling pressure these days, and it's healthy to talk about it. If you're feeling overwhelmed, consider a visit to Counseling and Psychological Services: 3100 Michigan Union.

Above all else, keep it all in perspective. Sure grades are important, but they aren't life. The grades you get this term may have an impact on your future, but they won't determine it.

Posted by leverich at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2007

Advising Tip: Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving or #$%@&! Thanksgiving

Continue reading "Advising Tip: Thanksgiving"

Posted by leverich at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)