October 23, 2006
Advising Tip: What about a W?
"What about a W?"
That's a good question. First, though, here's the process for withdrawing from a course:
Friday, November 10, is the last day to withdraw from a course for the term. In order to withdraw, you need to 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, and depending on how you answer some of the questions on the form, you'll most likely need an advisor's signature. You can make appointment with your advisor by calling 764-0332 or come to walk-in advising: see "This Week's News" for hours.
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Office, and in a couple of days a “W” will appear next to the course on your transcript indicating that you have withdrawn from the course.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 students during their first term (except if they withdraw from all of their courses) don't get W's on their transcripts.
Please, please, please, if you are planning on withdrawing from a course don't wait until Friday the 10th! It's tough on Fridays to find an instructor to sign a form, and the lines will be long in our office.
Ok, so when should you withdraw from a course? Often, it is better to "gut out" a tough course even it means settling for “C” rather than withdrawing and paying for the credits again. If, however, you know that you won't pass a course or that you aren't going to be as successful as you need to be, you probably should withdraw from a course. Also, if you're putting so much time and effort into one course that you are harming your performance in other courses, you should consider withdrawing from the problem course.
You should be careful about withdrawing if you're an international student or an intercollegiate athlete. If you aren't a U.S. citizen, you probably need to remain a fulltime student to stay in the country. Check with the International Center. If you are an athlete, you need to remain fulltime to keep your eligibility.
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.
True enough, but sometimes the decision as to whether or not to take a W is a little more complicated. Mostly, students need to be concerned about not establishing a pattern of W's, about demonstrating that they can't finish what they start. One-or-two W's through your eight semesters at Michigan is not a problem; a W every semester, that's a problem. 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.
The best tip — if you have doubts about withdrawing from a course, see your advisor, but do it now!
October 06, 2006
Advising Tip: LSA Concentrations vs. Professional Degrees
"Why can't I do a journalism (or a photography or a broadcasting or a marketing or…) concentration in LSA?"
This is a question that advisors get regularly from frustrated students who are surprised to learn that LSA doesn't offer any professional degrees. Furthermore, even the professional sounding LSA concentrations, for instance Screen Arts and Cultures (formerly Film and Video) or Economics, aren't professional programs. They help students develop the skills and acquire the knowledge to study film or the economy; they don't prepare them to become directors or financial analysts.
Underlying the students' frustration is the fear that they'll graduate without knowing how to do anything, that they will spend a great deal of time and a lot of money getting a degree that won't get them a job. The fact is that, while an LSA degree doesn't get a student ready to do any one thing, an LSA degree does help prepare a student to do almost anything.
LSA's goal is to give students a broad base of knowledge and to develop the analytical, communication, and collaborative skills that will serve them their entire lives and throughout their changing careers. Unlike the B-school, engineering, the Ed-school, etc., LSA doesn't prepare students for particular professions. Instead, LSA helps students develop the skills and acquire knowledge that will help them not only get their first jobs but will help them as their careers evolve over the next 40-50 years.
“Fine!” you might say. “But how is an LSA degree going to help me find a job when I graduate?”
The answer comes from the recruiters who come to campus. The vast majority say that they aren't looking for people with particular concentrations. Instead, they're looking for the individual who has done well academically and who can articulate what she/he has learned, whatever the concentration. Recruiters are also impressed when students demonstrate the ability to thrive in a variety of academic and cultural environments. Taking courses from a variety of disciplines and studying abroad are but two of many ways you can demonstrate your ability to succeed in changing circumstances. In addition to demonstrating academic success and adaptability, the students most attractive to employers seek career-related experiences while in school: the kind experiences you get by participating and by becoming a leader in a campus organization, by doing in community service projects, and by getting internships or jobs.
So you want to be a journalist, get into advertising, do human resources, etc.? Then write for the Daily or another campus publication, join a marketing club, or lead a community service project.
Talk to your LSA general advisor about your career interests relate to various concentrations, and go to the Career Center to find out about internship opportunities and to get career counseling. Also the Career Center web site has series of "Career Guides" that demonstrate how LSA concentration might translate to various careers. Don't, however, pick a concentration because you think it's a ticket to a particular job. Be confident that the knowledge and skills that you acquire in any LSA concentration will not only help you get your first job but will serve you throughout your personal professional life.