Friday, October 31, 2014

Getting Involved!

We have been meeting one on one with students to plan spring and intersession schedules since the beginning of the month and it has been exciting to see the diversity of interests and experiences that our students bring to their academics.  I am always surprised by the wonderful things Scranton students do with their free time.  However, I have also noticed that some students are foregoing campus and community involvement to focus completely on academics.  Considering the difficulty of some academic programs, that is understandable but I would like to argue that getting involved can actually help you succeed at Scranton!  

Getting involved will help you build connections!
Maybe your roommate is the best things since Pop-Tarts and you are really hitting it off or your floor is one big happy family.  Maybe you are local and still have a lot of high school friends to lean on.  However, it’s valuable to get involved in the community.  I’ve only met a small fraction of our student body but I know that we are blessed with intelligent, fun and energetic students.  Getting to know more people will help you feel connected and adding positive people to your life will add tremendous value to your experience.  Getting involved in campus activities is a wonderful way to accomplish that.

It can help you try something you’ve always wondered about!
We offer a wide variety of clubs, organizations and activities on campus.  You can get involved in something in academic areas, do club sports, service, get involved in the arts or embrace some multicultural activities.  Click here for a complete list of clubs we offer!  

Getting involved can help you discover something new about yourself!
And isn't that what college is supposed to be all about?! It can help you discover an unrealized passion or an ability you had yet to identify.  It can clarify your career interests and provide you with direction for the future.  Maybe you are a born leader, a natural thespian or a fabulous orator or debater.  You'll never learn these things sitting in your room playing Xbox.  

It can help you build your resume and your network!
Deeply developing your interests in college can make you more attractive to graduate schools and employers.  Get seriously involved in one or two things, fully exploring leadership in these areas and promoting positive changes.  It's great experience for the workforce and your dedication will make you stand out.  You will also meet other people with similar passion and dedication who will be assets to your career network.

It can improve your time management and grades!
On a whole, students who are seriously involved in campus activities are better at managing their time than their less involved peers.  Because they have many obligations to plan, they tend to be more intentional with their plans and more likely to make sure ahead of time that they have enough time to accommodate all of their interests.  As a result they tend to perform better academically.  Additionally, people who are involved tend to feel happier and more satisfied with college and happier people are just more productive!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Deciding If You Should Withdraw From a Course

No Win Situation
Midterm grades are in and things aren't going so well in that one class.  You got a deficiency report and an email from the Advising Center and you are wondering if you should stick it out or drop the class.  The decision to drop a course at this point in the semester is not to be made lightly.  You've come so far and probably committed a significant quantity of time and tuition dollars to this course.  You might be concerned about your GPA but equally worried about the impact of a "W" on you future goals.  The last day to withdraw from a course is NOVEMBER 10 so you can't put off a decision much longer...what's the right choice?

Know the Facts
Earning an "F" or a "D" can have a serious and detrimental impact on your GPA.  If your overall GPA falls below a 2.0, you will be placed on academic probation and potentially face dismissal.  While you can reverse the impact on your GPA by retaking the course in a future semester (at The University of Scranton only-not at another institution), the first grade will always remain on your academic transcript.  You do not earn credit for any course in which you earn an "F".   If you have pre-medical aspirations, you should know that some medical schools will average your grades for all attempts.  That means if you get an "F" the first time you take a course and earn an "A" the second time, they will regard your grade as a "C". 

A "W" does not impact GPA.  While it also remains on your academic transcript forever, it will not impact your academic standing and is generally not viewed as negatively as an "F" or a "D".  Taking a "W" might not be the right choice for everyone but it can sometimes be the only way to make the best of a bad situation.

Deciding What to Do
So should you drop or stick it out?  There is no easy answer but there are some steps you can follow to help you arrive at a decision:

  • Talk to your professor.  Don't skip this step even if you are worried that he or she is unapproachable or that the meeting will be awkward.  Talking to your professor can help you determine exactly where you stand in the course.  At this meeting you should be trying to figure out the answers to questions like:  what exactly is my grade right now?  What is contributing to my deficiency at this point?  (test or quiz grades? attendance? projects?)  What is the maximum grade I can receive in this course?  Is it realistic to think I can pass?  If I remain in the course, what strategies can I employ to maximize my efforts?
  • Talk to an advisor.  We can help you sort out the facts and weigh your options.  There is a lot of information to consider.  For example, for some courses, you only have to pass.  In some, you must earn a "C" or better.  In that case, hanging on for a "D" doesn't make sense.  We can also help you determine what your options are for repeating a course.  If you decide to remain in the class, we can connect you with resources to make your semester more successful.  If you decide to drop, you can start the process in our office.  
What do I do if I want to drop?
 You will need to pick up a drop form and talk to an advisor first.  Then you will need to obtain your instructor's signature.  Finally, you will bring the form to Mrs. Butler in STT 208.  All of this can take a little while, so don't wait until the last minute!

 Katie Robinson
CAS Academic Advisor

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Midterm Grades

Welcome back from break!  I hope it was a restful break that provided you with time to catch up with friends and family while catching up on rest and work! Fall Break is essentially the half way mark for your first semester at Scranton.  To help you determine how well it is going so far, you as a freshman will be receiving midterm grades in the next couple of days.  

What is a midterm grade?

Midterm grades are not a permanent part of your academic record.  They are only meant to serve as an indicator of your performance so far.  You can use your midterm grades to make some informed decisions.  Are you doing as well as you would like so far?  Are your grades a little lower than expected?  Now is a good time to consider your time management, study skills and study strategy.  Is it paying off for you or do you need to make some adjustments?  Talk to an advisor or your faculty if you need some help!

When will midterm grades become available?

Faculty must submit midterm grades for all first year students by 1:00PM on Thursday.  That means that grades should be available for you to view online by Friday, October 17.  

How do I view my midterm grades?

Midterm grades will be available online through myscranton.  The process to view them is easy! Just login to my.scranton and then click the student tab.  Your semester grades should be visible at the top.  Click the midterm link!

Why do my grades say NG?

Faculty only submit midterm grades for first year students.  If you have more than 30 credits that you transferred in from other institutions or from Advanced Placement, you are no longer considered a freshman by credits.  If you are curious about your performance, you should contact your professors to discuss your progress.

 Oh No!  I got a deficiency!!  What does that mean?!?!

Any grade of C- or below is considered a deficient grade.  That is because all students must maintain a GPA of 2.0 or higher to remain in good standing at the University of Scranton.  If you earn a GPA of less than 2.0, you will be placed on academic probation.  Your midterm grades DO NOT count toward your GPA...they are just used to project what your GPA would be if the semester ended right now.  We send you an email if you earn a midterm deficiency so we can warn you of the problem and help you figure out how to get on track!

I'm failing!  What do I do?!?!?!?

If things are not going so well in a course and you feel it is unlikely that you will be able to improve your grade, you might consider withdrawing from the course.  You have until November 10 at 4:30PM to withdraw.  When you drop a course at this point in the semester, you will earn a "W" on your transcript.  This "W" will remain on your transcript even if you retake the course.  However, it is important to note that sometimes it is better to withdraw from a course.  A "W" does not impact your GPA.  If you think you might want to consider dropping a course, come to the CAS Advising Center to discuss.  

Katie Robinson
CAS Academic Advisor

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Study Strategies

Over the course of the last week, I’ve seen a spike in the tension and stress of the students who come to my office as so many have been preparing for and taking midterm examinations.  First exams in college and first midterms can be a real eye opener.  Friday is the semester midpoint.  That means that your midterm grade will likely reflect all graded material received up to that point.  Midterm grades are an opportunity to determine if your study strategies are paying off and if they aren’t, to contemplate making some adjustments.  While no two people will benefit from the exact same strategies, there are some tips that we can share that really seem to work!

There's a time and a place...

At the beginning of September, I wrote about the importance of making time for studying...and usually, that's a lot more time than in high school.  Try to find at least 2-3 hours a week for every hour you spend in the classroom.  Your efforts should be as distraction free as possible, so choose a place like the library or a quiet study room and put your phone and other distractions away as often as possible.   Read our post about time management and developing a study attitude for more help on this!

Get Active!

It's not enough to just be hitting the books--you need to get actively involved with the material to make your study time the most meaningful.  There are a number of strategies you can employ to get actively involved in your work!


Highlight Selectively or Not at all!!

Highlighting while you read can be an excellent technique to allow you to isolate the most important points from a text so you can easily identify them and recall them when you go back through your text to study at another time. However, beware the PINK PAGE!! If you are highlighting more than a few lines on each page, than you might as well not be highlighting at all. Highlighting everything on a page means that you aren't using the highlighter to help you draw out the main ideas from the're just wasting ink and probably not getting very much out of your reading!

Consider a Tried and True Method--Like SQ4R

Methods like the SQ4R have been helping students get involved with their text for years.

  • Survey--Before reading the chapter, look at headings, bold words and chapter summaries. Glance over any diagrams and photos.  You do this to try to get an idea of what you can expect to learn in the chapter.   
  • Question--Turn chapter titles and section headings into questions.  You will try to answer these questions as you read.
  • Read--Read the chapter to answer your questions.
  • Recite--Answer your questions and explain main points to yourself out loud.  This may seem funny but the more senses you involve in the learning experience, the more likely it is that you will absorb what you are studying!
  • wRite--Write the answers to your questions.
  • Reflect--think about what you have learned and what implications that information may have for your knowledge of the subject.  Does what you learned leave you with additional questions?

Get Stuck On Sticky Notes!

Sometimes the temptation to focus on efficiency when reading your text can make you miss a lot of information.  To remedy that, consider using sticky notes!  For each page or section you read, summarize the information on a sticky note (not one of those big ones, either)!  If you can't summarize what you read, you weren't involved enough in the reading.  You can review these notes later when you go back through your text!

Make your own test!

This tip can be a little time consuming but is totally worth it in the end.  As you go through your notes from class and your text notes, consider developing your own set of questions and answers that you can study from later.  If you have tried to imagine every question your professor could as and know how to answer them, you will have a good shot at doing very well on the exam.  This is where having a study group will come in handy!  If you divide a subject into parts for which each person develops questions, you will have homemade tests to study from with less investment by any single individual!

Use Index Cards!

Put key terms or definitions on index cards and place the answers on the flip side.  You can use these to quiz yourself and your friends!  The process of creating and using the cards will help you get more involved in the material.  Plus you can bring them anywhere so you can sneak in a little study time while you are waiting for a class to start or for friends to arrive for dinner.

Those who can, teach!

Try teaching the material to your friends, classmates or more patient members of your family.  Try explaining it to someone who might not have any understanding of the information.  The act of trying to determine how to make your dad  understand the Krebs Cycle, for example, will force you to think of the information in creative ways and it will reinforce what you know while highlighting what you need to focus on next.

Do all questions, problems and homework even if they aren't collected!

In college your professors might not require you to do your homework problems or read the text but the expectation is that you are.  Learning in college is much more self directed.  Maybe no one tells you that you have to do the work or checks up on you, but when test time comes around, you will be happy you did!

Ask for help!

Go to the CTLE for a tutor and talk to your professor if you are struggling.  They are here to teach you as much as you are here to learn.  Come to see us in the CAS Advising Center if we can help!

Anything to add?

If you have a technique that helps you that I haven't mentioned, share it in the comments!

Katie Robinson
CAS Academic Advisor

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Although it may seem like the semester has only just begun, it’s time to start planning your Intersession and Spring 2015 class schedule!  Freshmen register for classes online on Friday, November 21.  You will need a PIN for registration. You will meet with an advisor between October 6 and November 20 to get your course selections approved and obtain your PIN.  By now you should have picked up a letter telling you when your appointment will be.   Call Mrs. Burke at 570-941-6323 to reschedule if your appointment time doesn’t work! Preparing for that appointment can feel a little overwhelming but read on for tips for a successful pre-registration!


Preparing for Pre-Registration

  • Pick up your appointment letter in the CAS Advising Center in STT 209 (You should have done this by now!)
  • Attend a Pre-Registration Information meeting.  Contact your department chair to find out when these meetings will take place.  If you do not have a major, come to the CAS Advising Center to sign up for a time. 
  • Fill out the Planning Guide for Spring Registration which you received when you got your appointment time.  Bring this with you to your meeting.
  • Look at the online catalog, especially the section for your major, and compare it to your CAPP sheet to determine what courses you need to stay on track for your major.  Click here or come to advising for help reading your CAPP!
  • Completely fill out your Course Registration Form by accessing the Online Course Search to determine the CRNs and section numbers for the specific times and professors you want for each of your courses.  This is what a completed course registration form should look like!

  • Don’t forget:  If you are registering for BIOL 111 & 111L, BIOL 142 &142L, CHEM 113 & 113L or WRTG 106, you must register for the same section you currently have for the prior course!

Seeing is believing! 


If you are more of a visual person, we have a short video designed to help you get the most out of the course search process!  It explains how to prepare for your appointment and navigate the course search like a pro! Click here to view it!

But I don't like my major...

It’s not uncommon for a first year student at this point in the semester to feel dissatisfied with his or her first major choice.  Maybe…

  • You find your major is not what you expected;
  • You have discovered that you love another subject area much more;
  • You find your major is not the best match for your abilities;
  • You don’t like the career options directly related to this major.

It’s perfectly normal to change your major or to explore other options in the spring semester.  You can discuss this with your advisor during your pre-registration appointment but you don’t have to wait that long…come to the CAS Advising Center and we can help you consider your options!

But I don't have a major!! How am I supposed to pick classes?!

If you have explored areas which you have enjoyed but are not sure if you want to major in them, it's OK to continue exploring them by taking the next logical class.  You can figure out which class to take next either by consulting the plan for that major in the catalog or by asking an advisor.  You can also completely abandon the majors you have explored and try new things.  An advisor can help you determine how best to explore other majors.

If you have no idea what appeals to you, it makes sense to start off by figuring out what majors are available to you.  Here is a complete list of majors offered at the University of Scranton! 

If you feel completely lost, we are here to help!  You can work one on one or take advantage of one of the programs available to you!  You can participate in an undecided student workshop designed to help you determine your interests, values and skills and how those unique traits intersect with majors and careers.  You can work with an advisor or you can receive personal career counseling through a number of avenues.  Just let us know how to help!

Katie Robinson
CAS Academic Advisor