Frequently Asked Questions – Academics
Q. Is my academic advisor the person responsible for planning which courses I’ll take to get my degree?
A. Your advisor is responsible for giving you up-to-date information about the requirements for a degree with a particular major (and/or minor) and for approving your course selections. YOU are responsible for arranging meetings with the advisor, implementing the strategy the two of you agree to by checking when the right courses are available and registering in plenty of time to get into them. If there is a glitch or conflict (key courses are filled, or you want to drop something, etc.), you are responsible for setting up another meeting. This is called commitment to the advisement process, and it can spell the difference between staying on a smooth trajectory toward successful graduation or floundering around and possibly failing.
Q. When I see a great course being offered that I’d like to take, but worry about spending time on credits I can’t use toward my degree, whom do I see?
A. During your first semester, you were assigned a faculty advisor in your major/minor to help you make choices and plan strategies to ensure your academic success. This is the person who can help you. If you are undeclared and have not yet decided on a major, you will be assigned an advisor at the Academic Advisement Center (AAC). You can find out the name of your advisor by going into your Banner Web account and looking under student information or by calling the AAC at 203-837-8397.
Q. When and how should I make an appointment to see my advisor?
A. You should make an appointment to see your academic advisor when you want to plan for your next semester, when you have questions about academic policies and procedures, or when you need help locating other helpful resources on campus. A few words of advice: Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule an appointment. If you plan ahead, you will have more choices of required courses available to you, and you will be far less stressed out! Also, you can be sure that your advisor will have time to devote to you and your concerns. You can make an appointment with your advisor in three ways: by phone, via email and/or in person.
Q. Do I have to see my advisor to register for classes, even if I know what I want to take?
A. Yes. You must schedule an appointment to see your advisor prior to registration to ensure that you’re taking courses that fulfill your requirements. Also, you will need your advisor’s signature on a course selection card or your registration PIN for online registration.
Q. What is a “program sheet?” How do I get one?
A. All matriculated students should have a program sheet, which outlines courses you must take to fulfill your academic requirements. As you take courses at the university, you and your advisor will work with the program sheet to indicate your progress and determine which requirements you still need to fulfill. Think of your program sheet as a roadmap toward your academic goals.* Students should have received a program sheet from the Admissions Office if they transferred credits to Western from another school. This program sheet will indicate courses that will be taken at Western and those already completed. If you are new to Western, you may pick up a blank program sheet in the Admissions Office, department chair’s office, faculty advisor’s office, Registrar’s Office, the Academic Advisement Center or online at wcsu.edu/academics/programsheets.
*Western is currently in the process of moving from General Education Requirements to a Competency based system. Program sheets are being updated and should be ready for Spring 2017.
Adding a Course
Q. When and how can I add a course?
A. To add courses, you must make your request before the fourth class session for courses which meet three times a week or before the third class session for courses which meet twice a week. Any requests later than the first week of classes will require the approval of the department chairperson. Added courses which result in overloads also need the approval of the dean. For more information go to: http://www.wcsu.edu/registrar/forms.asp
Appealing a Grade
Q. How do I appeal my final grade?
A. For more information, please refer to the Grade Appeal Policy.
Q. Is there a ‘cut limit’ at Western? What if the course is easy for me and I can get by just by studying someone else’s notes and the text?
A. You’re talking about attendance, right?
You should know that each instructor designs attendance regulations for his or her classes and will announce them at the beginning of the semester. You have to meet those requirements or risk failing the course. Most instructors regard good attendance as additional evidence of a student’s progress, and a number of them do not give top marks to students who only show up for the minimum number of classes, even if exam scores are high. Preparation and participation are also key. The university expects students to spend about two hours on preparation for every one hour of class, which is pretty much the norm for all colleges. The fact is, even if the course is tough for you, if you show up and show this kind of effort, it may well be the difference between passing and failing.
Contacting a Professor
Q. How do I get in contact with my professor outside of class?
A. Professors usually list their contact information on the top of their syllabus which is handed out on the first day of class. Many professors post office hours online or outside of their office door. You could either call your professor, email or stop by the office during office hours. If you are still having difficulty contacting the professor, call or see the department secretary. The secretary can provide you with the contact information from the syllabus or forward a message on your behalf. A list of department secretaries and their contact information is provided in this handbook.
Q. What are the criteria for making the Dean’s List?
A. The answer is easy: hard work. Complete 12 standard-graded semester hour credits with at least a 3.5 average (those three A’s and that tag-along B, or 2 A-minuses and two B-pluses, etc.). Do it in a single semester if you are a full-time student, or in one academic year if you are part-time. All work must be completed at the time grades are officially posted to the student’s academic record. For more information refer to the WCSU website at http://www.wcsu.edu/registrar/policies.asp
Dropping a Course
Q. Is withdrawing from a course the same as dropping it?
A. No, although you must notify the registrar and your instructor when withdrawing from, as well as dropping, a course. You can drop a course during the first week it is offered and it will not appear on your transcript. But if dropping the course without replacing it causes you to lose full-time status (less than 12 semester hour credits, meaning you are not taking enough credits), you must change your status from full-time to part-time, or you must request to withdraw from that course, which will then appear on your record with a grade of W. Be aware: financial aid, housing and your insurance may be impacted by any negative change in your course-credit status. For more information about dropping a course refer to http://www.wcsu.edu/registrar/forms.asp. For more information about withdrawing from a course refer to http://www.wcsu.edu/registrar/schange.asp.
Q. What if I can’t make it to the final exam?
A. Connecticut State University System rules state that final examinations (cumulative examinations) may be given only in the time period scheduled for such tests. That’s a pretty unbendable rule, so make sure you don’t make unwise plans, like unchangeable plane reservations. Other types of tests may be given throughout the term, but that’s a call your instructor must make.
Q. How do I compute my overall Grade Point Average?
A. Listed below are the number values derived from your grades. Your grade point average is calculated based on these values and the number of credits earned. It’s true — the GPA you earn by graduation will follow you wherever a college degree really matters!**
|A||4.0||C-||1.67||P||Pass on Pass/Fail Option|
|A-||3.67||D+||1.33||FP||Fail on Pass/Fail Option|
|B-||2.67||F||.0||WFP||Withdrawn failing from a Pass/Fail course|
|C+||2.33||AUD||Audit||RM/RP*||Given in specified courses to permit you to|
|C||2.0||INC||Incomplete||improve competence without academic penalty|
*Courses in which the RM or RP grade is allowed to be given:
CHE 100, COM 160/161/162, WRT 098/099/101, FR 161/162/163/164, GER 161/162/163/164, IT 161/162/163/164, MAT 098/100, PHY 110/111, SPA 161/162/163/164
**For a more detailed explanation of the above and other letter grades, consult the current undergraduate catalog, available at wcsu.edu/catalogs/undergraduate/academic-services-procedures/ section entitled Grades, Honors and Good Standing.
Graduating with Honors
Q. What does “Graduating with Honors” mean?
A. The following universally recognized honors are conferred upon graduating seniors who achieve them by earning the grade-point average required. (All students must have earned a minimum of 45 credits at Western to be considered.)
Summa Cum Laude – 3.9 to 4.0
Magna Cum Laude – 3.7 to 3.89
Cum Laude – 3.5 to 3.69
Guidelines on Classes Missed Because of University-Sponsored Events
Q. What happens if one of my games or concerts is scheduled during my class time?
A. There is not one answer. Please read the guidelines by the University Senate below:
Each semester students and professors must deal with the inevitable conflict between class and university-sponsored co-curricular activities. As the university grows and the student body becomes more diverse, it is clear that student activities outside the classroom will continue to increase. It is the purpose of these guidelines to spell out the relationship between the two activities, and to suggest a way of accommodating any potential conflict between the two.
It is the responsibility of all students to recognize that meeting the requirements of all classes is their first priority. It is the student’s responsibility to communicate with their professors before a conflict occurs, if possible, to ensure that all classroom work is properly made up. It is also the student’s responsibility to make up all required work as well as to become familiar with the material presented in the class that was missed.
By definition, university-sponsored events are legitimate, co-curricular events that are scheduled through a university department or entity, with adequate notice to all parties. For example, participation in a sports contest or a museum trip for the university would be such an event, but attending a practice session would not. It is requested that faculty members understand the depth of the students’ commitment, allow reasonable accommodation of student activities and permit work missed because of legitimate university events to be made up. To download the Missed Classes Form go to: http://www.wcsu.edu/stuaffairs/forms.asp. This form was approved by the University Senate at the 10/20/2004 Senate meeting and is the correct form to use.
Leave of Absence
Q. I am no longer able to concentrate on my studies and need to take a break. What do I do?
A. If you find you have to leave school for a period of no more than one year, you can apply for a leave of absence. It’s similar to withdrawing from the university, but it means you may return and resume your studies without having to formally re-enter the university. Students interested in applying for a Leave of Absence should complete the forms with a representative from the Registrar’s Office. One-semester leaves may be extended with the permission of the dean but approval of the extension must be secured before the original leave time has lapsed. Forms are available in the Office of the Registrar. For more information refer to: http://www.wcsu.edu/registrar/schange.asp and the Registrar’s Forms page at http://www.wcsu.edu/registrar/forms.asp
Q. What are the basic borrowing rules at Western’s libraries?
A. Guidelines for borrowing materials at the libraries:
- You must have a current Connecticut State University (CSU) ID card to borrow books and reserve materials. The CSU Library System (CONSULS) online catalog is available at http://www.consuls.org. Periodical and research databases are available from http://libguides.wcsu.edu/databases
- Users may borrow circulating materials from all other CSU libraries and have them delivered to the Haas or Young libraries.
- Circulating materials borrowed at one location may be renewed or returned at either the Haas or Young library, or at any of the other CSU libraries. Reserve material must be returned to the lending library.
- Books may be renewed online by going to the library’s <My Records> link in CONSULS (http://www.consuls.org/patroninfo). From the drop-down menu, select <Western>, enter your university windows username and password in the dialog boxes provided.
- Books and media circulate for 28 days, unless requested by another user, and may be renewed once for an additional 28 days.
- Fines are ten cents per day for books and $1 per day for videos, CDs and DVDs.
- All overdue books must be returned. All fines, replacement and processing fees must be paid by the end of the semester to be able to register for classes, receive diplomas, or obtain transcripts. Library fines exceeding $10 will prevent access to borrowing books, requesting books from other CSU libraries and linking to online library databases from off campus.
Q. Is library information available from off-site locations?
A. The libraries provide 24/7 virtual access to a wide variety of databases that furnish full text access to thousands of journals, magazines, newspapers, art images and streaming classical and jazz audio files. These resources, along with a growing number of e-books can be found on the library webpages and can be accessed on or off campus using your university window’s ID and password.
Q. When do midterm grades come out?
A. The first grade report comes approximately nine weeks into the semester. These midterm grades don’t show permanently on your transcript, and they don’t factor into your GPA — but they do reflect the progress you are making in each class. If you’re running a D, F or INC, that’s a warning! You need to see your instructor about getting help. Or talk to your advisor. You might want to think about withdrawing from that class – but remember, financial aid, housing, health insurance, etc., may be impacted by any negative change in your course-credit status. The important thing to remember is that a D, F or INC grade at midterm is a red flag and is the time to make a change through your instructor, advisor, Academic Advisement or any WCSU faculty or staff member who you feel comfortable approaching.
Plagiarism & Cheating
Q. What exactly is plagiarism?
A. For more information, see the Academic Honesty Policy.
Q. What happens if I accidentally register for classes that overlap or are on different campuses?
A. Our system is set up to let you know if classes you are trying to register for overlap but it will not warn you if you are registering for classes on different campuses. Pay special attention to the following building codes:
BR – Berkshire Hall, Midtown campus
HA – Higgins Annex, Midtown campus
HI – Higgins Hall, Midtown campus
HL – Haas Library, Midtown campus
KHH – Kathwari Honors House, Midtown campus
ON – O’Neill Center, Westside campus
SB – Science Building, Midtown campus
VPAC – Visual & Performing Arts Center, Westside campus
WA – Warner Hall, Midtown campus
WH – White Hall, Midtown campus
WS – Westside Classroom Building, Westside campus
Off Campus Sites:
WE – Ekstrom Hall, Waterbury
WF – Founders Hall, Waterbury
WK – Kinney Hall, Waterbury
WSC – NVCC Student Center, Waterbury
WT – Technology Hall, Waterbury
NW – West Campus, Norwalk CC
Make sure you have enough time between classes to get from one campus to the next (you should plan at least 30 minutes between Midtown and Westside). Do not register for a class in Waterbury if you have no way of getting there.
Registration PIN Numbers
Q. How do I get my Registration PIN Number? When do I register?
A. Check your WCSU email account regularly for registration information.
- Log into WestConnduit to find out who your adviser is and the earliest date you can register. Click on the Banner tab and select “Check Registration Status.”
- Make an appointment with your adviser one to two weeks in advance of your registration date. Find out when their office hours are and either stop by or email/call ahead to make an appointment. Don’t forget to leave your contact information.
- Look at your program sheet and pick a potential schedule for next semester using Open/Close. (Program sheets list the degree require- ments for each major and can be found online at
www.wcsu.edu/aca demics/programsheets or may be obtained in the relevant academic department, the office of the School Dean, or at the Admissions Office).
- Bring the program sheet and tentative schedule when you see your adviser.
- Discuss your choices, follow your adviser’s advice, get your PIN number
(remember: this PIN number changes every semester).
- Register online for the classes your adviser recommends.
Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
Q. What is Satisfactory Academic Progress?
A. Satisfactory academic progress is generally a measurement of successful completion of coursework (GPA) and completion of credits within a defined time period. There are several areas on campus for which Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) is important and they include financial aid, housing, and athletics. Please familiarize yourself with each area’s individual SAP requirements by looking at their webpages.
Q. My study skills are not great. I’m not good at note-taking in history or English, and I’m clueless about math — and I have a major math exam coming up!
A. There’s a lot of that going around. The cure is TLC (what we call The Learning Centers): three professionally-staffed centers that provide guidance and instruction to students who need help in specific subjects or who just want to get some really effective studying techniques. All three centers are connected to Western’s mainframe computer (with Internet capability) and are equipped with computers for your use.
The centers are located in the Haas Library (Writing Center and Tutoring Resource Center) and Higgins Hall (Math Clinic) and are open weekdays, selected evenings and, when possible, weekends. Students work one-on-one with staff or student tutors in a friendly, supportive atmosphere. You can also choose to work independently on computers or form small study groups. Call or come by the centers to find out how they work!
The Math Clinic (Higgins Hall 105A; 203-837-9244) is run by the mathematics department. The Math Clinic works on a first-come, first-served, walk-in basis and is free of charge. Appointments cannot be made. The tutors in the clinic are there to support the needs of students taking undergraduate mathematics courses. Occasionally tutors will try to help students with general math questions in non-mathematics classes, but this is not their primary purpose or expertise. In general, the tutors will be helping groups of students in a variety of courses. There is no extended one-on-one tutoring in the Math Clinic; students interested in extended one-on-one tutoring are directed to the Tutoring Resource Center. Note that tutors will not help with take-home exams, and other forms of assessments that must be completed by the individual student.
The Tutoring Resource Center (TRC) in the Haas Library, 2nd floor; 203-837-9245 provides assistance to students who need one-on-one tutoring, free of charge, in any academic discipline taught on both WCSU campuses. Students also may participate in the TRC sponsored workshops, which cover concepts such as note-taking, test-taking, time management, research and other relevant topics. Students may choose to work one-on-one with WCSU professor-recommended student tutors in a friendly, supportive atmosphere, or they may choose to work independently on the TRC computers or to form small study groups. This center is an important hub for students to maintain their academic success. Details of current TRC activity are on the website at wcsu.edu/trc.
In the Writing Center (Haas Library 302; 203-837-8728) students get free tutoring. The Center’s writing consultants, mostly graduate students, offer guidance in all aspects of writing, from development and organization to editing and proofreading. An interested student should make an appointment for a tutorial session at least a week before the deadline on the writing assignment. The writing consultant may recommend a follow-up appointment. Undergraduates may use WCSU’s online Writing Lab at eTutoring.org. All services are free to registered students.
Withdrawing from a Course
Q. How do I withdraw from a course? Just quit going to class?
A. Absolutely NOT. You must withdraw formally or you will receive an “F” for the course. First, check with the registrar to see if it’s not too late to withdraw, then submit the necessary documentation. wcsu.edu/registrar/schange.asp Tell your instructor you are withdrawing — and, if you haven’t consulted your adviser yet, it would be smart to let him/her know, too. Never just quit going to class!