2.4 Academic Advising: Your Roadmap to a Bachelor’s Degree
Obtaining a bachelor’s degree can be easily likened to taking a cross-country trip. Let’s say that a person wanted to travel from Los Angeles to New York City. This person could take a more northern route and experience mountains and cooler temperatures. Or, this person might elect to take a more southern route and experience deserts, beaches, and warmer temperatures. A really adventurous person might elect to traverse the globe and see oceans, China, and Europe along the way. Earning a degree should be seen as a journey—a long term commitment to self-improvement through education. Many decisions will be made along the way that can take you down discrete paths in your quest for a degree that may ultimately lead you down different career paths based on your strengths and interests. Academic advisors will ultimately help you navigate your academic journey.
Who Is Your Academic Advisor?
Typically in high school, students were automatically enrolled in a course schedule for a full academic year. These schedules were most likely created by a guidance counselor based on your student record and some administrative input. However, in college, students create their course schedule each semester with the help of an academic advisor, not a counselor. In your first academic year, you will be meeting with full-time professional academic advisors from the University Advising Center in the Division of Student Success who will help you navigate your first-year courses and provide additional support as you “learn the ropes.” Once you leave the Division of Student Success, you will be advised within your major academic department. In this case, your academic advisor could be a professional staff advisor, a faculty member who agrees to take on advising responsibilities, or even a graduate assistant who works under the supervision of an advising administrator. While being advised by the Division of Student Success, you are not discouraged from talking with the academic advisors of your major department. In fact, in some cases, the Division of Student Success advisors may request that you speak with a departmental advisor to answer specific questions. However, you should always check in with a Division of Student Success advisor before making any adjustments to your course schedule.
University Advising Center in the Division of Student Success
Your academic advisors should have information available in the academic department or on the department Web site regarding their office hours and preferred methods for contacting them. It is your responsibility to seek out that information and have it available for when you need to make contact.
When Should I See an Advisor?
Quite simply, you should feel free to contact an academic advisor any time you have a question about your college experience or are experiencing a difficulty that is impeding your success in college. Then again, you do not have to simply see an advisor when you are having a problem; you can even contact your academic advisor when you want to celebrate successes no matter the size. Here are some more concrete instances in which you will want to speak with your advisor:
- For assistance in developing a 4–5 year academic plan for graduation.
Helpful Hint: Refer to Activity 2-3 in this chapter for assistance with this plan.
- Prior to the next registration period to discuss your schedule of classes for the following academic session.
Helpful Hint: Each semester, you will need to see an academic advisor to have an enrollment hold removed in order to register for classes. Beat the advising rush and schedule an appointment to meet with your advisor several weeks before your enrollment appointment specified in the Student Services Center in MyMav.
- When you are experiencing any type of difficulty (personal, academic, or social) that is impeding your ability to perform well in or attend class and need referrals to campus resources or study skills advice that may be able to help you perform better.
Helpful Hint: Dealing with issues as soon as they arise rather than waiting until it is impossible to recover will benefit you in the long run.
- When you are considering changing your major.
Helpful Hint: You may want to visit with many academic advisors on campus including your current advisor and also consider seeking advisement from a Majors Exploration advisor in the Division of Student Success.
- When you need assistance adding, dropping, or withdrawing from classes.
Helpful Hint: After Late Registration, you will be required to seek the assistance of an academic advisor to add or drop classes to complete the MyMav functions.
- Prior to the Last Drop Day during a given session if you are experiencing difficulty in a course.
Helpful Hint: It is in your best interest to check in with the faculty for your classes to determine your current grades and then talk with an advisor if you are considering dropping. Waiting until the last minute is not recommended. Professors’ and advisors’ office hours may conflict with your schedule, and it may take several days to get all of the appropriate signatures.
- Any time you have a question about a UTA policy or procedure that is discussed in the Undergraduate Catalog.
Helpful Hint: It is the responsibility of every UTA student to have read their Undergraduate Catalog and understand the policies. “Nobody told me” is not an acceptable defense if you do not follow university policy.
- If your Academic Standing at the end of a session is anything other than “Good Standing.”
Helpful Hint: “Chapter 6: Avoiding Hazards Along the Way” discusses issues related to Academic Standing at UT Arlington more in depth.
- If you want some guidance on how to apply for graduate school or discuss career options for your major.
Helpful Hint: In addition to talking with your academic advisor, you can also talk with your professors, attend workshops given by the Graduate School, and do some research in the Lockheed Martin Career Development Center.
- When you reach 60 cumulative credit hours, so you can discuss having your intended major changed to a major if you have not done so already.
Helpful Hint: UT Arlington policy requires that all students are in a major by the time they have earned 75 credit hours. Students not able to make a major decision are required to meet with an advisor in the Division of Student Success.
- Before enrolling in any courses at another institution that you intend on transferring back to UT Arlington to meet degree requirements.
Helpful Hint: While courses may transfer into UTA, they may not meet the requirements of a major degree plan.
- The long semester before you plan to graduate from UT Arlington to double-check your degree progress and find out the procedures you need to follow to apply for graduation.
- Understand and communicate personal values, abilities, and goals.
- Provide accurate and truthful information when being advised.
- Schedule and keep appointments or call ahead to reschedule if you are going to be late or need to cancel the appointment.
- Learn and understand UT Arlington policies, procedures, and requirements by reading the Undergraduate Catalog.
- Ask questions about UT Arlington policies, procedures, and requirements if you do not understand them.
- Come prepared to an advising appointment. For instance, if you are meeting with your advisor to discuss enrollment for the next term, bring your Academic Plan for Graduation and a list of courses you might consider taking.
- Be open to new possibilities that the academic advisor may suggest.
- Follow through on the plans- of-action agreed upon in the advising session.
- Understand and accept that students are ultimately responsible for their education and their own decisions. Take an active role in the advising process.
Academic Advisor Responsibilities
- Inform students of the nature of the advisor/advisee relationship and the expectations you have for your advisees.
- Develop purposeful and meaningful relationships with advisees.
- Provide and update contact information and posted office hours.
- Keep appointments or contact a student if it is necessary to change or cancel an appointment.
- Inform and refer students to campus resources and special services available to them.
- Assist students in defining and developing desired educational, career, and life plans.
- Listen and help students in developing a realistic academic plan for graduation that will help a student meet his or her goals.
- Monitor progress toward educational/career goals.
- Interpret and provide rationale for university policies, procedures, and requirements.
Why Is the Undergraduate Catalog Such an Important Document?
The policies and procedures set forth in the Undergraduate Catalog are in effect a contract or agreement with the students who enter UTA during that catalog period. If students complete the degree requirements set forth using the policies and procedures outlined from that catalog, UTA will confer a bachelor’s degree. Though policies and degree requirements may change from year to year, the policies and degree requirements set forth in the catalog that students entered under is what they have to follow.
The official Undergraduate Catalog (and the archive of previous years’ catalogs) can only be accessed online. Students can access official information about the degree plans offered by the different academic departments as well as the current course catalog that describes each of the courses more in depth and explains the prerequisites for the courses. In addition to the basic degree requirements, the Undergraduate Catalog is considered the official source of information regarding the policies and procedures that students must follow as they are taking courses to obtain their degree. It is highly recommended that students read and familiarize themselves with the policies and procedures of their entering catalog.
Components of UT Arlington Degree Plans
- Core Curriculum—State-determined courses meant to provide all undergraduates with a well-rounded education.
- Major Coursework—Courses specific to the discipline students have selected. Includes required courses, major electives, and possibly subplan specialties.
- Electives—General courses that students can take to meet the total semester credit hours required to earn the degree.
Degree requirements can be found in the Undergraduate Catalog at catalog.uta.edu.
Students should always consult undergraduate academic advisors from their major department before enrolling in classes to ensure the proper selection of courses that will meet degree plan requirements.
How to Calculate a Grade Point Average (GPA)
Students will receive information regarding their cumulative and semester GPAs at the end of each term when grades are posted in MyMav. Any courses taken at another institution are not calculated into UTA’s semester or cumulative GPAs, so do not take courses at another institution and assume that those grades will impact your UTA GPA and Academic Standing. They will not.
At times, it is helpful to be able to calculate your own GPA if:
- you want to determine what your major GPA is,
- you want to play a guessing game to determine what you might need to earn in order to change your GPA from one level to another, or
- you are interested in applying to graduate or professional school upon finishing your degree (you can calculate an overall GPA that would include those grades as the Graduate Admissions Offices would using this basic formula).
At UTA, students are graded on a 4-point scale:
Note: Grades of I, P, Q, W, or Z are not included in the calculation of a GPA.
Let’s Do Some Math…
- List the courses attempted and the grades earned.
- Multiply the grade value by the number of credit hours of that course.
|Course||Letter Grade Earned||Grade Point Allocation||Grade x Credit Hours of course||= Grade Points Earned|
|ENGL 1301||A||4.0||4.0 x 3 hrs||= 12|
|MATH 1302||D||1.0||1.0 x 3 hrs||= 3|
|UNIV 1301||B||3.0||3.0 x 3 hrs||= 9|
|BIOL 1441||C||2.0||2.0 x 4 hrs||= 8|
|13 credit hours attempted||= 32 Grade Points|
- Add the total hours attempted and the total grade points earned.
- Divide the grade points earned by the credit hours attempted >> 32 grade points ÷ 13 hours
Grade point average of these courses: 2.46
- How are the academic advisors in college different from the guidance counselors in high school?
- Overall, how do you think college will be different than high school?
Read all of the sections under “General Information” of the online Undergraduate Catalog. Also, select one department of interest to you in the “Academics” section and read about that department and the degree requirements. Look up at least one course listed in the degree requirements under the “Course Descriptions” section to see if there are any prerequisites for that course. As you are reading write down any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment with an academic advisor and ask the questions you have about the degree requirements and policies and procedures you read in the catalog.
Using the Undergraduate Catalog, investigate the following policies:
- Schedule Changes (Adds and Drops)—How many courses can an undergraduate student drop during their academic career?
- Withdrawal for Non-Payment
- 75 Hours to Undergraduate Major Policy
- Academic Probation and Dismissal Policy
- Freshman Potential for Academic Success Policy
- Grade Replacement and Grade Exclusion Policies
Write down any questions that you may have about these policies and talk about them with an academic advisor.
Using the Undergraduate Catalog, complete this worksheet to the best of your ability. Then schedule an appointment to meet with an Academic Advisor from the major department that you are interested in pursuing to discuss how realistic your plan is and adjustments that might be necessary given your life circumstances.
|❑ I confirm that my academic advisor has reviewed this page along with my academic plan.|
|Expected Semester/Year of Graduation:|
Using the example academic record below, calculate the overall GPA and major GPA assuming that the student is a Biology major.
|Courses Taken||Letter Grade Received||Grade Point Equivalency||x||Credit (Hours of Course)||=||Grade Points earned|
Total Grade Points ÷ Total UTA Hours = ______________
Biology Major GPA
BIOL Grade Points ÷ Total BIOL Hours = ______________