Academic Advising
Advising Advice

Scheduling Tips

Listed below are some suggestions for assisting students in monitoring their progress and helping them understand their options when creating an academic path.

1. Encourage students to take a challenging, yet balanced course load.

  • If possible, avoid combining extremely challenging courses in the same semester.
  • If possible, do not encourage too many writing intensive or distance learning courses in one semester.
  • Assist students in planning a schedule that provides for adequate study time, e.g., 10 hours per week per course.

2. Compare current course load to past performance.

  • Determine if students have performed adequately in the past with the same number of credits.
  • Determine if the course load is balanced for the individual student. (Example—Pair especially difficult courses with those that are less rigorous if possible.)
  • Look at past performance in similar subject areas to see if any of the proposed courses are in areas of know difficulty for this student.
  • Help students decide if their expectations and aspirations are reasonable relative to the proposed load.

3. Be aware of course load requirements.

  • Ask students about financial aid or other credit hour requirements.
  • Keep in mind that many younger students must have 12 credits to be carried on their parent’s health insurance.
  • Refer students to Financial Aid for course load requirements specific to their type of aid.
  • Be aware that financial aid may be available for part-time students.

4. Estimate total student load.

  • Help students devise a schedule that will balance the academic load  around work and other life commitments.
  • Suggest students use a scheduling worksheet or weekly calendar to balance work hours, course hours, and study time.

5. Keep in  mind that students are very sensitive to comments from advisors about their academic ability.

  • Encourage students to reach their potential.  Early in their college experiences, students may be looking for short cuts and the easy way; try to help them focus on their long-term goals.
  • When giving negative information, remain supportive

Other Practical Advice

  • Advise students to take writing and reading review before math. Studies indicate that success is higher if students needing math remediation wait until their second semester to take math review.
  • Advise students to take required math courses consecutively.  Students should enroll in their required math courses in consecutive semesters.  The old saying, “Use it or lose it” applies very strongly to math instruction.
  • Whenever possible, enroll students in the least rigorous program-level courses along with ASA courses to get students involved in their field.  This gets students involved in their major field of interest and promotes motivation and retention
  • Ask students about commitments other than school or other special considerations that might affect their performance in the upcoming semester. Students who work full time probably are not prepared to take a load of 12-15 hours. Students who work until 2:00 a.m. probably will not perform well in an 8:00 a.m. course.
  • Refer special-needs students to Disability Services to request accommodations. Documentation of disability is required.  Students who have a learning disability that affects reading should not be advised to take four courses that require lots of reading in the same semester. Special-needs students who have extended time for tests and quizzes as an accommodation should not be registered in three back-to-back courses if they need additional time for testing.
  • Advise students who were unsuccessful in their first semester that IVYT 070 or a similar course might be helpful, particularly for those who need remediation. Formal research studies in Region 03 show that at-risk students who take IVYT 070 perform significantly better with respect to GPA, retention, and graduation rates than students who do not take the course.  End-of-semester comments from students indicate that they found the course extremely valuable.
  • If students seem undecided about a course of study, try to help them find a direction. Research shows that undecided students are among the highest at-risk populations in colleges.  Students can be referred to Career Services for career advising and to take interest inventories to help them make decisions.  Students receiving financial aid must declare a major when they complete 28 credits of program-level courses.
  • Be ready to explain general education requirements. Sometimes students are surprised to learn that general education courses are required for every technical certificate and associate degree.  Often they do not understand the difference between the Certificate, the  Technical Certificate (TC), Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Associate of Fine Arts, (AFA, Associate of Science (AS), and Associate of Arts (AA) degrees. It is a good idea to discuss with students the respective merits of pursuing various options within their chosen program.
    • A Certificate is a grouping of courses which usually has no general education courses included, designed to prepare a student to successful complete an industry certification.
    • A TC includes at least two general education courses (6 credits) and about 10 technical courses.  A TC is designed to get a student trained and into the workforce fairly rapidly.
    • An AAS degree includes at least six general education courses (18 credits) and about 20 technical courses.  This is considered a terminal degree to prepare a student for the technical workplace.
    • An AFA has 28 credits of general studies and 33 credits in a fine arts concentration.
    • An AS degree has general education requirements that range from 8 to 12 courses (24 to 36 credits) and is designed with the option to transfer to a specific four-year college.
    • An AA degree is completely composed of general education/liberal arts courses and is designed for transfer to four-year colleges to complete a bachelors in a liberal studies area.              
  • If students are interested in pursuing a Bachelor Degree, the AS is often the most appropriate choice and is usually specific to a particular 4-year school and  (articulated) degree program.
  • Use a scheduling grid to help students plan their schedule and study time. Filling out a scheduling grid can help students plan their schedule, visualize the amount of time that is required to travel, attend classes, study, and review.  It can be used to help students decide whether to enroll full-time or part-time.  They can share it with their families to help gain family cooperation when they need to study.
  • When referring students to College resources, try to get them to the right place the first time.