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1998 Advising Policy

Errors in academic planning and/or registration take on a special significance under the semester system, with its eight registration opportunities rather than the twelve available under quarters.

The 1998 plan requires adviser approval for registration and annual planning through the first two years. The proposal also urgently recommends that instructors of courses with any freshman enrolled prepare a midterm grade or other evaluation for those students doing less than C work in the course.

Official UMM Policy approved by the Campus Assembly
April 13, 1998


To: Executive Committee

From: James Olson, Chair of the Scholastic Committee

Subject: Modification of Advising System to Semester Schedule

The Proposed Modifications

The Scholastic Committee has thoroughly examined the advising process as it will function in the context of semesters. The history of our present system as outlined in key advising documents approved by the Campus Assembly in 1970 and 1980, as a well as evaluative information regarding students' and graduates' opinions of advising, have formed the basis for our deliberations. The present system is based on experience over a relatively long time.

An underlying principle since 1970 has been that students and faculty should be able to work with people with common interests and that the relationship should be interactive and developmental. To encourage this, the comprehensive advising system approved by the Assembly has these components:

  • annual planning required at the end of each first two years;
  • faculty adviser signatures on original registration forms and cancel/add forms throughout the first year;
  • placement of students with faculty advisers in the discipline of the major whenever possible;
  • ease of changing adviser;
  • and advising loads of no more than 30; unless the faculty adviser agrees to additional advisees.

Under the quarter system, students meet with their advisers six times during the first two years. Under semesters, the number of meetings will remain the same, though they will occur throughout the first and second years. The Scholastic Committee views proposed modification as a continuation of the modification process that has taken place through the years, to accommodate the advising/planning/registration process as it proceeds in the context of semesters.

Fewer Registration Opportunities
Students and advisers need to be aware that errors in academic planning and/or registration are usually more significant in the semester system, given the fact that there are a total of eight registration opportunities under semesters, whereas there are twelve such opportunities under the quarter system. It is particularly important to identify problems which students may encounter during their first semester at UMM. Assisting them, whether by simply encouraging more contact with the faculty member or making them aware of the Academic Assistance Center or any of the resources available is critical to their success. IF programmatic changes are in order, they too must be addressed as quickly as possible, since the number of registration opportunities is limited. Second year students and beyond are subject to the same issues of appropriate courses to satisfy requirements, whether the requirements are general education or relate to a major or minor.

adviser Approval through the First Two Years
The Scholastic Committee is proposing that adviser approval be required for registration and annual planning during he first two years in residence at UMM. This maintains the number of meetings currently required, though it moves one meeting to the second year. To help to protect the student as well as maintain the recent advances in the registration process, advisers must be involved in the programmatic planning advisees make throughout the undergraduate years. Requiring adviser approval through two years also addresses the problem of PSEO and transfer students who arrive with close to 45 credits technically have not been required to meet with their advisers.

A summary of the Scholastic Committee recommendation is provided on the Advising Schedule. The anticipated outcomes are consistent with current practice.

Unofficial Midterm Grades for Students Doing Less than C Work
Additionally the Scholastic Committee recommends, with some urgency, that instructors of courses containing ANY freshmen prepare a midterm grade or evaluation for those freshmen who are doing less that C work in the course. It is expected that this information, when given to the student, will initiate some degree of contact with that instructor and result in a student:

a. being warned that continued work at the level of accomplishment to date will yield a grade lower than C at the end of the semester;
b. being informed of additional assistance available such as the Academic Assistance Center , tutors, help sessions, etc.;
c. perhaps being referred to her/his adviser for additional input and assistance.

The rationale for this version of an "unofficial" midterm grade recognizes that some students have difficulty adjusting to the workloads, time lines and other expectations which occur at the college level. Since a semester is a long time (compared to quarters) and since there is only one more registration opportunity for the first year, it is important that students be aware that they are in academic difficulty as soon as possible during the first semester, and receive whatever assistance is appropriate for the situation.

* Fall, Midterm contact may occur as a result of poor performance in a course, determined by the course instructor. That instructor has the option of passing appropriate information along to the adviser as soon as possible. The adviser looks for patterns of significant problems vs. isolated difficulties, and consults with the student regarding opportunities for assistance and other available options.