Wednesday, September 5, 2001- The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition= 5C
GUIDE TO GRADUATION
does not spell doom
How to get
out, of ere
on time and
dwith a degre
By Maria Sprow
Getting through elementary school took forever,
)eemed. Five long, grueling years of cursive hand-
ting, addition, subtraction and geography lessons
only succeeded in seven more years of long divi-
sion, equations, calculus, literature, anatomy, chem-
istry and physics. It was supposed to be all over, but
then came college, and along with it, yet another
four more years of reading, writing, afd testing.
Well, another four years for those who are lucky
enough to graduate on time. For others, it's four and
a half and possibly five -or more.
But don't sweat it.
Wssociate Director Student Academic Affairs Vir-
ginia Reese said it's not necessary for a student to
have a four-year plan during their freshman year in
"As an incoming first-year student, it's very hard
to make a mistake," Reese said. "Every course you
take is going to be useful in some way. It might help
you make up your mind at 'whether you want to
major in a particular subject, or you might acquire a
skill that is important to have. Incoming students get
obsessive about getting everything perfect. The
thing to know is that it's hard to make a bad mistake
*r first year."i
Reese said that while most first year students
come to the University with at least some idea in
mind of what they want to major in, most students
are undecided and many change their majors during
their freshman and sophomore years.
For those students who are undecided, Reese said
Academic advisors like Mercedes Barcia help many students realize their goals. Students who take advantage of
advisors find that they have plenty of experience.
it's more important to take classes that sound inter-
esting than classes which would fulfill graduation
requirements, such as Race and Ethnicity or Quali-
"I made sure to take my distribution credits fresh-
man year because I didn't know what I wanted to
major in, but I would have to do it regardless of
what my major was going to be," said RC junior
Jenna Long, a creative writing major. "I really con-
sidered doubling in drama or film, but I would
rather spend my time getting a little bit of every-
thing and that's what college is all about"
Any class that is not a part of someone's particu-
lar major counts towards distribution requirements
for graduation, so students are not wasting time by
exploring all their options early on.
On the other hand, students who wait too long to
explore and who might want to change their majors
during their junior year might be forced to spend
one or two extra years at the University, something
that Reese said was not uncommon.
"A lot of people mentally change their majors a
lot of times before they actually declare one," she
said. "Once they are here, they run into classes that
they have never run into before."
Although the majority of University students at
the University graduate within four years, many do
spend extra time taking classes, either during spring
and summer semesters or during a fifth year.
"There are students who deliberately take longer
than four years," Reese said. "Maybe they change
their mind about their major really late in their
career, and that causes them to stay longer. Or they
want to do certain things ... maybe they want to
have a year abroad and in that year abroad not have
to worry about particular classes, or maybe they
have to work so they take a lighter load so they can
properly balance those things."
Reese said students who think they want to major
in the humanities or social sciences should have a
"different four-year plan thanstudents who mighty=
want to major in the natural sciences, but that all
fields of study require that students take an average
of four classes (or 15-16 credit hours) per semester
in order to graduate on time.
Long said her four-year plan involved knowing
how many credits were needed to graduate on time
and making up for past mistakes.
"I was a little worried when I withdrew from a
class second semester of freshmen year because I
have to average 15 credits each semester because
that's 30 per year and 120 by the end," Long said.
"So I just set boundaries and if I screwed up, I just
fixed it the next time."
For students who think they are going to major in
a field in humanities or social sciences, the first year
can be used for exploration. During the second year,
students should choose with field they want to pur-
sue and should take the majority of the prerequisites
for the intended major.
Students who need help choosing a major can
look up information about the different concentra-
tions in the LSA course bulletin or on the University
website at wwwlsa.umich.edu/saa/publications/bul-
letin. The bulletin lists the concentration programs
offered by the University and explains the require-
ments for each individual program.
"You have to treat finding a concentration the way
you do a research project. Sometimes people wait
for the idea of a concentration to hit them like light-
ning, but it's a much more thoughtful approach and
the student has to be active in that," Reese said.
Natural science majors, or students who might
want to major in a field within the natural sci-
ences, have less time to explore than other stu-
dents because those fields tend to have more
prerequisites - such as Chemistry 130 and
210/211, Biology 162 and Calculus 115/116, com-
mon requirements for almost all natural science
majors - which should be completed within a
student's first two years. Natural science fields
also tend to have more credit requirements follow-
ing the prerequisites.
"They are more structured and require a bigger
base to build on. It's a little more time consuming,"
Reese said. "For someone that thinks they are going
to be majoring in the natural sciences, or wants to
hold that door open, they need to be looking at the
prerequisites from the very beginning."
Reese said the best advice she could give students
is to stick with the classes they choose to take, and
to avoid dropping classes.
"Every time you drop a course, that changes the
tirneline a little bit and makes a difference in how
many credits you still have to go to reach gradua-
tion," she said. "They should be careful about stay-
ing with their classes and keeping the commitment
to their courses."
By Samantha Ganey
Daily News Reporter
At the end of each semester, some
students return home to more than
just letter grades to show their par-
ents. They receive additional letters
unfit for the refrigerator door - let-
ters warning students they are on aca-
demic probation and at risk for
Academic probation does not affect
the majority of the student body, but
each semester, 3 percent of LSA stu-
dents and 1 percent of Business stu-
dents have semester grade point
averages below a 2.0, automatically
qualifying them for probation. Letters
from their respective colleges encour-
age students to schedule individual
advising appointments immediately.
LSA Academic Standards Board
Director Charles Judge sympathizes
with extraneous factors that can con-
tribute to students' inadequate grades.
He said some students are in the
wrong academic programs; others
work too hard. Sickness and depres-
sion also may add to a student's acad-
"It is, in fact, somewhat interesting
that the distribution of people who are
on academic probation is a little more
heavily on sophomores and juniors -
with a lot of seniors, too," Judge said.
Students who have attended the
University for at least a year have had
more time to encounter personal
issues and problems that may affect
academic performance, Judge said.
A combination of losing a friend to
suicide and letting his grades fall
caused University alum Ed Sul to slip
into academic probation the fall of his
sophomore year and suspension the
"I lost perspective and purpose. I
had to find the meaning of life all
over again," Sul said.
Judge explained that LSA students
are on probation for one semester and
if a student's semester grade point
does not rise to or above a 2.0 in the
next semester the individual is dis-
missed from the University.
The student has the right to appeal
immediately with a petition letter. An
individual conference follows the
appeal but does not guarantee re-
admittance right away.
Sul said he feels the petition is not
the most beneficial step for students
because the appeal process could take
weeks. Instead, Sul encouraged dis-
missed students to find out why they
were not allowed to return after win-
ter or summer break.
"I don't think it's a question of
intelligence at this point but. some-
thing else,' Sul' said.-"The rhore the'
individuals can't believe that they got
kicked out, the harder it is for those
individuals to deal with the issues that
got them kicked out in the first place."
Some students skip the academic
probation stage and are automatically
suspended because their semester
grade point average is below 0.6.
"Things are sufficiently out of hand"
at this point, Judge said.
Regardless of why students are sus-
pended, Judge said the appeal process
is effective for most students who
want to return to the University. Of
the 15,000 LSA undergraduate stu-
dents, 500 students are on academic
probation and 100 to 150 are actually
suspended each term.
"After appealing, most, if theywant
to, do come back," Judge said, "Some
go away and you don't necessarily
know what happens to them." ,
Business School Assistant Dean of
Admissions Jeanne Wilt emphasized
the importance of seeking an adviser
once students are put on probation.
"We want to make sure they know
they have every resource available to
them," Wilt said.
Wilt said she hopes any Business
School student on probation would
take the next term off rather than
risk suspension. With regard t' sus-
pension, Wilt said, "who's that help-
Of the 650 undergraduate Business
students, Wilt said the number who
are actually suspended is negligible.
"The objective is not to come to that
point," Wilt said. "Just talk to some-
body. Start with any staff member
you are comfortable with. It's all han-
dled as confidentially as possible."
Sul said he wishes he had sought
faculty advice before letting his grade
point average slip. "I guess if I'd
known better, I would have drboed
classes that I was doing poorly in,"he
said. "I could have talked to academic
advisers, but I saw them as authority.
I didn't know any better."
After moving out of the residence
halls, finding an apartment and trans-
ferring to Washtenaw Community
College for the winter semester of his
sophomore year, Sul returnedto the
University the next fall. He decided to
take 12-13 credit hours each term in
coriparisoh to the 16-17 credits he
took before his suspension.
Sul said he has appreciated th 6per-
spective gained in his semester 'away
from the University since graduating
"It's totally changed who I am. If I
had to do it again, I'd do it the same
way," he said.
Judge and Wilt both said they
believe all students on probation have
a chance to recover. "I'm convinced
that everyone on probation is able to
survive here," Judge said.
ALREADY ON ACADEMIC PROBATION?
WORK FOR THE DAILY.
WE'VE GOT PLENTY OF WRITERS
Students who take more than four years to earn a
degree find that they are a just as happy.
CAN YOU THINK
THAT COULD GO
IN THIS SPACE?
IF SO, COME
WORK FOR THE
THIS COULD BE
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