Lois Logic – Website is up and running — Other Questions

I’ve made the leap.  My website (Lois Logic) is up and running.   Here’s the link: http://www.loisfrederick.writingonlineatcsu.net

I’ve also linked to it through the blogroll, toward the bottom right of this particular blog.

I know that making decisions about higher education, what is right for the student, how to pay for it all, etc. can be very daunting.  However, it is a choice that will change your life forever, in a positive way, if you really want it to.  I’ve said this every week, so far, with this blog but I can’t say it enough.  The student MUST ask questions, and do as much research as possible to ensure that they are doing the right thing for themselves.  Life is a new learning experience every day, and higher education is almost a requirement in the 21st century.

I wish each and everyone of you the best as you make your way through life, and as always, if you have questions for me regarding the undergraduate process within higher education, please feel free to contact me via this blog and I’ll do my best to assist you.



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Filed under Accreditation of the Institution, Paying for College, Transfer Credits - Getting courses accepted at another institution

If I (the student) want to appeal a graduation requirement, who do I need to work with? What does that process look like for me?

Yep, the caveat – again, if this is an option and what the student will need to do, will depend on the institution that is being attended.  In the case of this particular set of requirements, I would start with the Registrars’ Office…or simply search your institution’s website.  In my opinion, this is the set of requirements that will need the most support/documentation for possibly having the appeal granted.  Where I’ve usually seen this set of requirements challenged is when a student has either taken a course at a previous institution and transferred it in, or when a student believes he/she has been mis-advised by his/her counselor at the current institution.

In the case of the transferred course, my institution will want to see a syllabus from the previous institution from the time frame in which the course was taken.  We would also ask that the student provide a good argumentative essay to support why they believe the transfer course should be considered for the particular category in question.

In the case of “advisor error” we ask that the student have the advisor submit a memo taking responsibility for telling the student to take a specific course, in order to fulfill a specific requirement.  Just as a caution, I’ve seen this particular defense blow up for some students because the advisor actually told the student to take the course that was listed in the acceptable courses for a particular category, and the student chose not to listen to the advisor.

When students are trying to get a graduation appeal approved many of them ask us, “what do you think the possibilities are for having this appeal approved?”  I always tell them it is a 50/50 chance.  It always depends on how well they document the situation, how much support they have from their major department, and how well their argument for the change is written.

Short and sweet to describe, a little more difficult in execution for the student.  However, it is well worth it in the end for those who are able to have their appeal granted.  Again, it comes down to…I’d rather have you ask the question, and maybe be told it isn’t possible; than to never have asked the question, and wondering if it would have worked for you.

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Filed under Graduation Requirements, Transfer Credits - Getting courses accepted at another institution, Uncategorized

If I (the student) want to have transfer courses re-evaluated, who do I need to work with? What are my options?

As I continue to say, just to remind everyone, this particular question will be answered differently depending on the institution where the student is currently attending, and how that institution works with courses that have been transferred in for academic purposes at the undergraduate level.  The answer to this question may also be different depending on what the student wants and/or needs as the final outcome to that possible re-evaluation of previous course work.  For instance, at least in the case of the institution where I work, there are about three different options:

1.  Is the student hoping that the course will be transferred as a direct equivalent to a course at the current institution?

2.  Is the student simply wanting the course to transfer as elective credit that might be able to fulfill a departmental requirement.  Could a course that has been deemed “elective credit” be substituted for a required course within the student’s program of study?  Even if the transfer course isn’t an exact match for the required course?  For instance, maybe the required course is Statistics for Psychology, but the Psychology Department is willing to accept a Business Statistics course in place of the Statistics for Psychology.

3.  Is the student hoping that the course transferred in from the previous institution will fulfill a general education requirement, but the course in transfer isn’t a direct match for any of the courses that are required in the general education area?

All three of these questions result in the student needing to do three different things at my current institution.  In the case of #1, the student would need to speak to the appropriate department that teaches the course in order to have it reviewed for possible direct equivalency.  In #2, the student would just need to work his major department to see if they would be willing to substitute the Business Statistics course for the Statistics of Psychology course.  In the third case, the student would need to complete the paperwork for core substitution consideration.

Admittedly this process can be a little cumbersome at times, but if the student is working closely with the departments who make these decisions the re-evaluation process can be pretty simple.  I’ve usually seen these types of questions most quickly answered in one of two places; either the student’s major department can get them pointed in the right direction, or the Registrars’ Office is usually able to ensure the student is working through all of the appropriate business practices and policies to ensure the completion of the task at hand.

Bottom line in all of this is asking the questions, and being willing to do the leg work involved sooner rather than later in the transfer process.

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Filed under Transfer Credits - Getting courses accepted at another institution, Uncategorized

What do I (the student) Need to do if I want to change majors at my current institution?

I know those of you who are following my blog are probably really tired of hearing this, but I’ve got to remind any new readers…Again, another policy that will vary depending on the institution involved.   Usually the “change of major process” is pretty straight forward.   You will need to figure out if this process has become electronic at your institution, and if it has there is probably a secure web portal that you will need to visit to get the process started.  If your institution is still using a paper form, you will need to find out where you can get the paperwork.  Once you have the paperwork or have found the electronic form, it is usually it is just a matter of getting the proper signatures from the new/receiving department.  However, there are some departments and majors which have limited enrollment or are considered to be controlled majors.  If this is the case, you will probably need to find out what is required for entrance into the controlled major and/or program of study. 

Just a side note, this is one place where I have seen quite a few students trying to “buck the system”…by this I mean the student wants to take a few courses in Sociology (for example) so she will complete the major change form and be accepted into the new major.  Once she has signed up for the Sociology classes that were closed to all students, other than Sociology majors, she might elect to change her major back to the original intent.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, this truly depends on how diligent the departments are with regard to their majors and if they need or want to be selective about the students who are enrolling in their courses.    I’ve also seen students who didn’t qualify for a controlled major to try and use this method to be added to Business, for example.  Again, another item where the College or Major Department has complete control of who they allow into their curriculum.

After my supervisor returned from a recent conference she was telling me about one institution who has found a great way to improve their retention rates by allowing students who may not meet a control major’s requirements to conditionally change majors.  What they have designed in their system (and I’m sure it is much more complex than how I’m going to explain it) is a conditional major change where the student signs up with the new department and takes a few very specific courses within that curriculum for the next year.  If the student does well in those courses, then he is given the direct major change into the new department at the end of the second term.  Kind of a slick idea, for those students who really want to try something new but aren’t given the opportunity to try a controlled major to see if they can really meet the requirements.


Filed under Graduation Requirements

If I want to transfer from one institution to another, what do I (the student) need to do?

Again, another policy that will vary depending on the institutions involved.  Some institutions won’t allow credit to transfer from another institution, no matter what.  Some institutions will allow students to transfer courses from other institutions that are similarly accredited.  If transferring credit from one institution to another is an option at the institution that you plan to go to next, the initial evaluation will mostly like come from one of two offices; either the Admissions Office or the Registrar’s Office.  No matter which office it comes from the evaluation process usually has at least two phases.  This initial phase which will vary in turnaround time based on quite a few things; the institution, who is involved in the initial evaluation, if there are any state regulations indicating a time frame for completion, and the complexity and level of review that is completed at this first stop.  For instance, within the state of Colorado, every public institution of higher education is mandated to have the initial evaluation completed within 30 days of receiving all of the transcripts and/or an admissions decision, whichever is later (all of the transcripts from the prior institutions are usually needed to make the admissions decision).

The initial evaluation may also vary in what I will call “completeness” based on the authority that the initial reviewing office has in the process.  Some initial reviews will be very vague (only give an amount of credit earned in transfer, and/or may only show course work as elective credit, are a couple of the normal examples).  On the other hand, many initial evaluations will be quite complete because the academic departments trust the initial reviewer with some guidelines for completion.  Therefore, the way I see it, the evaluation process is not complete until the student has worked through all of the courses s/he believes should transfer as direct equivalents from one institution to the next.  Now, of course, I’m going to add a caveat:  No two institutions are exactly alike, therefore it won’t be possible to have every course taken at “Institution #1” transfer as a direct equivalent to a course at “Institution #2”.

One of the biggest areas where I see the assignment of elective credits is when the courses are “studio based” (think, beginning guitar, intermediate jazz dance, advanced painting).  This is mainly because the specific departments at the new institution want to make sure the student has the foundation skills in guitar, jazz dance and painting (to use my examples) before the new institution will allow the student to move forward in the curriculum.  Usually the student has the right to petition these courses for re-evaluation and, in the cases that I’ve mentioned here, will probably need to provide a portfolio for review (in the case of painting), or take part in an audition (in the cases of guitar and jazz dance).

The other large area of elective credit assignment comes in Math and what I call the “hard sciences” (Chemistry, Physics, Biology).  The reasons for this elective credit assignment are due to a couple of things.  The person doing the initial evaluation is usually working with a three or four sentence course description and trying to compare that to another course description that is probably just as short.  It is really difficult to tell what a student has actually studied for 14 to 16 weeks from three sentences of description.  In these cases, usually a course syllabus will shed a lot of light on the information that was taught in the course from the sending institution.  Again, another thing to find out when you are transferring…what will the receiving department need to review in order to award the best equivalents possible for you.

Another area where there probably isn’t much direct equivalency assigned is in upper division course work.  Again, this is for a whole host of reasons:

1.  The prerequisites might be different at the first institution.

2.  The teaching department at the new institution wants to review all of the upper division direct equivalents before they are assigned to courses in transfer.

3.  Course descriptions are too short, and they don’t give the detail necessary to warrant direct equivalency.

This is just a small list of what those of us in the business call “if this, then that” scenarios, and as I’m mentioned before in other posts EVERY situation is different.  If you are a Colorado State University undergraduate student who has transfer evaluations questions, please feel free to leave me your questions in a blog reply (or email me at Lois.Frederick@colostate.edu), and I’ll do my best to get back to you with answers.  Those of you at other institutions that have transfer evaluation questions I want to encourage you to find the right person to talk to, and work with them until you feel your voice/situation have been heard and understood.  If you aren’t sure who that is at your institution, contact me as well, and hopefully I can get you a good contact at your school.  BEST OF LUCK TO YOU!!

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Filed under Transfer Credits - Getting courses accepted at another institution

Is it possible to repeat a course at my (the student) home institution? What does that require? Do all courses still calculate into my GPA?

Here’s a question that comes up from time to time for students who have received an unacceptable grade in a course (or courses) necessary to complete degree requirements.  This is another case where every institution is different, so you’ll just have to ask the questions.  If I were you I would start with the policy and procedures sections(s) of your institution’s general catalog.  This will, at a minimum, let you know if repeat/delete, or grade forgiveness (it comes under many different working titles) is an option at that particular institution.  Once you’ve found the policy, I would recommend contacting the Registrars’ Office, as they are usually the keepers of academic policies and procedures, and will be the most helpful when it comes to filling out any forms that might be required; deadlines (per semester) for when the paperwork/on-line form may need to be submitted, who to submit it to, etc.

If you are a lifelong learner, and have stopped out of school for a few terms, but now want to return to a specific institution and use their repeat/delete (grade forgiveness) policy I want to give you a heads up about it.  Many institutions of higher education have only developed this policy within the last 10 years or so.  If that is the case at your institution, and you’ve got course work that you would like to have considered under the repeat/delete policy I want to make sure you ask about the policy as it relates to course work taken prior to the policy being established.  Are you able to use the repeat/delete policy for a course that you took the first time in 1999, when the policy wasn’t actually in affect until Fall 2000?

Another word of caution.  Many institutions limit the number of credits and/or classes that can be “forgiven” when using this policy.  If the policy is available to you, PLEASE be sure to select your repeat/delete (grade forgiveness) courses carefully.  For example, you might decide to use a 4.0 credits of the 10.0 available to you under this policy to repeat/delete a Calculus course simply because you “blew off” the homework for the course (you understand the content, and could probably take it at a community college and transfer it to your 4-year school); however, you find that Organic Chemistry is really a subject where you could use to repeat the material.  In other words, if your credits and/or course counts are limited, be selective about how you make use of them.

Again, this is another one of those items where you need to make sure you are aware of all of the documents needed and required deadlines.  It will only make your experience better in the long run.

Just as a teaser for those who follow this blog…

Transfer Credit will be the topic of my post for next week…STAY TUNED!!!!


Filed under Graduation Requirements

How does a Study Abroad experience fit into my undergraduate experience?

As with any decision relating to completing a degree, the answer to this question will be different for every student.  However, I think there many things that come in to play.  I’ll list a few here, but please remember this is only some of the basics as every institution is different when it comes to the policies and procedures regarding the possibility of a Study Abroad experience.  The list below is in no real order of importance, but I simply want you to consider these as you research the possibility(ies) of studying in another country:

1.  Study Abroad is possible in any major, as long as you are willing to make the effort to make it work.  Just like anything else in life that is worth pursuing, right?

2. The Study Abroad experience and academics is a great resume builder for anyone.  It says a couple of things about the student without having to look too far:

a.  The student wanted to step outside of their comfort zone.

b.  The person who goes abroad is an independent thinker, and will do well to make decisions as needed in life.

3.  As with everything else about academia, the first major question is how would I be able to afford this experience?  My answer, how would you pay for any “once in a lifetime experience”.  You’d find a way if you wanted it, right?  Again, here is another place to research the possibility of scholarships, etc.  If there is “free money” to help you, take advantage of it.  Your only regret will be that you had the opportunity but didn’t take it.  Most Study Abroad Offices worth their weight will find a way to help, if it is at all possible.  You’ve simply got to ask the questions.

4.  How does the Study Abroad semester/term/summer session fit into the completion of my degree requirements?  Will this Study Abroad experience extend my undergraduate education?  If it does, is it worth it in the long run?

5.  If there is a Study Abroad option at your home institution there is most likely the ability to transfer credits back to the institution or have the courses recorded on your home institution transcript as academic credit earned through your home institution.  Again, this will depend on your home institution’s policies and procedures; you’ll simply need to ask the question(s).

6.  But I don’t know where I want to go?  This is where the Study Abroad Office is really going to help you sort through all of the choices.  There are many Study Abroad Programs that have discovered the best way for students to relate to all of the possibilities available to them is to have an “outbound” student (that would be you, looking to go on a Study Abroad Program) work with other students who have recently returned from a Study Abroad term.  Peer advisors are simply amazing, and you will probably find that many of your questions/concerns/fears/unknowns will be VERY similar to those who have gone before you.  Here are a few of the questions they will ask you:

a.  A foreign language is NOT usually necessary, but if you speak Spanish do you want to look at programs in a Spanish speaking country?

b.  Do you want the courses to help you to fulfill major/departmental requirements?

c.  Are you simply looking for the courses to count toward your electives?  Do you have some elective room in your Program of Study?

d.  Are you looking for a big city/urban experience?  Or a rural, more out of the way destination?

e.  and the list goes on, and on, and on.

7.  Well, I’m an Engineering or Science major and I’m just not sure the courses I would be able to take would be useful to me within my degree program once I return from the Study Abroad term.

a.  You might feel this way, but again, if you really want it and want to make it work it will happen.  A little bit of “leg work” upfront, will have a HUGE payoff in the return.  Remember what I said about that once in a life time experience?

b.  Here is another place to make sure you ask questions…there is usually a program that can be found for any situation.

In case you missed my point:  Please, at a minimum, do a little bit of research about the possibilities of a Study Abroad program.  Don’t miss your potential “once in a life time experience” simply because you didn’t think it could work.  You won’t know until you ask…weigh the pros and cons, I think you will be incredibly surprised at the results…in a positive way!!!


Filed under Study Abroad - is it right for you?, Uncategorized