Undergraduate student advising frequently asked questions


General Advising

Why do I need an advisor?

Advisors help students develop plans for a major, match personal strengths and interests with opportunities in the University curriculum, understand and complete requirements, avoid or overcome administrative issues, and develop a sense of purpose in their undergraduate education.

Who is and how do I meet my advisor?

Incoming freshmen starting during fall semester receive advising at ROAR (Registration, Orientation, Advising and Resources). Most freshmen are initially advised through the Student Resource Center (SRC) and move to a department academic coordinator or faculty advisor at a later date. At the time of admission, transfer students new to WSU are assigned an academic coordinator either in the SRC or in their major department. Contact the SRC at 360-546-9155 if you have questions about who your advisor will be. Each department has a specific advising protocol. Please refer to the links to advising information for each department.


Degree Requirements

How do I choose a major?

Choosing a major can be one of the most difficult decisions you will need to make during your college education. You will need to think about what is important for you in an occupation, explore the options available to you, and do a self-assessment of your values, abilities, and interests. Once you have done this, you will be in a better position to make a decision. At WSU Vancouver, we offer career counseling through Career Services. A career counselor can provide you with information and resources that can assist you in making an informed decision when choosing a major.

Why am I taking general education requirements?

General Education is intended to accommodate needs and objectives not adequately served by academic specialization. The General Education Program is the core of the undergraduate curriculum. While the greater part of students' courses of study will be devoted to their major fields, the General Education curriculum provides a degree of balance between the narrow focus of the major and the broader traditional objectives of higher education.

How do I earn a bachelor's degree?

University requirements for the baccalaureate degree have been established by the faculty as an expression of the common degree expectations for all Washington State University graduates. The faculty has established minimum standards in terms of credit hours, grade points, and distribution requirements within the General Education Program.

  • Hours and grade points: A minimum of 120 semester hours with a grade point average of 2.0 or better.
  • Upper-Division (300-400-level): A minimum of 40 semester hours.
  • The University Writing Portfolio (Mid-Career Assessment): Successful completion of the University Writing Portfolio is a requirement for graduation at WSU. Students must satisfy this requirement once they have earned 60 credit hours. To complete the Junior Writing Portfolio students must submit three papers they have written as a result of previously assigned college coursework and take a Timed Writing Exam consisting of two writing exercises. Upon completion of 60 credit hours, students are given two semesters to satisfy the Junior Writing Portfolio. The Junior Writing Portfolio must be completed before a student enrolls in an [M] course (see below). Visit the Writing Portfolio page for more information.
  • Writing in the Major [M]: Two courses identified as writing in the major [M] must be included in course work taken to meet departmental requirements. Consult the requirements in the department in which you intend to major.
  • General Education Program requirements: All students, regardless of major, must fulfill the minimum requirements of WSU's General Education Program.
  • The award of a degree is conditioned upon the student's good standing in the University and satisfaction of all University graduation requirements. "Good standing" means the student has resolved any unpaid fees or acts of academic or behavioral misconduct, and complied with all sanctions imposed as a result of the misconduct. The University shall deny the award of a degree if the student is dismissed from the University based on his or her misconduct.

The various colleges on campus may have different requirements. Please contact the specific department for more information.

How do I know what requirements I have satisfied?

Use the Degree Audit Reports System (DARS) within zzusis.

What is a degree audit?

The Degree Audit Reports System (DARS) is an automated record that shows a student's progress toward completing an undergraduate degree in a particular major. DARS is one of several tools intended to help understand what needs to be accomplished to complete a degree program. In concert with an advisor, a student can use this report to keep track of his/her progress toward attaining a degree. The report does not replace the importance of academic advising; rather it promotes a more sophisticated approach to academic and career counseling.

An automated degree audit details the progress toward degree by itemizing degree requirements and by showing the completion status of each requirement on the report. In addition to allowing the student and the advisor to see which requirements are incomplete, the report also shows which courses may be used to satisfy requirements. This helps the student choose the best courses to take in future semesters. The report also shows requirements for graduation that are not met by taking courses, such as completing the junior writing portfolio or maintaining a certain grade point average.

The degree audit report can be requested throughzzusis by clicking on "Academics" and then on "Register & Plan." There is no charge for requesting the report and it can be sent directly to the student's e-mail address.

"What If" Reports: DARS can also check to see how a student's courses would fit into other degree programs. For instance, if a student is majoring in business, he/she could explore how the coursework would fulfill the requirements for a B.A. in English simply by choosing that degree program under the "What If" button on the degree audit website.

When a student has applied for graduation, the degree audit serves as the final check for degree clearance. For further information on DARS, the student should contact his/her academic coordinator or faculty advisor.

What is the writing portfolio?

The Junior Writing Portfolio is a mid-career diagnostic to determine if students' writing abilities have advanced in ways that can handle the writing demands of upper-division courses and courses in their major.

Successful completion of the Junior Writing Portfolio during the junior year is a requirement for graduation at Washington State University. The Writing Portfolio identifies students who demonstrate a need for structured writing support with upper-division writing requirements, as well as recognizes the standard of writing expected of all WSU graduates.

Because writing skills can make the difference between success and failure in the professional world, WSU wants to prepare graduates for success.


Help With Classes

What can I do if I'm having trouble with my classes?

At WSU Vancouver, we care about your academic success. This is why we offer several resources to currently enrolled WSU Vancouver campus students: 

  • Academic Success Workshops - Free workshops are designed to help you develop and refine the skills you will need to succeed in your classes and college.
  • Tutoring Program - This program is designed to offer academic support and assistance to currently enrolled WSU Vancouver students who are in need of individual tutoring.
  • Supplemental Instruction (SI) - This program is a free academic support program. The purpose of the SI Program is to help students better understand concepts or applications of course content while improving their grades.
  • Writing Center - The Writing Center offers assistance for writing courses or assignments. The writing consultants provide a positive learning experience within a community of peers. They encourage the development of fellow writers with honest feedback throughout the writing process.
  • Quantitative Skills Center - Free drop in Math tutoring is available at the Quantitative Skills Center.

How do I get a tutor?

Request a tutor via the Student Resource Center.


Registration

When do I register for classes?

Please refer to the Registrar's web page http://studentaffairs.vancouver.wsu.edu/registrars-office for the priority registration dates for each semester. Your specific registration date and time are available through zzusis. After logging in, select “Registration Time & Holds” in the Student Links box on the right side of the screen.

I have an advising hold on my registration. What must I do to get it removed?

Please refer to the advising information by department links for the advising process.

What classes are available?

You can view the schedule of classes online. This will give you a list of all the classes that are offered during a specific semester.

If you would like to see a list of all the classes that are offered on the Vancouver campus, please refer to the General Catalog.

How do I add a class?

Students may add a class through the 5th day of the semester using zzusis if there are still seats open in the course. (NOTE: If the course is being added pass/fail, the approval of the student's faculty advisor is also required.) After the 5th day of the semester, students may add a class only with the permission of the instructor or the department designee in the case of business courses. Adding students should be done by the departments via RONet.

What if the class I need is full?

For some courses, the instructor has the ability to add students above the course limit. The department offering the course can submit an electronic request to the registrar’s office to add a student to a full class.

How do I drop a class?

A student may drop a course without record up to the end of the 30th day of the semester in which the course is offered or according to a prorated schedule for shorter academic terms (i.e., summer sessions). The course can be dropped through zzusis.

Will I be dropped from a class if I stop going?

Students who have not attended class and laboratory meetings during the first week of the semester MAY be dropped from the course by the department. Students should not assume that they have been dropped without verification from the department or Registrar's Office. If you stop attending a class, it is your responsibility to drop the class through zzusis before the drop/withdrawal deadline.

Students who believe that they have extenuating circumstances which prevent their attendance during the first week of classes should contact all their instructors and alert them to the situation. Instructors shall determine whether to accept the excuse, waive the absence, and permit make-up work.

Should circumstances arise that prevent a student from further attending a class or completing the course, it is up to the student to officially withdraw from the class. Course withdrawals can be completed using zzusis. If a student is unable to withdraw using zzusis, (e.g., past the deadline or maximum withdrawal limit has been reached) it is in the student’s best interest to contact their academic advisor for assistance and to explore the options available.

What is the difference between dropping and withdrawing from a class?

A student may drop a course without record up to the end of the 30th day of the semester in which the course is offered or according to a prorated schedule for shorter academic terms (i.e., summer sessions).

A student may, with the payment of a service fee withdraw from a course between the 5th week and the end of the 9th week with a grade of W. For undergraduates who enter WSU in fall 1998 or later, the maximum number of WSU withdrawals is 6, not counting withdrawals that result from the cancellation of enrollment. For undergraduates who enter WSU in the fall 2004 or later, the maximum number of WSU withdrawals is 4, not counting withdrawals that result from the cancellation of enrollment. If an undergraduate student uses a withdrawal during the semester and then must completely cancel enrollment for the semester, the previous withdrawal will not count toward the total of 4 or 6.

When is the last day to withdraw from a class?

Rule 68: WITHDRAWAL FROM A COURSE

What if I need to drop all my classes?

Students who wish to withdraw completely from the current semester should confer with their academic advisor to explore all options available and understand the impact of cancelling enrollment for the term. If the decision is made that cancellation of enrollment is in the best interest of the student, the process can be completed online at www.cancel.wsu.edu. Students seeking to cancel their enrollment after completing one or more courses may petition for an exception to the academic calendar deadlines in the event of extraordinary circumstances.

  • Students canceling their enrollment during the first four weeks of the semester will have their permanent records marked "withdrew (MM/DD/YYYY)." (Individual course enrollments will not be recorded.)
  • Students canceling their enrollment after the fourth week through the last day of instruction (end of the 15th week) will have their permanent records marked "withdrew (MM/DD/YYYY)," and a grade of W will be recorded for each course enrollment.

What if I become ill or have to drop a class after the deadline to drop a class?

Students may petition for exceptions to the academic calendar deadlines (e.g., withdrawal after the deadline) or petition for withdrawal from an individual course after the student has used the maximum number allowed. Petitions are considered only in the case of extraordinary circumstances such as a medical emergency and require supporting documentation.


Grades and Transcripts

What is the policy on repeating courses?

Students may ONLY repeat a course in which they have received a grade of C- or below, a withdrawal (W), or when a course may be repeated for additional credit. Students may enroll more than once in the same course in any given term (fall, spring, or summer) provided that the particular periods of enrollment do not overlap and that other conditions for allowed repeats are met.

  • Repeating courses graded C- or below. To improve the cumulative or resident grade point average, a student may only repeat courses in which a C- or below was received. When such a course is repeated, only the last grade contributes to the grade point average and total hours earned. Students may only repeat a course graded C- or below, one time at WSU during fall or spring semesters. Additional repeats are allowed from another institution or at WSU during summer terms or by special permission of the academic unit offering the course. However, the series of repeats and grades is retained on the student's academic record.
    • Only courses identified as acceptable equivalents according to the appropriate department, the Transfer Guide, or the Admissions Office are treated as repeats. If courses deemed equivalent in content differ in credit hours, the credit hours of the repeat course supersede the credit hours of the original course.
    • Once a student has graduated from WSU, repeated courses cannot change the pre-degree transcript.
  • Repeating for additional credit.
    • Some courses have been approved for repeat credit, i.e., the student may re-enroll in the course during a subsequent semester and credit may be accumulated. Such courses are designated in the WSU catalog as "May be repeated for credit" and will list the maximum credit limitation.
    • Courses which have been approved for repeat credit, such as topics, may offer multiple sections of a course during any one term. Students may enroll in more than one section of these courses in any one term provided that the specified particular topics and titles differ.

What is an incomplete?

The term is used to indicate that a grade has been deferred based on an agreement between the student and the instructor. It is for students who for reasons beyond their control are unable to complete their work on time. All outstanding incomplete work (including grades of I, X, and blank/no grade) must be completed and posted to the official transcript prior to the conferral of the undergraduate or professional degree. Undergraduate or graduate students who receive an I grade in an undergraduate course (100-499) have up to the end of the ensuing year to complete the course, unless a shorter interval is specified by the instructor. If the incomplete is not made up during the specified time or the student repeats the course, the I is changed to an F.

Which classes can I take pass/fail?

No courses designated as meeting General Education Requirements for Graduation may be taken pass/ fail by any undergraduate. No more than two courses may be taken on a pass/fail basis during any given semester.

A student may change a pass/fail enrollment to a regular letter-graded enrollment, or vice versa, during the first three weeks of classes. After the third week and through the last day of instruction in a semester (end of fifteenth week), only a pass/fail enrollment can be changed to a letter-graded enrollment.

Courses offered only as pass/fail cannot be taken for a letter grade under any circumstances.

How do I calculate my gpa?

Download the GPA Calculator (.xls file) tool to calculate your current semester, cumulative, or estimated GPA. Simply place course, credit hours and letter grade in their respective columns. The calculator will give you a semester total, with a cumulative total at the bottom of the page. Forecast grade changes by replacing current grades with anticipated grades to determine how these grades will impact your GPA.

How do I order a transcript?

Transcripts can be ordered through the WSU Vancouver Registrar's Office. The cost for each regularly processed transcript is $5.00. Emergency copies (sent within 24 hours) are $10 each. Request a transcript.

How do I apply for graduation?

Application for a bachelor's degree should be made through your major academic department near the end of the junior year. The Undergraduate Degree Office will furnish candidates with records of their grade points and the hours completed to date, and lists of major and General Education Requirements yet to be completed. The chairperson of the department is held responsible for checking all departmental requirements, including prerequisites for all courses and the courses required in other departments. A graduation fee must be paid at the time of application.

What is academic deficiency?

An undergraduate student who at the end of any one semester has failed to maintain a 2.00 semester and/or cumulative grade point average is considered academically deficient.

How do I get reinstated?

The student must complete an application and an interview through the Student Resource Center or the academic department for students certified in a major. Reinstatement will be considered based on the application and interview. A certified major who has been interviewed and reinstated may be decertified by the department.


Parents and Family

How does advising work at WSU Vancouver?

WSU Vancouver Academic Advising is committed to your student's success at WSU and beyond. While our role is chiefly that of academic advising, we seek to encourage students in all areas of University life. Moreover, we strive to be a key source of information as students consider their future careers or post-baccalaureate studies.

We are here to provide tools, advice, encouragement and direction for students. However students are ultimately responsible for creating their schedules, making decisions about coursework, deciding their academic tracks and majors, pursuing steps in career-building, and being informed of key policies and requirements at the University. Additionally, students are considered adults, in all senses, by the University and by the staff of WSU Vancouver Advising. As a result, students are afforded the privileges of privacy, and the expectation that they can operate autonomously. We are fully committed to the idea that our students are responsible young adults who, with guidance, can make sound academic decisions.

We fully understand the often difficult position parents are in when considering their student's future and their student's academic track. We encourage parents to be actively engaged in the process of decision making, research and planning. The flow of information, and any discussions concerning the specifics of a student's academics, should take place between the student and the parent. This reinforces our position that the student is capable of making informed decisions, and furthermore, is capable of articulating and communicating their reasons for their decisions.

What is FERPA?

WSU Vancouver is committed to honoring your student's right to privacy as laid out in the directives of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which transfers rights to education records to the students once they reach the age of 18 or begin their post-secondary education. To learn more about our obligations and students’ rights under FERPA, you may view the U.S. Department of Education's summary and complete text of FERPA. Because of our commitment to privacy, parents cannot communicate with us concerning the specifics of their student's academic progress or planning absent written consent, or the presence of the student. Parents can, of course, communicate with us concerning general questions surrounding policy and procedures, however we cannot reveal the specifics of a student's record or case without consent from the student.

The parent-student relationship is an important one. Even though we cannot discuss private matters with parents, we still encourage parents to be actively involved by maintaining lines of communication with their student, and providing support. Being familiar with what WSU Vancouver has available to offer students, in terms of support and services, can often be very helpful.

What kind of support is available for my student?

If you feel your student is struggling, we have various means of support at WSU Vancouver. Feel free to familiarize yourself with services at the University by exploring the University Web:

Academic Advising - academic advice, guidance and mentoring
Counseling Services - provides support and assistance to students
Student Diversity - mentorship, resources, scholarship and events
Student Resource Center - provides academic success, disability services, education abroad, placement testing, supplemental instruction, tutoring, and math lab
Career Services - career exploration and development, promotion of employment opportunities, resume services, career counseling, experiential learning

Where can I get general information?

If general, policy, account, aid or enrollment questions arise, various administrative units are available to assist:
Student Accounts - student billing and accounts
Financial Aid - financial aid, FAFSA applications, scholarships, FAQs, links
Registrar - tuition, final exam schedule, academic calendar, schedule of classes, commencement and steps to graduation, residency, Student Handbook, Catalog, transcripts

Do parents routinely receive copies of student grades?

No. Grades are available on-line through zzusis. Freshman and new transfer students also receive midterm grades.

Is class attendance mandatory?

The University does not have a policy regarding class attendance. Each instructor may set his/her own standards for attendance.

How many credits are required for graduation?

A minimum of 120 semester credits is required to graduate.

Should my student have health insurance? What is available through WSU?

Student Medical Insurance Plan.

Where can I find out about crime and safety on campus?

http://admin.vancouver.wsu.edu/public-safety/public-safety

What about parking on campus?

Parking Services information.

My insurance company needs verification that my student is enrolled in college. How do I provide this verification?

Enrollment verification for insurance companies and other purposes is available 24/7 on the Web through the National Student Clearinghouse.

How can I track my daughter's or son's progress?

We encourage parents to be supportive of students and to talk with their daughter or son about their progress at the University. We also recognize that college is an important time for students to realize their independence and a sense of personal responsibility. Due to confidentiality laws we are unable to share personal academic information with parents unless the student has given you access to their information. Although students may choose not to share all aspects of their academic life with their parents, students and parents alike often find the University experience is an exciting time for mutual growth and discovery.

How do undecided students know what classes they should take?

Many first-year students are not sure about a major. The University experience is an important time for students to explore and discover new interests, strengths, and possibilities. We have a wealth of resources available to help students determine which academic path will best serve their interests and goals.