The Center for Academic Services has revised its curriculum policies so that all pre-major students, regardless of class year, are subject to similar registration holds and meetings with advisers. In doing this, the CAS hopes to increase the amount of support available to sophomores in order to facilitate their decision-making processes.
The policy drops the freshman and sophomore advising as individual programs and groups both years together as pre-major advising. Dean of Freshmen Marcy Kraus and Dean of Sophomores Vicki Roth will design workshops to help pre-major advisers better guide their students.
‘We were in effect dropping students prematurely when they are about to make one of their decisions what they’re going to major in,” Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Suzanne O’Brien said.
For sophomores, the policy changes mean required meetings with their pre-major advisers in both their fall and spring semesters. The extended program is designed to help students talk to their advisers about policy changes, discuss their curriculum and their plans as they finalize their majors. Previously, sophomores in the College of Arts and Sciences did not have any holds on their accounts during the spring semester. Once students have declared their major, they will meet with their departmental adviser.
Additional policy changes affect all UR undergraduate students interested in the pass/fail grading option or repeating a course.
Students were previously able to withdraw from a class up until the last day of classes. However, students must now declare the option by the semester’s 11th week, leaving two-and-a-half weeks before classes end. The S/F option used to be available only until the fourth week of classes but has been extended to the 11th week of classes.
‘In tandem with that change, which may be viewed as restrictive, [withdrawal] is one with the S/F system that is less restrictive,” O’Brien said.
The S/F option is only available for elective courses that do not count toward clusters, minors or majors. The option can be removed by petition at a later date if a student decides to have it count toward one of these areas.
Procedures surrounding the repeating of a course have also been changed so that students have to meet with an adviser and receive approval from the College before repeating the course. Both grades will now appear on the transcript with the letter ‘R,” but only the second grade will count toward the students’ GPA. Previously, the second grade completely replaced the first grade without any record on the transcript.
Any student who wants to repeat a course will need to meet with an adviser in academic support, review policy and receive approval at the time of the visit, thereby eliminating a form.
Seniors also must now fill out an ‘intent to graduate” form. This form is a degree audit that records all the courses a senior has taken. It is designed to help students commit to all major, minor and cluster requirements needed to graduate.
The program assures that students are notified earlier if there are problems so that they can be resolved by the end of their senior year. Previously, these forms were not reviewed until mid-February of the senior year, by which point it might have been too late for seniors to fix the problems.
‘We believe it adds focus to the final year and encourages students to complete their degrees in a timely fashion,” Assistant Dean of the College Nancy Speck said. ‘The Eastman School [of Music] and many other institutions have had this in place for a long time.”
The new policies represent changes for both faculty and staff. ‘It will be an ongoing evaluation,” O’Brien said. ‘Any new policy takes awhile to catch on.”
Sahay is a member of the class of 2010.