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First-Year Student FAQs

Who will be my academic advisor?

  • You will have the opportunity to meet your dean, department chair, and faculty advisor at Orientation. They will assist you to understand university and academic program policies and procedures, important information related to your major or area of interest, and to register for your fall courses. You may be assigned a new advisor once the semester begins. When you declare a major, you are assigned a faculty advisor within the academic department. Until you declare a major, you are assigned a faculty advisor through the Department of Academic Engagement and Exploratory Studies. If you change majors, you will be assigned a new advisor. If you do not know who your advisor is, or if you want to change advisors, see the chair of your major academic department. If you have not declared a major, go to the the Exploratory Advising Center in Mowrey Hall.

What can I study at Ship?

  • Ship provides undergraduate studies leading to five degrees:
    • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
    • Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
    • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.)
    • Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.)
    • Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.)
  • Many of our programs are nationally accredited and recognized as premier in their fields.
  • At Ship, you will have opportunities to:
    • Explore your areas of interest
    • Acquire the knowledge and develop the skills to reach your personal, academic, and career goals and to make significant contributions to your world
    • Engage in exciting research activities with faculty
  • At Ship, learning is not confined to a classroom, lab, or library. There are many opportunities for:
    • Service learning projects
    • Internships and hands-on work experience
    • Study abroad and travel abroad programs

How many credits must I earn to graduate from Ship?

  • Regardless of your major, you must earn a minimum of 120 credits to graduate. Some majors may require more than 120 credits, and students who take developmental-level courses will complete more than 120 credits since developmental-course credits do not count toward graduation credits.
  • Each course is assigned a “credit” value that typically identifies how many hours each week the class meets. A 3-credit course meets 3 hours a week. Some courses may be 4 credits and would meet 4 hours each week. So, to graduate from SHIP, you will take around 40 courses.
  • The 120 credits will consist of:
    • General Education Courses – 48 credits
    • Major Courses – varies according to major
    • Minor or free elective courses - varies

How many courses should I take in my first semester?

  • The standard course load is 15 credits (five courses) per semester. However, it is important to remember that graduation is the goal and not a race. The key is for you to determine the best course load for you. There are no prizes for finishing early or penalties for taking longer. Reduced loads may be desirable if you participate in sports, are on academic probation, have learning difficulties, work, or have other significant responsibilities.
  • To maintain full time status, you must enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours each fall and spring semester. This is important to maintain financial aid, NCAA eligibility, and if you are on your parents’ insurance policies.
  • If you have earned developmental placement in reading, you will be limited to take 4 courses (including developmental reading) in your first semester.
  • To register for more than 5 courses in your first semester, you would need to request permission through your dean’s office. This is generally not a good idea for first year students.

What courses will I take in my first semester?

  • Your first fall schedule will consist primarily of general education courses necessary for graduation. As some majors may require specific courses in the general education categories or require courses to be taken in a certain sequence, you will be registered into courses as determined by your academic department. You may also be scheduled into required developmental-level courses or introductory courses for your major or area of interest. You will receive your first semester schedule at Orientation. An advisor from your department will review your schedule with you and answer any questions that you may have about your scheduled coursework.

How will my schedule be arranged?

  • One of the big differences between high school and college is the way classes are scheduled. Instead of spending 6 hours each day in class with back-to-back classes, in college you may only be in class 3 to 4 hours a day with your class periods spaced throughout the day. The amount of time you spend in class will be determined by the credit hours for the course and how many days a week it meets. When you look at the schedule of courses, you will note:
  • M = Monday; T = Tuesday; W = Wednesday; R = Thursday; F = Friday
    • Monday/Wednesday/Friday (MWF) classes are usually 50 minutes long with 10 minute breaks between them
    • Tuesday / Thursday classes (TR) are usually 75 minutes long with 15 minute breaks between them
    • MW classes starting at 2 pm are 75 minutes long
    • Evening classes may meet one evening a week for 2 ½ hours
  • It is generally best to balance your semester schedules with MWF and TR classes, not schedule your most difficult courses back-to-back, and not schedule more than one evening course. You should schedule your courses when you are at your mental and physical peaks. If you are not a morning person, try to avoid 8 a.m. classes when possible.

How will I schedule my first semester courses?

  • You will register for your courses at Orientation. Your department chair and academic advisor will assist you to identify appropriate courses. Then you will be assisted in a computer lab to build your schedule. You will do this online through Banner Student Self-Service. You will only have access to the course registration during Orientation.

What if I need to change my schedule of classes after Orientation?

  • After Orientation, you will not have access to the course registration system. Please contact the Registrar's Office if you have scheduling concerns or questions. Please note that your schedule is reviewed by your academic department, therefore schedules will only be adjusted for extenuating circumstances after Orientation. You will be notified via your email of scheduling adjustments due to placement testing, transfer/AP credit and course section changes. It is important that you verify your schedule prior to the final day of class to ensure you follow your most current schedule.

Why do I have to take General Education courses?

  • To graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Ship, you must earn a minimum of 120 appropriate credit hours. 48 of those credits, regardless of your major, will come from the General Education Program. If you are a new, first-semester student, your first semester schedule of courses will consist primarily of appropriate Gen Ed courses. To satisfy your Gen Ed requirements, there are a variety of courses from various disciplines. These courses are a vital part of a broad, well-rounded education. They are designed to:
    • broaden your knowledge of the world and your place within it.
    • help you develop skills essential to succeed in an increasingly diverse world—ability to think logically, read critically, write clearly, and verbalize ideas in a succinct and articulate manner.
    • provide you the opportunity to explore and discover new areas of interest.
    • assist you to select or confirm your choice of a major and potential career options.

What if I want to declare or change my major before the semester begins?

  • If you desire to change your major before Orientation, you should contact the Office of Admissions. The Office of Admissions will verify if you meet the requirements to declare the new major.
  • If you decide to change your major while attending your Orientation, you will be directed to a representative from the Office of Admissions for assistance.
  • If you decide to change your major after Orientation, contact the Office of Admissions prior to the beginning of fall classes.
  • If you desire to declare or change your major after the beginning of fall classes, contact your assigned academic advisor.

If I am an Exploratory Studies student, when will I be required to declare a major?

  • Exploratory Studies students are encouraged to declare a major as soon as they are confident of their choice. If you do not declare earlier, you must declare a major early in your third semester. It is okay to be in Exploratory Studies. Being in Exploratory Studies places you in the position to explore and investigate your areas of interest and educational and career goals. But, keep in mind that postponing the decision to declare a major may cost you additional money and delay your graduation date. So, your academic advisor will assist you to declare your major as soon as you are ready.

What are minors and do I have to declare one?

  • Shippensburg University offers approximately 30 different minors. An academic minor is a structured group of courses that can enhance your educational experience by complimenting your declared major, broadening your knowledge and skills, or allowing you to pursue study in an area of interest. A minor usually consists of 18 to 21 credits from one or more disciplines outside your declared major. Some majors may require you to declare a minor or concentration and other majors may strongly recommend that you declare a major. Even if you are not required to declare a minor, you may choose to invest “free elective” credits into a minor.

What are free electives?

  • No, free does not mean that you do not have to pay for them. Free electives are any course(s) that do not satisfy general education, major or minor requirements. Most majors allow a designated number of free elective credits for degree completion. Free electives give you the opportunities to take additional courses in your major or minor, to take courses to gain desired knowledge or skills, to explore a potential major, or to take courses just for the fun of it. It is a wise strategy to reserve most of your available free elective credits until later in your degree progress.

Do I have to take a foreign language course?

  • The best answer is—it depends. Students enrolling in Bachelor of Arts degree programs must satisfy the modern language requirement. This would include the following majors:
    • Art & Design
    • International Studies
    • Communication/Journalism
    • Interdisciplinary Arts
    • English
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Human Communication Studies
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
  • The Modern Language Requirement can be fulfilled by:
    • Completing 3 years of the same language in high school.
    • An AP score of at least 2.
    • Completion of a 103-level language course.
  • The number of foreign language courses you may need to take would be determined by the number of years you have already completed in the language. Your academic advisor will explain the placement policy for students who completed less than 3 years of the same language in high school.
  • Majors in Bachelor of Science degrees (B.S., B.S.B.A., B.S.Ed., B.S.W.) do not require a foreign language. You may elect to take a foreign language as either a General Education Category B or free elective course.
  • 1 modern language course may be used to satisfy General Education Category B requirements.
  • If you take more than 1 course, the additional hours will count as Free Electives.

What should I do if I earn placement in a developmental course?

  • If you earn placement in developmental math, reading or writing, we strongly encourage you to take the appropriate developmental course through SHIP, your local college, university, or community college this summer. The Placement Testing Office can assist you to identify appropriate courses.
  • When you take the developmental course(s) will be determined by what is most appropriate for your academic progress. You will be assisted in registering for appropriate developmental-level course at Orientation.
  • Basic Writing (ENG050) should be completed during the first semester.
  • Developmental Reading and Study Skills (RDG050) should be completed during the first semester.
  • The scheduling of a developmental math course will be determined by your choice of a major or areas of interest.
  • Please note: Credits earned in developmental courses are included in determining a student’s class standing, and the grades are computed in the student’s quality grade point average; however, these credits do not count toward the total number of credits required for graduation. Placement into developmental-level courses is determined by the university’s placement testing procedures.

What grades must I make to remain in good academic standing?

  • To remain in good academic standing, you must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 ("C"). Your quality cumulative GPA is an average of all of the course grades you earn at SHIP. If you fall below 2.0, you will be placed on academic probation. You can still schedule classes and return the next semester to give you a chance to raise your GPA. If you do not raise your GPA and remain on academic probation 2 semesters in a row, you may be academically dismissed from the university. Be aware that some majors might require a higher GPA to declare and satisfy program requirements. So, making good grades should be your number one priority from the very beginning.

What grades do I have to earn to make the dean's list?

  • A dean's list is published at the end of each semester to recognize students who earn at least a 3.5 or better semester GPA. In addition, students who consistently perform at the highest levels are given special recognition at the end of each academic year and at graduation.

How much time should I plan to study each week?

  • For an answer to that question, you should ask a successful student. Most successful students will say:
    • They study 2 hours outside of class for each hour in class. So, if you are registered for 15 credits, you may anticipate having to study around 30 hours per week.
    • There are some courses (such as Principles of Biology) for which students say they have to study 20-25 hours each week for that one course.
    • Being a successful student demands a full-time commitment.

Is class attendance mandatory?

  • You will hear various truths and myths in answer to this question, depending upon whom you ask. Some professors will require attendance and others may not. However, it is important to understand that there is no substitute for attending class. Various professors may factor class attendance in the final grade, or they may have a policy that after so many absences a student automatically fails the course. Professors will present material in class that won’t be found in textbooks, and it’s up to you to obtain that information. A high correlation exists between class attendance and academic success. Put simply, if you want to pass, go to class every period. If you must miss a class period, be sure to contact your professor. First Day Attendance Policy: There is a university policy that if a student misses the first day of class (in any semester) the professor may elect to drop the student from the course.

When should I purchase textbooks?

  • Many professors will expect you to have your textbook on the first day of class. Please keep in mind, the course schedule you create at Orientation is tentative. We recommend that you buy your books for the first day of class AND that you purchase them in the SHIP bookstore. The bookstore will ensure that you have the proper text and edition for the course. ALSO, keep the receipt and do not open any plastic wrapped books or make any markings in the books until you are sure that you need them. This will you will be able to return them to the bookstore. If you decide to purchase textbooks online, remember that it may take several days to receive the books AND there may be a risk in not being able to return an unneeded book.
  • The University Store will be open at Orientation; however, textbooks will not be available for purchase at this time. Dates for textbook availability will be posted on the University Store website.

Where can I go if I need help with coursework?

  • Your first step should be to visit your professor during his/her posted office hours.
  • Free tutoring is available through the Learning Center.
  • Many academic departments also offer free tutoring.
  • Students with documented disabilities should contact the Office of Accessibility Resources.
  • Student athletes should contact the Coordinator of Academic Support for Student Athletes.
  • ASP students should contact their ASP counselor.
  • Your academic advisor can also help you identify available resources.
  • The key is to take advantage of academic support services before you get into academic trouble rather than wait until after you have received poor grades.

Where can I go if I don’t know where else to go for assistance?

  • Your academic dean’s office is there to assist you, so if you have questions about your credits, your academic standing, or anything else related to your academic experience at Ship, don’t hesitate to ask.
  • Your academic advisor will direct you to the available resources to assist you.
  • Ask Us Anything is a central desk in the library where you can literally ask them anything.