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Frequently Asked Questions from Exploratory Students

  • How many courses do students take in the first year?
    • Most first year students take five courses (15 credits) each semester of the first year. There are times, however, when a student may be encouraged to take four courses (12 credits). Reduced loads may be desirable for students who participate in one or more sports, students on academic probation, students who has learning difficulties, or students who work. Students can schedule a maximum of 18 credits without incurring additional fees.

  • How are students scheduled for their classes?
    • The Registrar schedules all first-year students for their first semester’s classes. For the most part, students take general education courses necessary for graduation. For undeclared students, we work cooperatively with the Registrar and utilize student responses to our undeclared survey to build a schedule that reflects the student's interest area. After the first semester, students may schedule their own classes over the campus intranet after they have consulted with their academic advisors.

  • What happens if a student carries only three courses (9 credits)?
    • A student who carries less than 12 credits is a part-time student. This part-time status could reduce the student’s financial aid package because financial aid awards are based on an “assumed” full-time enrollment—12 or more credits. In addition, a student must pass 24 credits from one September to the next, attaining a grade point average of no less than 1.7 for freshmen and a 2.0 for sophomores and upperclassmen. The NCAA also follows these guidelines.

  • What happens if a student becomes ill and cannot complete the semester’s coursework?
    • Students may request a medical withdrawal from the university with a “W” grade in the coursework, or, they may request an “I” grade (incomplete grades). This request is made through the dean’s office and is possible if: 1) the student was enrolled in the university for the majority of the semester; and 2) the documentation of the medical condition warrants a medical withdrawal.

  • Is class attendance mandatory?
    • It depends. Students must understand the attendance policy of each of their instructors, every semester. Some professors don’t take attendance and others deduct points for missed classes. Professors will often present material in class that won’t be found in textbooks, and it’s up to the student to obtain that information. A high correlation exists between class attendance and academic success.

  • What if a student is late for class?
    • Sometimes circumstances will prevent a student from attending class on time. But being habitually late to class is both rude and inconsiderate. In addition, some professors deduct points for lateness. Good students come to class on time and well prepared.

  • What grade point average will place a student on academic probation?
    • To remain in good academic standing, a student must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 (“C”).

  • Can students take courses at another university to improve their grade point average?
    • No. Only credits, not grades, will be accepted from other institutions. Also, only courses in which a “C” grade or higher was earned will transfer. Approval for transfer credit should be obtained from the academic dean’s office prior to enrolling for the course.

  • If a student gets a “D” or an “F” grade in a course at Shippensburg University, can he/she repeat it at another university?
    • "D" and “F” grades earned at Shippensburg University must be repeated at Shippensburg.

  • Should students always repeat courses when they have earned “D” or “F” grades?
    • Not always. It depends on the student’s major. However, we strongly recommend that students who want to improve their grade point average should repeat the course as soon as possible. Shippensburg University’s policy allows a student to repeat (and replace) three “D” or F” grades with a higher grade; however, after this option is used three times, any subsequent repeats will include both grades in the grade point average. Before repeating a course, discuss this with your advisor.

  • Do students receive any recognition for outstanding academic performance?
    • Yes. A dean’s list is published at the end of each semester to recognize students who earn at least a 3.5 or better. In addition, students who consistently perform at the highest levels are given special recognition at the end of each academic year.

  • How much time should a student devote to study?
    • It is important for freshmen to learn early in their collegiate career that efficient time budgeting requires painstaking systematic planning. The resulting time schedule must be both realistic and practical; that is, it must be sufficiently flexible to handle changing requirements and be adequately balanced between academic work and recreation. Studies have shown that college students who are taking five (5) courses should study at least 30 hours a week outside of the classroom in order to be academically successful. In essence, they should consider college a like a 9-5 job.

  • How can students obtain academic advice?
    • Every student is assigned to an academic advisor either by the department of the student’s major or, if the student hasn't chosen a major, by the Office for Exploratory Studies. Students who do not know who their assigned advisor is should contact the appropriate department or the Office for Exploratory Studies at (717) 477-1395. Advisor information is also posted on the students SIS (Student Information System) record.

  • When are exploratory students required to declare a major?
    • Exploratory students must declare a major early in the third semester of their collegiate career. This will allow students to schedule courses in their majors for the second semester of their sophomore year.

  • What steps must a student follow to declare a major?
    • Declaring a major is a simple process; the student must follow these steps:

      1. To declare a major, a student must be in good academic standing. In most cases, students need the minimum cumulative GPA of at least a 2.0.

      2. Students should talk with their advisors about their plans.

      3. Students should check the transfer requirements for the new major in the Guidebook for Advising Undergraduate Students. If the selected major is among the list of majors with special requirements(biology and its related concentrations, social work, criminal justice, psychology, communication/journalism, exercise science, and elementary education), students must apply to the department within the first three weeks of each semester. These majors have higher GPA standards, several departments conduct pre-screenings, and they may also require the student to complete certain courses before being considered and accepted as a major.

        Although majors with special requirements only accept students within the first three weeks of every semester, eligible students may declare other majors any time during the semester (except during scheduling).

      4. If students meet the major requirements, they should file the proper paperwork for a declaration of study.

      5. Students must obtain the signatures of the department chairperson and the new college dean.

      6. Once signatures have been obtained, students should return the form to the dean’s office.

  • What are minors?
    • An academic minor is a structured group of courses that can enhance the educational experience. It usually consists of 18 to 21 credits from one or more disciplines outside the student’s major. It is possible to have more than one minor but only six credits from one minor may count toward the fulfillment of another. Shippensburg University offers approximately 30 different minors. Students should consult the catalog for details and consult with their advisors about declaring a minor.

  • Who is eligible for the Pass/Fail option?
    • Students who have completed thirty (30) or more credit hours with a minimum overall grade point average of 2.5 may schedule one course (three or four credits) outside of the major or minor field of study under the pass/fail option. To apply for this option, an original copy of the student’s class schedule must be presented to the Registrar’s Office within the first two weeks of the semester.

  • Do all students have to take a foreign language?
    • No. Only students who expect to graduate with a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) degree must complete three credits of a foreign language at the intermediate level. B.S. (Bachelor of Science), B.S.B.A (Bachelor of Science in Business Administration), B.S.Ed. (Bachelor of Science in Education), and B.S.W. (Bachelor of Social Work), students are not required to take a foreign language.

      Students who have completed three years of a single language in high school have satisfied the language requirement.

  • What should students do if they earn a developmental score on the placement test(s)?
    • In general, students should remediate a developmental testing score as soon as possible, preferably during the summer before they arrive at Shippensburg. However, other options are available.

      Students will be scheduled for Introduction to Academic Writing (ENG113) during their first year if they earn a developmental score on the English placement test.

      Students will be scheduled for Developmental Reading and Study Skills (RDG050) during their first year if they earn a developmental scored on the reading placement test.

      Students who score at the developmental level in math can choose from a number of different options including taking basic math courses at Shippensburg (during academic year) or elsewhere (during the summer), or tutoring at home in the summer and then retesting.

      It is particularly important, if possible, to remediate any developmental score before arriving at Shippensburg.

      Call the Testing Center at (717) 477-1395 if you have any questions.

Contact the Department of Academic Engagement & Exploratory Studies (AEES)

Mowrey Hall, 2nd floor 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg, PA 17257 Phone: 717-477-1395