Advice for Students

This page is designed to assist students at the university I serve.

Declaring a Biology Major

At the time you were admitted, if you indicated that you are a biology major, then you are indeed already a biology major. On the other hand, if you indicated "undeclared," or left the response blank, or indicated some other interest, then you really do need to declare your major as biology.

Declaring the biology major is easy. Simply show up at the department chairperson's office and fill out a simple form. It probably takes five minutes. You won't have to go anywhere else as the chairperson mails the form through to the advisement center and registrar and it all becomes official behind the scenes. Voila you are a biology major.

You can change your major or add a second major at any time by going to the chairperson of the new or second department and filling out the form once again. Finding Your Advisor

At the time you declare your major you will usually be assigned an advisor. If you have done this with the department chairperson, you will know who your advisor is. The chairperson will discuss possible advisors among the department faculty and attempt to match your research interests with that of your advisor.

If your advisor was assigned by the advisement center, you will not necessarily know who your advisor is. If you would like to know, you can ask at any number of administrative offices (advisement center, registrar, etc.). The department secretary in the Biology Department Office can tell you who your advisor is, as can any member of the biology faculty. I am, of course, very happy to help you with this (Science 356).

You may change your advisor at any time by filling out a simple form with the department chairperson; it is the same form used to declare a major.

Meeting with your Advisor

You can meet with your advisor at any of her/his office hours. These are posted on her/his door and the department secretary in the Biology Department Office has the hours on file. You may discuss any subject you wish with your advisor. In general our faculty are ready and willing to help you with any problems you might be experiencing.

There is one time-period when you MUST meet with your advisor:

Registration Advising

Each semester there is a one-week period for your registration advising appointment. Check out the academic calendar on-line to determine when this period occurs. Your advisor will have special office hours posted on her/his door, usually with specific times for you to sign-in.

You should visit your adivsor's door and get signed into a specific appointment. If you are not sure of what to take, you may need one appointment for discussing that and a second appointment later to do the actual registration! It is important to do this during the one week of registration advising!

Be prompt and prepared for your appointment. Unless your appointment is just for a general discussion about "where you are," you really should have a schedule worked out BEFORE the appointment. Have a list of classes selected that makes progress toward the LAC and the biology major. Be sure the sections you have selected do not have conflicts built into them or you will be disappointed with the results of registration (closed out of courses!). At the end of your appointment, you will receive a Registration Information Card from your advisor; don't lose this card! This is your responsibility so take charge of your destiny.

You will have received a letter inviting you to bring your registration information card to an in-person registration appointment with the Registrar. Or you may use the code on that card to register on-line. Again, you do not want to miss the date of this invitation! If you miss your registration date, you really go to the end of the line!

Overload Permission

Please, please, please, don't come to the department chairperson begging for permission to overload into a class. We just do not do overloads in biology. If you have taken care of your registration properly then you should not be in this bind! Of course you will never get into Anatomy or Physiology as a sophomore! We never have enough seats, so you have to wait until you are a Junior or Senior to have enough registration priority to get into popular classes such as these.

Please remember that the medical school you hope to go to wants to teach you anatomy and physiology their own way, so why take it here and now too? Broaden your horizons, keep more doors to graduate programs and employment open by not over-specializing in your undergraduate career. This is your last chance to take some really unique courses that will add new dimensions to your capabilities. Finally, I'll tell you about a good friend of mine who is now a physician. His undergraduate major was piano performance! Yup, he made it into medical school even though he did not take Anatomy OR Physiology! Think about it...who wants a doctor who cannot converse with patients or colleagues on any subject other than her/his specialty?

Withdrawing from a Course

There are some good reasons for dropping a course in the first few days of the semester. One is that the drop does not appear on your transcript. After the drop deadline has passed, then your registration goes onto your permanent transcript. To get out of the course you then have to withdraw. Withdrawal means that a grade must be assigned by the instructor; there are two possible grades: WP (withdraw passing) and WF (withdraw failing). No one can prevent you from withdrawing from a course before the withdrawal deadline. Please note, though, that I recommend against too many withdrawals. These grades appearing frequently on your transcript mark you as a quitter, or a person who does not know their own capacity, or a person likely to fail for these two reasons. Avoid these interpretations at all costs by dropping the course within the drop period.

If you must withdraw, please remember that "poor performance" is not a good reason for withdrawing. Poor performance is a good reason to try harder.

Career Advice

I strongly urge you to use the Career Planning office on campus. They can help you focus your thinking toward a career path. There are some fun on-line "tests" to help determine what your job preferences are--even if you don't have a clue.

Independent Study Etc.

There are several options for independent study. If you are currently taking BIO 120 and/or BIO 130, your independent study is BIO 180. If you are currently taking BIO 220 and/or BIO 230, your independent study is BIO 280. If you are currently taking your BIO 3** or BIO 4** courses, your first independent study is BIO 380. In a subsequent semester you may take BIO 480. To take these courses, you need to work with a faculty member to develop a project of appropriate measure for the course and number of credits you agree to elect. There is an independent study form that you need to fill out with the faculty member and bring to the department chairperson. You carry out the project and write up the results and conclusions in the form of a paper and present it to the faculty member. In the case of BIO 480 you must also present the results in seminar form on campus.

You can also be a Teaching Assistant (BIO 490, 491) in a course providing you have taken that course before and earned a B or better grade. The number of credits is equal to the number of hours of lab time you spend each week. If you were a TA in BIO 120, BIO 130, BIO 220, or BIO 230, for example, then your BIO 490 Teaching Assistantship I course would be for 3 credits.

Another option available is to do your project with an outside agency (physician, veterinarian, staff scientist, forester, etc.). The agency, a faculty member, and you come up with a project proposal and, together with the department chairperson, determine how many credits the effort is worth. Again you carry out the project and present it either in written or seminar form on campus.

This page © Ross E. Koning 1994.

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Send comments and bug reports to Ross Koning at: koningre∂gmail⋅com.