Student resources: academic advising

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A person wearing a backpack walks across the street toward a university on a bright but slightly cloudy day.
The sun is shining, the tank is clean, but there’s four years (at least) until you’ll be getting out of here. 200degrees via Pixabay, manipulated by lee lim

Whether you’re a first-year or quite far along, staying up-to-date with program requirements is wise 

The University of Regina once again gears up to welcome a new wave of students, each with unique aspirations and academic goals. Pause for a moment and ask yourself: just how prepared are you for this new academic year?  

Are first-year students even aware of the different resources available to them? Do current students leverage these resources well enough to equip themselves for the upcoming higher-level courses? Most importantly, are students truly making the most of what is at their disposal? If you’re thinking “Maybe not…” then press on, for this article is poised to steer you through the various on-campus resources aimed to set you up for success. 

For the eager faces stepping onto campus this fall semester, it’s likely that you have already selected your degree path. But what’s next? One crucial step that many students miss out on is reaching out to your academic advisor and embarking on early registration for classes.  

In the words of Lindsay Eastman, a highly experienced academic advisor at the University of Regina’s Hill School of Business who has worked with the faculty for over 20 years, “Early registration provides students with the opportunity to meet and engage with a faculty advisor early on after admission. I find it provides valuable information at an early stage after being admitted which encourages student engagement, curiosity, the best possible class schedule available (as classes fill up quickly as the spring and summer progresses), and a sense of what to expect in their first year which all work to dispel some of the anxiety that a first-year student may be feeling.”  

As noted, registering early on – even months before the semester starts – greatly impacts student engagement and preparedness. It is more than just securing classes before they fill up, it is a bridge to creating valuable connections with one’s faculty advisor and a shield against first-year jitters. Eastman continues: “For existing students, early registration is even more important to ensure they are getting the required courses they need for their majors, and discussing any upcoming program plans or opportunities that require advance planning and organization.” 

Moreover, there are various opportunities that the UofR provides to help students prepare for their studies prior to starting even their first semester. As Eastman highlights, these opportunities encompass programs tailored to specific needs of students such as the High School Accelerated program which caters to students in grades 11 and 12, allowing them to earn university credit while still in high school.  

Additionally, the UR Course Registration Days, in collaboration with Enrolment Services, the Student Success Centre, and participating faculties offer newly admitted students essential introductions to university support services, expectations, and success strategies. The Summer Bridge program is designed for students accepted in the fall semester who wish to gain a head start through an introductory university course. It facilitates the completion of ENGL (English) 100 – Critical Reading and Writing I, and includes skill-building workshops addressing challenges commonly faced by first-year students. 

When considering the registration process, it is equally vital to be mindful of the registration time ticket which outlines the specific times students can start enrolling in their classes. Adding or dropping classes after certain deadlines can result in non-refundable fees or a notation like “NP” (Not Passed) appearing on one’s transcript. For this semester, the end of the grade of “W” drop date is November 15, while the end of the 100 per cent refund on tuition period if a class is dropped is September 13. 

Such information is easily accessible on the official website of the UofR, and can be accessed by searching things like “uregina student registrar resources” online. As Eastman says, “I would advise students to research their program requirements as soon as they have been admitted and revisit the requirements every semester.” She adds that “students can search all program requirements in the University of Regina Academic Calendar or on UR Self-Service using the ‘Academic Advising and Program Planning – Advisor’ (Degree Audit) tool available.”  

Degree Audit is an unofficial yet effective tool that enables students to explore the requirements of various degrees, diplomas, and certificates offered by the university. Amongst its features, it showcases how past, current, and planned courses align with selected programs. It even includes a GPA calculator function to estimate averages. Using such a comprehensive approach with one’s faculty advisor can serve as a basis for wisely registering for introductory courses and ensuring that students meet prerequisites for their higher-level degree courses.  

At the same time, it facilitates selecting electives that can contribute to receiving a concurrent program alongside one’s major such as receiving a certificate alongside a four-year bachelor’s degree – all while adhering to one’s set target degree timeline. This shows the crux of the matter: academic advising empowers students to make well-informed decisions about their education which, unfortunately, many domestic and international students often admit to not fully utilizing, leading to last-minute panic and rushed decisions.  

Eastman testifies: “As an advisor who has worked with the faculty for over 20 years, I am seeing an increasing trend of not prioritizing registration or planning in advance. As a result, students are likely to not secure an appointment as immediately as they wish, and perhaps not securing the courses they need [or] desire because they are already full.” The urgency of advanced planning is echoed: “We care about our students and their academic success deeply, but unfortunately if a student doesn’t book to see us well in advance of their registration time ticket, they could have to wait several days for an appointment, […] as our services are in very high demand.”  

To streamline students’ academic journeys, Eastman highlights the value of making use of available resources. “Students can often quickly find the information they need by simply searching the website or the Undergraduate Academic Calendar or Course Catalog to determine information about various inquiries they may have, i.e. Co-op Education information, program requirements, important dates, prerequisites, contact information, online transfers, scholarships… A lot of student email inquiries could very efficiently be answered through a quick search of the website.”  

She further says: “I feel bad when they have had to wait a few days for a response when they could have easily just searched the website on their own. I try to encourage independence as much as possible, because general information like that can be so easily attained.” 

When asked about which academic approaches have been shown to make the most impact on students’ success in their academic journey, Eastman noted: “I would say that organization and advance planning are key to making their programs a smooth and successful journey. Academic success entails that students are present, prepared, organized, put in the adequate time required into reviewing notes, studying, completing assignments, and planning accordingly.”  

To conclude, university is not just about attending lectures, but it’s also about harnessing resources that the university has to offer and, when in doubt, reaching out! It’s not enough for resources to just exist; they are of course most useful when they are actively used. 

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