Common questions for first-year students
HOW DO I FIND OUT WHO MY ACADEMIC ADVISOR AND FACULTY ADVISOR ARE?
Academic Advisors are assigned alphabetically by last name. Visit the advising page to learn which Advisor you are assigned to. Faculty advisors are assigned by your major.
HOW DO I DECLARE OR CHANGE MY MAJOR?
Make an appointment with your academic advisor to fill out a change of major form and to re-evaluate your course record. Please note that some programs require an application and acceptance process and have specific GPA requirements prior to admittance.
HOW DO I DECLARE A MINOR?
A student may earn a minor in a field outside their major by completing 5 to 7 three or four credit courses as designated by the department offering the minor. Students should meet with their academic advisor to officially declare the minor before the end of their junior year.
HOW MANY COURSES SHOULD I TAKE?
Full-time, traditional-aged students generally take FIVE 3- or 4-credit classes. In addition, some students may register for a one-credit writing tutorial and/or the Transitioning to College class. Full-time students normally take between 15 and 17 credits during their first semester.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I ONLY TAKE FOUR COURSES?
In order to have a lighter load, some students choose to take only four rather than five courses. Since a load of 12 or more credits is considered full-time, a four-course schedule is a viable option for students who need to be full-time but have a lot of other commitments. However, in order to graduate in the traditional four years with a bachelor’s degree or in two years with an associate degree, you need to successfully complete FIVE 3- or 4-credit courses each semester. Students who choose to take four courses during one or more semesters will have to make up courses during summer sessions or in extra semesters of study.
WHY IS THERE A TUTORIAL ON MY SCHEDULE? DO I NEED IT?
Based on the information you provided for your English Self Placement, you may be placed in either a FYS115 or ENG102 Tutorial. If you are registered for a tutorial, then you should make every effort to attend your weekly tutoring sessions. If you opt not to take the tutorial you must see your Academic Advisor to officially withdraw from the tutorial in order to avoid receiving a failing grade.
A typical conference lasts about 30 minutes. At the beginning of each session, you and the consultant discuss aspects of your writing and decide on a focus for the time available. Among other things, you might choose to:
- Brainstorm in order to uncover new ideas
- Discuss problems you are having getting started
- Work through revision possibilities within a draft in progress
- Address documentation of outside sources in your paper
- Go over rules of grammar and style
- Get help on editing and proofreading techniques
HOW OFTEN DOES EACH CLASS MEET?
A three-credit course meets for 150 minutes (2 ½ hours) each week. Some classes meet three times a week for 50 minutes each time, such as Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 to 10:50 a.m. Others meet twice a week for 75 minutes, such as Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m. Four-credit classes involve either longer class sessions or the traditional 2 ½ hours of class with an additional lab time required.
MAY I CHOOSE TO COMPLETE MY DEGREE ON A PART-TIME BASIS DURING THE DAY?
Yes, for a number of reasons many students elect to pursue their degree on a part-time basis, meaning less than 12 credits. If you will be attending part-time, your Academic Advisor will assist you in adapting the advice in this booklet to your individual situation. Be aware that if you are enrolled as a part-time student, you do not have the option of living on campus in the dorms.
WHAT DO THE LETTERS AND NUMBERS MEAN BEFORE THE COURSE TITLES, SUCH AS PSY101A (General Psychology)?
Undergraduate courses at Rivier University are designated, numerically, as 100-level, 200-level, 300-level and 400-level. Generally, these designations indicate levels of difficulty. For example, 100-level and 200-level courses may be considered introductory and appropriate for first-year and sophomore students. On the other hand, 300-level and 400-level courses are more advanced courses in a department and more appropriate for junior and senior majors and minors. Therefore, 300-level and 400-level courses often have prerequisites. The final letter indicates a specific section of that course. Different letters (A, B, C, D, E, etc.) indicate different times or teachers, not degree of difficulty.
WHAT IS A PREREQUISITE?
A prerequisite is a course or courses that you need to take before you can take certain other courses. For example, ENG115 (First-Year Writing Seminar) is a prerequisite for any other college level literature course. Similarly, FR101 French Language and Culture I is a prerequisite for FR102 French Language and Culture II because FR102 builds upon the knowledge you gain in FR101.
SHOULD I TAKE ELECTIVES IN MY FIRST SEMESTER?
No, we advise against taking electives this early in your program, unless you need an Introduction to Writing or Math I class to prepare you for our core classes. Many students prefer to keep these elective slots free to pursue a minor or other special interest courses later in their college careers.
WHAT IF I TOOK AN AP EXAM IN HIGH SCHOOL?
You should have any AP scores sent directly to Academic Advising so we can evaluate them for possible transfer credit. You should also let your academic advisor know you have AP credit immediately so that you are not scheduled to take a class that you may already have credit for through AP.
MAY I CHANGE MY SCHEDULE AFTER ORIENTATION?
Any time during the course of the summer and through the end of the first week of classes, you may make changes to your schedule. This process is called add/drop; you should contact your Academic Advisor for assistance with an add/drop.
HOW DO I CALCULATE MY GPA?
To determine a student’s academic status, the University uses a grade point system. Each grade has the numerical values listed. For example:
Grade points are computed by multiplying the course credit by the numerical value of the grade earned. For example, a three-credit course completed with a grade of C carries 6.00 (3 x 2.00). The grade-point average (GPA) is obtained by dividing the total number of grade points earned by the total number of credits attempted.
Sample report card and final GPA:
Total Grade Points
Total Grade Points
Divide total Grade Points (30) by Hours Attempted (15) to equal a semester GPA of 2.00
To calculate your overall GPA, add up all of your semester GPAs, and divide by the number of semesters added
WHAT IF I FAIL A COURSE, CAN I REPEAT IT?
If you fail a class you can retake that same course at Rivier. When you retake a failed course, grades for both attempts will show on your transcript but only the new grade will be calculated in your GPA.
HOW DO I REQUEST A COPY OF MY TRANSCRIPT?
Click here for the Registrar's Office page on Transcripts
HOW CAN I GET A COPY OF MY DEGREE REQUIREMENTS?
Stop by the Office of Academic Advising to get a copy of your audit sheet, often referred to as your backsheet, or a blank program audit sheet. You can also print out your degree audit by accessing your MYRIV account. Complete degree requirements are also listed in the Undergraduate Course Catalog, available online here.
WHAT ARE THESE DIFFERENT MARKS ON MY TRANSCRIPTS?
A “W” on your transcript indicates that you withdrew from a class after the add/drop period (the first week of classes). This mark has no impact on your GPA.
An “I” indicates an incomplete. If for reasons beyond the student’s control, the student is unable to complete some part of the course requirements, the professor may agree to allow the student an extension of time to complete the work, so long as the request is reasonable and made before the final examination date.
WHAT IS AN ACADMIC WARNING?
An academic warning is given to students the first time that their semester grade point average falls below a 2.0, which is the minimum standard of academic achievement at Rivier University. Although their overall grade point average may be above a 2.0, students are warned that they are placing themselves in academic jeopardy, should their academic performance continue to be below standard.
ACADEMIC PROBATION- WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS? WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?
Students are placed on Academic Probation when their cumulative grade point average falls below 2.0. Students are then required to meet with the Executive Director of Academic Administration to discuss strategies for successfully raising their grade point average to a 2.0 or higher. Once strategies for success have been identified, students sign a Personal Growth Contract to ensure their accountability for success.
Students that fail to meet the 2.0 grade point average for two consecutive semesters may be in jeopardy of being dismissed from the college. Students also need to be aware that academic failure can jeopardize their eligibility for financial aid.
WHEN WOULD A STUDENT BE ACADEMICALLY DISMISSED FROM RIVIER?
After two consecutive semesters of failing to achieve a cumulative grade point average of 1.0 or three consecutive semesters of failing to achieve a 2.0, students are academically dismissed from the college. In many cases, students have the right to appeal their academic dismissal by meeting with the Academic Dean of the University. The Academic Dean of the University may elect to permit the student to continue in their program of study at the University, however, the student will have to agree to meet the requirements for continuation, as deemed by the Academic Dean of the University.
HOW CAN I AVOID ACADEMIC DIFFICULTY?
There are many academic support services available to students which include writing services, tutoring, peer mentoring, career counseling, special needs services, counseling, and a course titled "Transitioning to College Life" that covers college skills development. Students can access these services through their academic advisor, peer mentor, or by meeting with the Executive Director of Academic Administration.
WHAT IS A PEER MENTOR? WHAT STUDENTS ARE ASSIGNED A PEER MENTOR AND HOW CAN I GET ONE?
Peer Mentors are upper-class students who are assigned to new freshmen to act as a type of "big brother-big sister" so that they can help freshmen navigate college life and learn how to adjust to the demands of academic and social life at Rivier. All first-year students will be assigned a mentor. For more information regarding the Peer Mentoring Program, please contact the Peer Mentoring Programs office by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling ext. 8567.
EARNING ALTERNATIVE CREDITS
CAN I TAKE COURSES OFF CAMPUS DURING THE SUMMER?
Students take courses during the summer for many reasons including having failed or dropped a class. Students can take classes at Rivier in the summer by registering with their academic advisor. Students who would like to take courses at another institution should bring a course description to their advisor for approval before signing up for any classes. Off-campus courses can only be transferred back into Rivier with prior approval and with a grade of C or better. Only the credit will transfer into a student’s program and not the grade, therefore GPA is not affected by off-campus courses. *(Nursing students wanting to take off-campus classes should see their academic advisor for more specific information.)
HOW DO I GET PERMISSION TO TAKE SUMMER COURSES OFF CAMPUS?
Talk to your academic advisor if you are planning to take summer courses at another institution. You will be required to submit the course title and number, and the official course description to make sure the course meets Rivier’s standards before the course will be approved. Once the course is completed, you must also request that an official transcript be sent to Rivier before credit will officially be granted. Please note that for most programs, you may only transfer in credits for courses you receive a grade of C or better.
HOW DO I TRANSFER IN CREDITS THAT I HAVE TAKEN OFF CAMPUS?
To transfer credits that you have already taken at another accredited university into your program at Rivier, you must contact the Registrar’s Office at the university where the course was taken and request an official transcript to be mailed to the Registrar’s Office at Rivier University. Once received, the transcript will be evaluated to see if the course and the grade attained for the course meet Rivier’s requirements. Typically, the grade earned must be a C or better to be considered for transfer, although some courses (i.e. nursing requirements) require at least a B. If you have taken AP courses in high school, Running Start courses, military or professional training, or CLEP exams, you are still required to contact the institution these were taken through and request official copies of the transcripts be sent here. *Please note that the last 30 credits you earn towards your degree must be completed at Rivier University.
WHAT IS A DIRECTED STUDY?
A student can request a directed study in two cases. The first is if a course that is needed as a graduation requirement is not being offered. The second is if the student is interested in pursuing a special topic course that Rivier does not offer. Either way, students must meet with their faculty advisor to discuss this option. Together, faculty advisors and students will determine assignments and meeting times to check on progress. All directed studies must be approved by the Academic Dean.
CAN I TEST OUT OF COURSES IN AREAS IN WHICH I AM ALREADY PROFICIENT?
There are two ways a student may be exempted from taking certain courses while still earning credit for them. The first is the Challenge Examination which is a one-time examination in a specific content area created by Rivier as an equivalent to a course. The method of examination varies, but to earn credit a student must score a C or better. No retakes are allowed, and it is the student’s responsibility to prepare for the exam. Students should contact their academic advisor, if interested, to discuss procedures, guidelines and fees.
The College-Level Examination Program ® (CLEP) is an alternative way to earn college credits by testing out of certain courses offered. CLEP is a way to save money and time by showing your proficiency in courses that you would otherwise take at Rivier. To earn credit, the test score must be at, or above, the 50th percentile for most exams, but see your advisor for the specific requirements. (*Please note that you cannot CLEP a course for credits during your last year at Rivier). For information on which tests are offered, where, costs, study guides and other details, visit the College Board website.
HOW CAN I DO AN INTERNSHIP FOR CREDIT?
Internships are a great way to get experience in your field and start building professional networks while building your resume as well. If you are interested in doing an internship, set up a meeting with your faculty advisor. Requirements, procedures and awarding of credits vary by department, but often an internship can be used to gain elective credits. Internships are typically done during the fall or spring semester, but can also be done over the summer break. Visit the Career Development Center for more information on internship options.
HOW CAN I FIND OUT ABOUT STUDYING ABROAD?
Students who wish to enrich and expand their educational experience through study abroad for a summer, semester, or year should discuss their plans in advance with their department chair and academic advisor. While Rivier does not sponsor any study abroad program, many excellent options are available. Students planning to spend their junior year abroad are encouraged to initiate necessary arrangements early in their sophomore year in order to be assured of a place in a foreign study program of their choice. Students are responsible for all planning and arrangements, including financing, housing, transportation and other personal expenses. Approval is needed from the Academic Dean to ensure courses taken through study abroad fulfill Rivier’s requirements.
HOW WILL I REGISTER FOR CLASSES FOR THE NEXT SEMESTER?
All full-time students receive registration material each semester before the priority registration period begins through their Rivier email account. Registration materials will be mailed home for part-time students. Students meet first with their faculty advisor, depending on their major (nursing, business and undeclared students are exempt), to select major courses and fill out a registration form, and then with their academic advisor to select core courses and complete their schedule.
CAN I DROP, ADD OR WITHDRAW FROM A CLASS DURING THE SEMESTER?
Students can drop a class and add another class during the first week of classes by seeing their academic advisor. After the first week of classes and prior to the last date to withdraw, dropping a class will show up as a “W” on your transcript (the “W” mark has no impact on GPA). Students should check the academic calendar to be aware off add/drop and withdrawal dates. Call your advisor if you are thinking about adding, dropping or withdrawing from a class.
HOW DO I TAKE A LEAVE OF ABSENCE OR WITHDRAW FROM THE COLLEGE?
To take a leave of absence or withdraw from the college, students must meet with their academic advisor to fill out the required paperwork, or if unable to return to campus, send a formal dated letter of intent. A tuition refund will be given based on the date of notification and according to the outlined refund schedule found in each semester’s course schedule booklets. (Note: Nursing majors who take an LOA will be readmitted to the program on a space-available basis).
HOW DO I NOTIFY THE COLLEGE/PROFESSORS IF I NEED TO LEAVE TEMPORARILY FOR AN EMERGENCY?
If an emergency occurs and you need to leave campus and miss classes, notify your academic advisor and your professors as soon as possible. You may be required to provide documentation at the discretion of your professors or other administrators, especially if you are missing exams or due dates, or if you are missing a significant number of classes. Each professor will determine with the student how and if work that is missed will be made up and the timeframe in which the work needs to be completed.
WHAT KINDS OF JOBS CAN I OBTAIN WITH MY MAJOR?
Staff at the Career Development Center can help you learn about job opportunities and career paths for graduates in each of the majors Rivier offers.
Also visit Monster's Major to Career Converter
WHERE CAN I GET HELP WRITING MY RESUME?
Rivier's Career Development Center can help you with your resume.