Student Advisement

If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else. - Yogi Berra


Careful planning is essential for making the most out of your college experience. The planning process can be roughly divided into short term and long term planning.

Short-Term Planning - Assessing Your Status

A good beginning point for registration is to figure out which classes you'll need to take. Freshmen and Sophomores should focus mostly on taking core classes. These are a wide range of basic courses in the Arts and Sciences. The purpose of the Core is to provide a broad education. The classes and areas of the core are described further in this document from the Registrar's Office. Juniors and Seniors should take mostly upper-level psychology courses, courses in their minor/certificate, and general elective courses.

The matriculation plan has suggestions for courses based upon your class rank. It is also good to track the courses that you have already taken to see how these fit into the program's graduation requirements. RAIN has a feature called Degreeworks that will map your courses on to the program requirements. Another helpful resource is this checklist for tracking your progress. Check off the courses that you have completed, then take the remaining courses. The official curriculum sheets are also available from the Registrar's Office. These sheets ask you to fill-in the semester and grade for each course that you complete. The official curriculum sheet must be completed when you apply for graduation in your Senior year.

Short-Term Planning - Registration

Once you have assessed your curriculum status, look at the RAIN system ( to see the courses are being offered in the semester that you intend to enroll. Use the drop-down menu to select the page for course offerings.

RAIN login

Selecting "class schedules" from the menu will take you to a page with links to future terms. Click on the term that you are interested in. This will bring up a list of courses that will look something like this:

RAIN courses

Look through the course offerings to find the classes that you need. The classes with a "C" on the left are closed. The blue numbers on the left are CRN numbers. Clicking on these numbers will give a course description.

To register for courses, find the courses that you want and write down their CRN numbers. When you have completed this task, go back to the RAIN homepage. Select the "secured login" link from the drop-down menu. When you log in, find the link for registration. Clicking on this link will bring you to a page where you can enter the CRNs for the courses that you want to take.

Freshmen and graduating seniors must meet with their adviser to register. In these cases, please bring your checksheet and desired course list to the meeting. We can meet before the registration period starts to lift the advisement hold.

For most students 15 credit hours per semester is recommended because it will lead to 30 credit hours per year and graduation in four years (120 credits are needed to graduate, not including PE classes). You can take up to 18 credit hours without special approval. Taking over 18 credit hours is generally not recommended, but can be done in some circumstances. Taking more than 18 credits is called an "overload" and requires special permission and a completed Request for overload hours form. You need to have a minimum of 12 credit hours to be a full-time student.

Short-Term Planning - After Registration

Sometimes students need to make class changes after they have registered. Before the semester starts, you can make class changes in the RAIN system. After the semester starts your options are more limited. You can drop classes during the add/drop period, which is typically the first three days of a new semester. Once the add/drop period is finished, the only option is to withdraw from classes.

It is important to understand that dropping a class and withdrawing from a class are not the same, even though these terms sound similar. If you drop a class during the add/drop period the class will disappear from your transcript and you will have no grade for it. You will also have no tuition charges for dropped classes. Withdrawal from a class is different because you will 1) get a grade of W for the class on your transcript and 2) owe tuition for the class. The following description from Helen Tate (Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs) explains the difference: The “add/drop” period (which is only the first few days of the semester) allows a student to drop a class, receive a refund, and the course dropped is never recorded on the transcript. After add/drop ends, students can only choose to withdraw. Withdrawing means they lose tuition and the W is recorded on the transcript and can negatively impact their financial aid.

On some occasions, you will need to fill out forms to accomplish special tasks. The Student Forms web page has a list of forms for special purposes, such as the application for graduation form and the change of major form.

Activities Outside of the Classroom

Graduate schools and employers prefer students who have been involved in campus activities outside the classroom. These might include the Psychology/Sociology Club, study abroad experiences, and other campus organizations. Volunteer work with local charities is also valuable experience for advancing your career.

Students who are pursuing careers in counseling or social services should consider doing an internship before graduation. The internship provides valuable career experiences that cannot be obtained in a classroom. For more information, please read the internship pages from our department.

Preparing for Graduation

You must apply for graduation about one year before your anticipated graduation date. The following forms must be filled out. We will meet to discuss the remaining requirements, then the forms are sent to the Registrar's Office. There is a fee for submitting this paperwork that will be charged to your bill.

The graduation packet includes:

The Registrar's Office will process these forms, then send feedback about any remaining graduation requirements.

During your last semester you will need to order your cap and gown rental and graduation photos if you intend to participate in the graduation for graduation ceremony details. Please refer to the Information for Graduating Students page for details. This page includes information on the kinds of graduation ceremony regalia that are allowed from student organizations.

Long-Term Planning - Careers

A career planning is an important part of advisement. Career decisions will affect you for the rest of your life, so be careful in considering your options.

There are a number of resources to help you make career decisions:

Long-Term Planning - Graduate School

The next important component of long term planning needs to focus on the kind of training that you will need to achieve your career goals. Many occupations in psychology require a master's degree and possibly licensing to practice counseling. This is typically two years of additional training beyond the bachelors degree for a masters degree in the field of counseling. For Ph.D. or Psy.D. students, this might be four to six years of additional training.

Please keep in mind that admission into graduate school programs is a competitive process. Students who intend to enroll in a masters-level program should have at least a 2.8 cumulative GPA. Prospective doctoral students should have a 3.4 GPA or higher. The bottom line is that you can't realistically expect to get into graduate school if you slack off in your college courses.

Some useful links about graduate education in psychology:

Graduate school training is not necessary to have a decent job and a satisfying career. Many psychology program graduates are successful without advanced degrees. It is important to understand, however, that most positions in counseling and social services do require advanced degrees.


College planning is not hard, but it is important to do this properly in order to make the most of your academic career. Follow the steps outline above and you'll achieve your career goals with a minimal amount of hassle.

Last update: December 29, 2015