Whether you are coming to Western directly from your home country or after having attended high school, community college, or another college or university in the US, you may find that the academic culture at WWU is different from your previous institution. There are many systems in place to support you in your academic career at Western. If you have any questions or find yourself struggling academically, it is important that you seek assistance early. While ISSS is only able to provide basic academic advising, we are always happy to meet with students to discuss any issues and can connect you with the appropriate resources.
The Academic Advising Center provides advising services to degree-seeking students who have not yet declared a major. We encourage students to meet with an academic advisor at least once a year to ensure good progress towards academic goals and to stay current on policies and opportunities. Professional Advisors and Peer Advisors in the Academic Advising Center can help students with a wide range of topics, including: course selection and registration, GUR progress, choosing a major/minor, and understanding Western's academic policies. The Academic Advising Center also provides a number of helpful online resources, including the very useful GPA calculator and GUR checklist.
After declaring a major, students will meet with an advisor in their major department to create a plan of study for completion of the major.
The Bridge Program was designed to help international freshmen and transfer students make a successful transition into WWU classes. The program offers specialized academic writing classes as well as courses covering academic resources, professor expectations, and WWU student rights and responsibilities. Students who enroll in the Bridge Program their first quarter at Western find that they are better prepared going into their second quarter and generally achieve a higher GPA than students who do not take the Bridge classes.
Credits and Credit Loads
Credits are assigned to a class based on the amount and type of work expected from a typical student in class. Classes will be assigned one credit for each hour per week of classroom discussion or lecture, and one credit for every two hours per week of laboratory or practice/rehearsal involving some preparation or reporting. The standard load per quarter for undergraduates is 15 credits. In order to graduate in four years, students must average 15 credits per quarter. Students may withdraw from classes in accordance with the withdrawal policies, however international students must have at least 12 credits in order to maintain their visa status. If you have any questions about the 12 credit requirement, please see ISSS.
Libraries and Learning Commons
Western Libraries are your source for both physical and online research materials. Wilson Library (which spills over into Haggard Hall by way of the skybridge) is the main library on campus. It's home to the Learning Commons, Zoe's Bookside Bagels, and the so-called "Harry Potter Room" (pictured). Library staff are always available to assist you and can be contacted via phone, text, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and online chat. The library features a variety of study spaces, from designated quiet space to reservable rooms for group projects. And during exam time, you will find some furry friends hanging out in the library to help you de-stress.
The Learning Commons brings together resources and programs to advance teaching and learning. Learning Commons highlights include:
- Tutoring Center -- The Tutoring Center offers drop-in tutoring, tutor-led study groups, and individual study skills tutoring to all WWU students. They are also available for academic skills presentations by request, and provide a wide variety of materials, including calculators, textbooks, solution manuals, worksheets, and useful links. Their academic success videos on time management, note taking, and GPA are especially recommended.
- Writing Center -- The Writing Center provides support in all stages of the writing process -- brainstorming, outlining, organizing ideas, etc. The Writing Center is not an editing or proofreading service, but a resource to help you with the development and structure of your paper. They offer in-person and online conferences as well as a number of materials to guide you in your writing.
- Student Technology Center -- The Student Technology Center supports the advancement of student knowledge of technology from fundamental skills to advanced applications. The STC is a place where students attend workshops, schedule peer tutoring, and make use of manuals, tutorials and other advanced equipment and software to promote their learning. STC laptops can be checked out for use in the library.
The Math Center offers tutoring for higher-level math classes. The Center provides tutoring in mathematical subjects including calculus, linear algebra, statistics, and differential equations. The Center is staffed by the Math Fellows, an exceptional group of undergraduate students chosen by the department because of their performance in mathematics and their desire to help others succeed. The Math Fellows are trained to teach good problem-solving techniques and guide the learner through the process of building mathematical understanding.
Don't be afraid to speak with your professors! If you have any questions about the coursework or need help understanding something, ask your professor. Most professors have established office hours during which you can just drop in and meet with them -- these office hours are usually outlined in the course syllabus. You can also contact the professor by phone or e-mail -- again, this information is usually on the syllabus -- or set up an appointment. If you're not sure where your professor's office is or how to contact them, see the department website or use the WWU directory.
The Registrar's Office handles all of the administrative aspects of academics at Western. If you need to get an official copy of your transcript, want more information on registration, or are getting ready for graduation, the Registrar's Office is the place to go.
Some international students find that because of language issues, they need a bit of extra time to complete exams. Additional time exams are at the discretion of the professor. If your professor grants permission, you may take your exam at the Testing Center. Your professor will need to complete an online form authorizing the extra time.