The Start of Classes
Once classes have actually begun, students enter and exit classes in different ways. Usually, for the first few days of classes, online registration is available; students themselves may drop and add classes.
When late registration begins, students may no longer register online. If students wish to drop or add classes, they must complete drop/add forms, which they obtain from the Registrar. These forms require that instructors and department heads sign for any drop or add. Different departments have different policies about these forms; new department heads need to familiarize themselves with these policies.
Once the drop/add period has ended, students may not add a class unless they complete both an add form and a petition for late registration. On this form, they must give a reason why they are registering beyond the deadlines. There forms must be signed by department heads or appropriate directors, the Dean, and the VPAA.
If students wish to withdraw from classes, they may do so without penalty until midterm; however, they must obtain a withdrawal form from the Registrar. These forms are dated for financial aid purposes. The instructor must sign the form. Before midterm, the instructor must assign a W; after midterm, the instructor may assign a W or a WF, depending on a student’s average. Withdrawals after midterm must be for nonacademic reasons.
As you can see from the paperwork involved, the first week of class can be quite hectic. Departmental offices often are overrun with students trying to get into classes, get out of classes, etc. Department heads and directors need to plan for these days with faculty, departmental secretaries, and student assistants. Department heads and directors need not be involved in every transaction but will be very busy nonetheless. They should plan for several days of troubleshooting.
Within the first week or so of classes, the Registrar issues proofrolls for all classes. Within the week, all faculty must sign these rolls. They should add any students not on their rolls and delete students who have not attended. These rolls are crucial for determination of financial aid; they must be returned by the requested date. Departmental secretaries should copy them before taking them to the Office of the Registrar.
Faculty assigns both in-progress (midterm) and final grades through BANNER. Faculty—including part-time faculty--may access their grade sheets and enter their grades. In-progress grades must be entered for all 1000 and 2000-level courses.
If courses require field trips, department heads should have appropriate faculty complete authorization forms, signed by faculty and department heads, who submit them to the Dean for his or her signature. Students on these trips must sign the “Field Trip Authorization and Waiver of Liability,” available at http://chiron.valdosta.edu/academic/forms/field trip authorization.
Department heads and directors often are first stops for both new students and returning students.
Department heads often see many of the students who wish to declare a major. Forms for this declaration are available from the Registrar, and departments should keep some on hand. These forms must be completed by students and signed by departments from which students transfer (or LAS, if the student has yet to declare a major) and by the receiving department. Students should take completed change-of-major forms to receiving departments; afterward, they must deliver a copy to the Office of the Registrar.
Advising students is one of the most important tasks of all academic departments and programs, and generally all tenured and tenure-track faculty serve as advisers. In Arts and Sciences, faculty may advise LAS (undecided) students, majors, and graduate students. When students declare majors, department heads should assign them academic advisers. Sometimes the head may assign advisers because of students’ particular tracks or concentrations or to equalize advisement duties among all faculty members. Departments and programs should track all advisees and advisers, maintaining current, accurate records.
VSU has designated advising weeks during each semester; however, advising often occurs daily. When an adviser receives a student’s folder, that folder should contain all the relevant information on that student, including transfer credits and courses already taken. Departments and programs should use advisement forms, which need to be updated continually by advisers and students. At least two semesters prior to graduation, advisers and students need to submit an “Application to Graduate,” which should be attached to a copy of the completed departmental advising form. In that way, the Office of the Registrar can cross-check the adviser’s calculations.
As part of the advising process, advisers may need to substitute one course for another required course (especially with transfer students) or to waive a course. Both actions require the appropriate paperwork, which must be signed by both the advisers and department heads. If the course substitution is in another field, department heads should call other appropriate department heads for advice.
When advising students, sometimes advisers discover that they cannot meet the on-campus schedule of courses. Alternatives include on-line courses, telecourses GSAMS, and eCore (all through GLOBE) and correspondence and on-line work through USG Independent Study. Department heads and directors should have reference information on these alternative delivery systems.
In addition to good advising, successful departments and programs find other ways to attract and retain students, such as the creation and encouragement of student clubs, student-faculty socials, etc.
With students who are increasingly familiar with the World Wide Web, home pages have become an important recruiting and communication tool. Many department heads and directors refer students to departmental home pages for basic information, such as descriptions of upcoming classes, descriptions of various tracks and programs, two-year rotations, etc. To attract students, this source may prove to be as useful as a brochure. If prospective students call for information, department heads and directors usually refer them to this page.
Departments have many other opportunities to interact with new and prospective students. Visitation Days are held on various Saturdays throughout the academic year. At these sessions, prospective students and their families come to VSU. On these Saturday mornings, a representative from the department should set up a display and answer questions. Orientation sessions run throughout the summer and at special times during the year. These sessions, for both new and transfer students, are for advising. On the day before the session, the department should receive data on these students, which should be incorporated into folders for advising sessions. Once again, a faculty member needs to be present at each session.
Each spring semester, the College of Arts and Sciences sponsors the Undergraduate Research Symposium. All departments should encourage the participation of its majors and minors, including submission of proposals and attendance at students’ presentations. Students submitting proposals for either papers or poster sessions should work closely with sponsoring faculty.