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Center for Excellence in Spires Teaching and Learning: Advising Resources

University of Saint Mary's site for teaching and learning resources and professional development opportunities

Advising view on eSpire

Advising 101 Course Enrollment tips

Advising 101

Take home points:

  • Need 128 hours to graduate (incoming freshman in 2019 will need 120)
  • Only 64 hours from 2 year colleges can count;  need 64 4-year college hours
  • Only 4 activity hours allowed in that 128 – note that First Aid is NOT an activity course
  • Need 42 upper level hours (courses numbered 300 or above)
  • At least 30 hours from USM
  • Of the last 30 hours, 24 must be completed at USM (essentially, students may complete two courses elsewhere as they near completion)
  • Need a GPA of 2.0
  • Need a GPA of 2.0 in the upper level hours of the major  (some majors require a higher gpa)
  • See below for the current Gen Ed requirements 
  • If a class is co-listed – for example, HIPS – it can count for EITHER HI or PS, but not both.  Students, however, do not have to declare which one they are opting for right away.  If they take a HIPS course in their sophomore year, then in their junior or senior year, they know they still have to do EITHER a HI or a PS (or economics, or global studies, or geography) course.


The following are the general education requirements for bachelor’s degrees on the University of Saint Mary main campus for students entering as traditional age freshmen after Fall 2015 or transfer students entering with less than 12 transferrable credit hours of college work:

____ First Year Experience I & II (6 hours)

____ English Composition I & II (6 hours)

(English Composition I is a writing competency course. All students must receive a grade of “C” or higher in the course or re-take the course)

____ Three Idea Seminars (3 hours each)   (number is prorated for transfers)

(Idea Seminars may apply to the Areas of Investigation listed below)

Completion of the following Areas of Investigation:

____ Two Theology courses (6 hours)

(3 hours are lower level and 3 hours are upper level) – need to do lower level course before upper level course – cannot leave both until last semester

____ a Philosophy course (3 hours)

____ a History course (3 hours)

____ a Literature course (3 hours)

____ a Fine Arts course (3 hours)   ensure the class is a 3 credit class – cannot take three one-credit classes

____ a Behavioral Science course (3 hours)

(Criminology, Psychology, or Sociology courses)

____ a Social Science course (3 hours)

(Political Science, Economics, Global Studies, or Geography)

____ a Mathematics course (3 hours)

(Must be USM MA 125 or higher; the prerequisite for MA 125 is MA 115 or approved equivalent) one course beyond MA 115, Intermediate Algebra

____ a Natural Science course with lab (3 – 4 hours)   NS, BI, CH or PHY – lab doesn’t have to be done concurrently – we have NS 108 Lab Topics to take if somebody takes a lecture only NS/BI/CH/PHY class

____ a Lifetime Physical Wellness course (3 hours)-can substitute EX 225  Health and Wellness since SCA 250 Lifetime Wellness will not be offered after Summer 2019 

For students majoring in Art, English, History, Music, Pastoral Ministry and Theatre excluding students preparing for secondary education who complete the University of Saint Mary teacher education program, including student teaching, prior to graduation:

____ a Second Language: college-level Elementary I & II (or approved equivalent) of the same language

For students majoring in Global Studies the above second language requirement applies as well as additional second language courses.

How do I find time to meet with each of my advisees?

  1. Towards the end of a week, I create a doodle poll for the next week with all my free time allocated into 15 minute slots.  Only 1 advisee is able to sign up for a single slot and an advisee can only sign up for 1 slot (settings parameters).  This link gets emailed to advisees.
  2. Once they sign up for a slot, I put it on my calendar, and theirs. 
  3. The night before their appointment, I create / update 2 documents. 
  4. One is an excel spreadsheet.  Another is a word document with a semester by semester plan. 
  5. I check the number of hours, the number of upper level hours, requirements etc with “GRADE REPORT” and “DEGREE AUDIT”/”DEGREE AUDIT REPORT
  6. I create notes in “Advising Meeting Scheduler”.
  7. I meet the student and clear them for enrollment. Either we pick courses together or they send me their proposed schedule for approval.  Remember to mark the student "cleared for registration" in order for them to select classes.

*If they have a hold on their account, they might have to visit the business office to set up a payment plan before they are allowed to enroll in courses

*Enroll students in 15-18 hours for full time status to allow for wiggle room if they need to drop a course later on

* Remind students to have any transcripts sent to the registrar's office to have transfer hours documented on their degree audit




Tips for Soft Advising or Mentoring

Our advising role is more than just meeting with students to select courses. Here are some questions you can ask to get to know your advisees so that you can provide guidance and mentoring:

-Tell me about your family, hometown, experiences in high school

-What was your favorite class in high school? Why?

-What are you good at, what is challenging for you?

-What are your hobbies, interests, how do you spend your free time?

-How do you learn best?

-What is your dream job?

-How can I help you be successful?

-Why did you pick this major?

-What do you worry about?

-Favorites: Food, Music, TV Shows, Movies, etc

The better you get to know your advisees as people, the easier it is to help them succeed. And easier to have difficult conversations when they are not succeeding. 


Common advising errors to avoid

These are some common errors that result in waivers requested or graduation delays. If you are unsure how to proceed, please contact the registrar's office before making a decision that might cause problems for the student later on:

  • Make sure you are using a current degree plan or degree audit. Course numbers and degree requirements change so be sure you are using the correct one for the academic catalog the student entered USM under.
  • Check prerequisites/co-requisites for a course a student plans to enroll in
  • If a student is a double major or has a minor in a different filed, have the student meet with the other program to ensure all requirements are being met
  • If a student wants to drop a course, make sure they still will be at full time status for athletic eligibility and financial aid purposes
  • To avoid scheduling conflicts be proactive during the schedule development phase and let division chairs know of any possible conflicts you have noticed in previous semesters that may prevent students from enrolling in two courses that may have been offered at the same time previously
  • If students are planning on taking summer classes at a different institution, they should check with the registrar to make sure the course will transfer before signing up for the class
  • Currently, students do not receive credit for 006 EN and 006 Math so those classes should not be figured in as credits towards graduation

Stay tuned for more....