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Frequently Ask Questions

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  1. Who is my advisor?
  2. What – specifically – does my College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) advisor do for me?
  3. What should I do to prepare for an advising appointment? 
  4. What is the difference between a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.)?
  5. Where can I find information on tutoring?
  6. I’ve just found out I’m on academic probation. Now what?
  7. I’ve been academically dismissed. Now what?
  8. I’ve received a notification from Financial Aid indicating that I need to contact you to review my academic progress in order to continue receiving aid. How do I do that?
  9. Do I need permission to transfer a course to NIU? How do I know if a course will transfer to NIU?
  10. How do I calculate my GPA?
  11. How do I drop or withdraw from a course?
  12. How do I withdraw from the university?

Who is my advisor?

Students enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences have two advisors: a college advisor and a major advisor. 

College advisors will help you establish academic goals, plan your schedule and keep track of college and graduation requirements. If you change majors, your college advisor can clarify how that change might impact both completed and upcoming coursework. You are not assigned to any one specific college advisor; all advisors are prepared to help. To make an appointment with a college advisor, call 815-753-0114.

Once you have decided on a major, you will see your major advisor to track your progress. Your major advisor has a strong background in the curriculum and a clear understanding of what courses should be planned with others to best serve your interests and needs. You should contact your major advisor as soon as you choose your major. Your college advisor can provide you with that contact information.

If you are interested in a minor area of study or a certificate, your college advisor can refer you to the appropriate advisor.

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What – specifically – does my College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) advisor do for me?

See your college advisor regularly to track your progress toward meeting university and college requirements. They can help you understand your Academic Requirements Report and audit.

You must see your college advisor to initiate:

  1. Course drops during the second week of the semester.
  2. Course withdrawals beginning the third week of the semester.
  3. University withdrawals.
  4. Overload permits to take over 18 credit hours in a semester (9 credit hours in summer).
  5. Senior transfer credit and concurrent enrollment requests.
  6. Permission for a third enrollment in a class.
  7. Special exceptions to stated academic policy.

The college advisor also provides information and assistance for students who are experiencing academic difficulties including academic probation or dismissal.

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What should I do to prepare for an advising appointment? 

Prepare, be on time, and be ready to take good notes.

Take time to explore some course descriptions and make some tentative choices we can discuss. It is perfectly acceptable not to know what you should take and in what order, but our time together will be more productive if you can tell us what types of courses interest you. If you have fewer than 40 earned hours, most of your selections will probably be from the general education requirements of the undergraduate catalog.

Bring any notes you have from previous meetings with your major and minor advisors. This information could be useful to see how those courses fit with your other university requirements.

If you are inquiring about correspondence you have received from the university, bring a copy of the email or letter you received.

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What is the difference between a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.)?

The departments of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences offer baccalaureate programs leading to the degrees Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.). 

Candidates for the Bachelor of Arts degree must demonstrate competence in a foreign language. This requirement can be met by 1) four years of one foreign language with no grade lower than a C at an accredited high school; 2) a four semester sequence in a traditional foreign language; or 3) a two semester sequence in a non-traditional foreign language. To see which languages NIU offers, check the undergraduate catalog. A student may be exempt from this requirement if they can demonstrate competence equal to the work required in the last course in one of the sequences listed above on a test administered through the NIU Office of Testing Services OR if a student is registered as an international student at NIU with a native language other than English.

Candidates for the Bachelor of Science degree must demonstrate competence in laboratory science/mathematical/computational skills. This requirement can be met by completing a four semester sequence listed in the undergraduate catalog. The sequences listed are the minimum requirements for the B.S. degree and some departments have additional course requirements in the laboratory/mathematical sciences. If you are seeking a B.S. degree, see an advisor to determine which sequence to complete and which additional courses may be required for your major.

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Where can I find information on tutoring?

NIU has a variety of resources to assist you with studying through ACCESS. These include time management advice, tutoring resources, study groups, supplemental instruction and much more.

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I’ve just found out I’m on academic probation. Now what?

Meet with your college advisor. Discuss the status of your current and future coursework to determine what is needed to get back to the minimum university standard of a 2.0 GPA and avoid academic dismissal. Each student on academic probation is sent a letter and urged to come see their advisor. Making and keeping appointments to see your college academic advisor is the responsibility of the student.

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I’ve been academically dismissed. Now what?

If you want to petition to return to NIU for the upcoming semester, you will need to write a letter of appeal. Your letter should contain three parts:

  1. The specific schedule you would enroll in if permitted to return to NIU for the following semester.
  2. What the problems were that led to your current status.
  3. How next semester's situation will improve.

Additionally, your letter should include your name, z-id number, signature, address, and daytime telephone number.

You may choose to mail or drop off your letter of appeal in our office. Our address is:
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Advising Office
201 Zulauf Hall
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
You also may choose to fax your letter to us at 815-753-5904.

Your appeal letter will be reviewed by our committee. We will write to the address you provide. Upon receipt of our response, you may call our office and make an appointment with an advisor. If you appeal your dismissal, we would encourage you to follow through with an appointment if you are denied. Be ready to formulate a plan for the future.

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I’ve received a notification from Financial Aid indicating that I need to contact you to review my academic progress in order to continue receiving aid. How do I do that?

Each student who receives notification about their academic progress (Satisfactory Academic Progress or SAP) should receive a packet in the mail or a link via email explaining how to proceed with the appeal process. You will need to meet with a college advisor to fill out some paperwork, and you will need to write a letter of appeal.  You should submit these documents to both financial aid and your advisor.

For additional information about this process, see the SAP information posted on Financial Aid’s website.

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Do I need permission to transfer a course to NIU? How do I know if a course will transfer to NIU?

If you are currently enrolled at NIU, you should make an appointment with your college advisor prior to completing any transfer coursework to make sure that the courses you are planning to take will apply to your degree. Schedule an appointment by calling 815.753.0114 or stopping by Zulauf Hall, room 201.

If you are taking courses at NIU AND at another instutition in the same semester,  you must obtain prior approval from your college advisor. Schedule an appointment by calling 815.753.0114 or stopping by Zulauf Hall, room 201.

If you are a senior (have earned 90 or more credit hours) wishing to transfer credit to NIU, you must obtain prior approval from your college advisor. Schedule an appointment by calling 815.753.0114 or stopping by Zulauf Hall, room 201.

If the courses you are taking are transferring from an Illinois public community college, you can check the online articulation tables to determine how these courses will transfer to NIU.

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How do I calculate my GPA?

You can use the NIU GPA Calculator to quickly and easily calculate your GPA. You can find your current GPA listed on your academic requirements report in MyNIU. If you have specific questions about improving your GPA, contact a college advisor. 

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How do I drop or withdraw from a course?

For information on course drops or withdrawals, see the course drops & withdrawals page.

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How do I withdraw from the university?

For information on university withdrawals, see the course drops & withdrawals page.

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Contact Us

815-753-0114 tel
815-753-5904 fax

Zulauf Hall 201