College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Advising - Zulauf Hall 201 - 815-753-0114

Frequently Asked Questions

  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 “study tips?”
  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 Student 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 a program in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS) or students who are undecided on a major within 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, keep track of minimum university and college requirements, and review requirements for graduation. If you change majors, your college advisor can clarify how that change might impact the coursework you have already completed and the courses you are planning for upcoming semesters. Students are not assigned to any one specific college advisor; all advisors are prepared to help you. To make an appointment with a college advisor, please call 815-753-0114.

Once you have decided upon a major, you will see your major advisor to track your progress in your major area of study. Your major advisor has a strong background in the curriculum of your major 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 know what you want your major to be. Your college advisor (see above) can provide you with contact information for your major advisor.

Should you find you are interested in a minor area of study or a certificate, your college advisor can refer you to the advisor you can contact for more information.

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

You should see your college advisor regularly for help in tracking your progress toward meeting university and college requirements related to core competencies, distributive studies, Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, and upper-division, residency and transfer hours. If you need help understanding your Academic Requirements Report or audit, your college advisor can assist you.

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 (lack of attendance does not constitute withdrawal).
  4. Overload permits for more than 18 credit hours in one semester (9 credit hours in summer).
  5. Senior transfer credit and concurrent enrollment requests (which must be requested in advance).
  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 or who are on academic probation or dismissal.

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What should I do to prepare for an advising appointment? 

Think of an advising session as you would think of going to class: prepare, be on time, and be ready to take good notes.

To prepare, take time to explore some course descriptions and make some tentative choices we can discuss. It is perfectly acceptable to not know exactly 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 need to be from the part of the undergraduate catalog dealing with general education requirements.  (Use the navigation on the left to find "General Education Requirements.")

It is a good idea to create and print a plan for the following semester. If you are not sure how to create a plan, consult the training tools page at http://www.niu.edu/myniutraining/training/student_training.shtml. If you cannot create a wish list in MyNIU, at least write down what classes you are interested in taking during the following semester.

Bring any notes you have from meeting with your major and minor advisors. This information could be useful to see how those courses fit with your other university requirements as we help you plan for the next semester or two. If you are inquiring about correspondence you have received from the university, it would be wise to bring a printed 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 comepetence 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) completion of a four semester sequence in a traditional foreign language; or 3) completion of a two semester sequence in a non-traditional foreign language. To see which languages NIU offers, please check the undergraduate catalog. A student may be exempt (no credit awarded) 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 four-skills test (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) 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 squence listed in the undergraduate catalog. Students should note that the sequences listed are intended to be minimum requirements for the B.S. degree and that some departments have additional course requirements in the laboratory/mathematical sciences for their majors. Students seeking the B.S. degree should see an advisor to determine which sequence to complete and what additional courses may be required for their major.

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Where can I find information on “study tips?”

NIU has a variety of resources to assist students in study skills. Please see our online resources for various study tips through ACCESS: http://www.niu.edu/access. These resources include, but are not limited to, managing time, tutoring resources, study groups and supplemental instruction.

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

As soon as you have learned that you are or that you will be on academic probation, it is important to meet with your college advisor. Discussing the status of your current coursework as well as your plans for future semesters will help you understand what is needed to get back to the minimum university standard of a 2.0 and avoid potential academic dismissal. Each student on academic probation is sent a letter to their address on record and urged to come in to 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?

You have received a letter from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences explaining that you have been academically dismissed. Now it is time to figure out what is right for you.

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 Student 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 want to follow the letter of appeal, first reading carefully all of the do’s and don’ts of what is appropriate for an appeal. You should submit your original appeal letter and appeal form to the Financial Aid office. Prior to turning in your letter, please make a copy of it for our office.

For additional information about this process, see the SAP information posted on Financial Aid’s website: http://www.niu.edu/fa/policies/sap.shtml

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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 or are reentering NIU, you should make an appointment with your college advisor prior to completing any transfer coursework to make sure that the course(s) you are planning to take will apply to your degree requirements.  Appointments can be made in Zulauf 201 or you can call 815-753-0114. If you are planning to transfer courses from an Illinois public community college, you can check the online articulation tables to determine how your course(s) will transfer to NIU.

If you are taking more than two NIU courses in a semester or more than one in a summer session,  you must obtain prior approval from your college for any concurrent enrollment (enrolled at NIU and another institution at the same time). You can do this through an appointment with a college advisor or by stopping by the main office, Zulauf 201, to complete a concurrent permission request. You may also fax signed written requests to 815-753-5904.

If you have earned 90 semester hours of credit or if you will exceed 90 semester hours of credit upon transfer of that credit, you must obtain prior approval from your college. You can do this through an appointment with a college advisor or by stopping by the main office, Zulauf 201, to complete a senior transfer credit request.  You may also fax signed written requests to 815-753-5904.

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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 & withdrawls page.

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