Frequently Asked Questions for Students

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Course Delivery

How will courses be offered in the spring 2021 semester?

Course offerings will include online, face-to-face and hybrid courses. Here’s what you can expect from each of these course-delivery methods.

  • Online courses – Fully online courses are being designed with careful planning to be flexible and to foster a sense of community, so that students are not learning on their own. In these courses, you might experience live conferencing and lectures; recorded content with no required meeting; or some combination of the two. In all cases, students and their professors will have an active presence in the virtual classroom.
  • Face-to-face courses – These courses will be like what you’ve experienced in the past. Courses selected to be face-to-face—including laboratory classes and clinicals—require personal interactions, and the class sizes are small enough, or the academic spaces large enough, to maintain proper physical distancing.
  • Hybrid courses – In hybrid courses, your learning experience will include both online and face-to-face interactions. For example, a science or engineering course might have online lessons with regular hands-on laboratory experiences.

It’s important for you to connect with your advisor to understand your options or make any necessary schedule changes. Newly admitted students will receive more information about classes in advance of orientation, where you will work with your advisor on selecting the best options for you. Please continue to check your NIU email for updates.

Which classes will be in-person? Online? A combination?

When you register for courses in MyNIU, the course mode will be labeled accordingly as online, hybrid, face-to-face, etc. It will be important for you to connect with your advisor to understand your options or make any necessary changes. Newly admitted students will receive more information about classes in advance of orientation, where you will work with your advisor on selecting the best options for you. Please continue to check your NIU email for updates.

How did NIU decide which courses would be face-to-face?

Courses selected to be face-to-face—including laboratory classes and clinicals—require personal interactions, and the class sizes are small enough, or the academic spaces large enough, to maintain proper physical distancing.

Will my online classes require me to log in at a certain time or on my own time?

It will depend on the course and the professor. Generally, in an online course, you might experience live conferencing and lectures that require you to log in at a certain time; recorded content with no required meeting; or some combination of the two. In all cases, students and their professors will have an active presence in the virtual classroom.

What is a hybrid course?

In hybrid courses, the learning experience will include both online and face-to-face interactions. For example, a science or engineering course might have online lessons with regular hands-on laboratory experiences. When you register for a hybrid course, you will see both online (100%) and a classroom listed under the “room” for this course. There will be course meeting times listed. When you click on the course detail, you will see what days the course will meet face-to-face and what days the course will be held online. 

What if I don’t want to take any online courses?

If you have concerns about online learning, please speak with your advisor. While there are some face-to-face offerings, it’s likely you’ll have online courses in your schedule. Unfortunately, the uncertain situation with the pandemic—and current physical distancing guidelines—have required the university to proceed in this fashion.

Registration

Who can I talk to about my course schedule or professors?

You should talk to your advisors when creating your fall schedule. If you’re unsure who your advisor is, the advising website will help you. Additionally, if you are undecided on your major, you can also call the Academic Advising Center at 815-753-2573 or email aac@niu.edu. If you currently have a major, contact your department or college office to identify your advisor. If you are a prospective student, contact the Admissions Office at 815-753-0446.

When I’m registering for online classes in MyNIU, I see the terms “synchronous” and “asynchronous.” What do these terms mean?

Synchronous online courses occur in real time and include activities such as live lectures or live conferencing. Synchronous courses are taught 100% online, but students will meet with the class at a set time each week via an online platform such as Blackboard Collaborate or Microsoft Teams. We’ve recently updated the MyNIU system, so when you register for a synchronous course in MyNIU, the system will indicate the course is online (100%) synchronous where the “room” is listed. You will also see course meeting times listed.

Asynchronous online courses occur through online channels without real-time interaction and include activities such as recorded lectures and self-guided lessons. Asynchronous courses are taught 100% online, but do not have an assigned meeting time for the course. Instead, you can view lectures or work on lessons within a flexible time period, set by your instructor. We’ve recently updated the MyNIU system, so when you register for an asynchronous course in MyNIU, it will indicate the course is online (100%) asynchronous where the “room” is listed. There will not be listed course meeting times.

Updated 9/4/20

When I’m registering for online classes in MyNIU, I notice that some courses are F2F with students meeting on staggered days. What does that mean?

In a small percentage of face-to-face (F2F) courses, classrooms cannot accommodate a full contingent of students at one time because of physical-distancing requirements. In those cases, students will either attend class or watch livestreamed events on a staggered and rotating schedule. For example, half of the students in a course might be in a physical classroom on Tuesdays, with the other half watching livestream; and vice versa on Thursdays. Faculty members will determine the staggered-attendance schedules for those classes and will communicate to the students prior to the start of classes.

Protective Measures

Will I have to wear a protective mask during face-to-face courses?

To help keep our community healthy, students and instructors will be required to wear protective face masks in class, including when they are speaking. Students are expected to supply and maintain their own face masks. We will provide each member of the faculty and staff with two washable face masks. Additionally, we plan to provide face shields to faculty who request them to support classroom lectures and discussion. Disposable face masks will be available in departmental offices for faculty members who wish to have some available in classrooms for emergency student use.

Bandanas and neck gaiters—made of thin, stretch tubes of fabric down the neck—aren’t effective for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and are not acceptable face coverings while on campus.  

Students who cannot wear face masks or other personal protective equipment because of a disability should proactively contact, or be referred to, the Disability Resource Center (DRC) prior to the start of the fall semester. The DRC will engage in an interactive process to determine any reasonable accommodations. Faculty can request to view the approved accommodation documentation that students receive from the DRC. More information about classroom protocols may be found on the Classrooms Safety Precautions page.

Support and Resources

I learn best face-to-face and most or all of my classes are online, what should I do?

Regardless of the course delivery method, we are committed to ensuring your success. We have developed a Keep Learning website that provides important information about campus resources that you can access at any time. For example, you’ll find online learning tips and online learning tools to help you stay engaged. Read more about assistance and remote learning resources you can turn to for support.

The Keep Learning website will be regularly updated as we receive additional questions. It not only includes important resources, but also contact information should you have technological issues. Remember to contact the Center for Student Assistance if you experience any issues that impact your success. If you need further assistance or you want to discuss your options, please contact your academic advisor.

If you’re unsure who your advisor is, this website will help you. Additionally, if you are undecided, you can call the Academic Advising Center at 815-753-2573 or email aac@niu.edu to find out who your advisor is. If you currently have a major, contact your department or college office. If you are a prospective student, contact the Admissions Office at 815-753-0446.

What if I'm struggling to reach my professor?

We're ready to help you. If you're having difficulty connecting with your professor, please contact your department chair. If you're not sure who is your department chair, please contact your academic adviser. For contact information for each advising office, see How to Register.

How do I get my textbooks, especially if I’m not on campus?

For detailed information, including other FAQs about textbooks, see our Textbooks and Course Materials Information for Students.

Textbooks can be ordered online at Huskie Books & Gear. You can shop for materials one of two ways. If you enter your student ID number, preceded by a zero, the list of materials needed for all your classes will populate. Simply add them to your shopping cart for purchase. You can also shop for materials by course.

If you have financial aid or a scholarship, you can use your OneCard ID at Huskie Books & Gear to charge the cost of your books and school supplies to your bursar account.

I don’t know how to get answers to my questions. Is there someone I can contact?

The Center for Student Assistance is available as a call-in service for students. The CSA helps students get connected to support for questions, such as those related to off-campus housing, food insecurity needs or legal matters. The CSA is available remotely at 815-753-8300 or via email at studentassistance@niu.edu. The center also has emergency food assistance available for registered students who are not on a campus meal plan.

Is NIU continuing to offer academic advising services during this time?

Yes. Until further notice, we are offering non-face-to-face advising opportunities. Your academic advisor will reach out to you to make arrangements that work for you. You can contact your advisor as well. Options could include the following:

  • Virtual video conferences.
  • Phone calls.
  • NIU emails.
  • IM chats.

To reduce barriers to registration, all registration holds will be temporarily removed. If you’re not sure who your advisor is, check MYNIU, or contact your advising office. For contact information for each advising office and any additional updates, see How to Register. 

Student Employment

Where are emails related to my student employment sent?

Emails notification are sent to your student employee email account. This is the account that was created when you because a student employee. It usually begins with a “A1” and ends with “@mail.niu.edu,” A123456@mail.niu.edu, for example. This account and email address is separate from your student Z-ID account. If you need assistance accessing your employee email account, contact the Division of Information Technology at ServiceDesk@niu.edu

International Students

Can I maintain my F-1 status?

Yes, if you are enrolled as a full-time student. The types and modalities of classes you take, or your location, do not impact your status.

I am staying outside the United States this semester. How do I receive a new I-20?
  • Even if you already completed the form under the earlier guidance from the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), you must email ifso@niu.edu with your full name, your SEVIS ID, your Z-ID and confirmation that you will remain outside the United States and enroll full time.
  • New I-20s will be created as part of the normal SEVIS registration process and should be ready in late September.
  • ISSS will provide additional processes and timelines at a later date.
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