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Advising FAQ

1. How are AP credits counted?

To receive credit/placement at Dickinson for your Advanced Placement scores, you will need to have an official copy of your scores sent to the Registrar's Office. To know how AP credits are counted for the various courses at Dickinson, visit the Registrar’s webpage.

2. How do transfers receive credit and class standing?

Previous academic work will be evaluated for credit, provided the coursework has been satisfactorily completed with a grade of C or better in a program of study that reasonably parallels the curriculum of Dickinson College. The Registrar will provide the credit evaluation upon receipt of the final transcript. Class standing is determined by the completion of a required number of credits. One becomes a sophomore when 7 courses creditable toward graduation are completed. Sophomores attain junior status after 15 courses and juniors become seniors after 23 courses.

All students need 32 credits to graduate, 16 of which must be earned at Dickinson.

3. Are there different ways to meet the language requirement?

All students are required to meet the foreign language requirement for their Dickinson degree. Students can meet the language requirement in different ways.
First, if a student is a non-native English speaker, he or she may be exempted from the language requirement. 

Second, students may be exempted from the language requirement by taking a placement exam when they arrive on campus in the fall or by contacting the appropriate language department.

Finally, if a student has studied a foreign language for two or more years in a secondary school, the student may be exempted from the language requirement by scoring 630 or higher on the College Board SAT II foreign language subject test, with the permission of the appropriate language department.

4. What are distribution requirements?

Distribution requirements are courses that every Dickinson student needs to complete in order to graduate. Distribution requirements are designed to introduce students to three major disciplines of learning (arts and humanities, social sciences, and laboratory sciences. and are classified as Division I, II, and III respectively. In addition to the Division I, II, and III requirements, each student must take a First-Year Seminar, a Writing Intensive course, a Quantitative Reasoning course, a US Diversity course, and a Global Diversity course. Students must also complete a second language through the intermediate level.

5. How do I know what course fulfills each requirement?

When you search for classes using Banner, the rightmost column will be titled “Attribute.” This normally will list all the requirements each class fulfills. However, if you selected a specific requirement or attribute in your class search, then the classes’ other attributes will not appear (for example: if you search specifically for classes fulfilling the Division Ic requirement, you will not be able to see if any of these classes also fulfill the US Diversity requirement.. To see all the class’s attributes, you can click on the course’s CRN (the second column from the left. and they will be listed above the instructor name.

6. Can a course that is listed as fulfilling multiple distribution requirements count for all those listed?

Some courses may fulfill more than one distribution requirement at a time. This is permissible in all instances except for courses that are listed as both Division III (Labratory Science) and QR. If a course is listed as both, you must contact the Registrar and inform them which requirement you would like the class to meet. Otherwise, it will be selected for you. Please note: Intermediate language courses do not fulfill any other general or distribution requirements.

7. How do I get involved in the Pre-Health or Pre-Law advising programs here at Dickinson?

Students interested in the Pre-Professional Advising programs at Dickinson should seek the advice of their academic advisor and other faculty, as well as contact the Advising, Internships & Career Center. Students interested in the Pre-Health program should contact the Pre-Health Committee Chair as soon as possible, and will be assigned a member of the committee as their advisor. Students interested in the Pre-Law advising program should also contact the Pre-Law Committee Chair and the Advising, Internships & Career Center. For more information consult the Academic Bulletin.

8. I know/think I may have a learning disability/medical condition/physical/mental health impairment that impacts my academic experience. Whom should I contact?

Dean Marni Jones is the Director of both Access and Disability Services (ADS) and the center for Strategies, Organization and Achievement Resources (SOAR), located on Old West's lower level. The web pages for both offices will provide you with Learning and Study Skills Strategies and Resources, as well as detailed information about the process of disclosing a disability, providing documentation, and receiving accommodations related to Access and Disability Services. To make an appointment, please call the Access Coordinator for ADS and SOAR at 717-245-1734. Documentation for substantiating a disability should be emailed to

9. During the course request period, how are students assigned to classes?

After the course request period ends, the computer program registers students for classes. If more students requested a class than there are seats in the class, the computer organizes the students in groups by their priority for the class. For instance, many introductory science classes give first-year students top priority and higher level classes give priority to majors. To view priorities for specific classes, click on “Priorities and Enrollment Information” either from the course selection menu on Banner or from course information by semester on the registrar’s site. If you are not in one of the priorities listed you are in the lowest priority for that class. The computer fills the class first from students in the first priority, then the second and so on. When there are fewer seats left than students in a particular priority group, the computer randomly selects students from that group to fill the class. For classes with no priorities listed, the computer randomly chooses students to fill the class from among all the students that requested it.

10. How long is add/drop? What about for language classes?

Add/drop period lasts through the first Friday after the beginning of the semester. Beyond this date, students who wish to make changes to their schedules must make their request by petitioning the Committee on Academic Standards. Guidelines for petitioning can be found on the Advising website. Students who find themselves at an inappropriate level in language classes are allowed to shift from one level to another until the posted deadline date (listed on the Academic Calendar).

11. How do I request a 5th course?

A normal load for a semester is 4 courses. After successfully completing his or her first semester, a student may take a semester load of five course credits twice during their Dickinson career. You will need to complete the appropriate form available in the Registrar’s Office or on their webpage. This 5th course cannot be added until the add/drop period at the beginning of the semester. And most importantly, once this form is submitted to the Registrar’s Office, it is officially on your record as one of the two semesters permitted and cannot be revoked.

12. How do I change a course to pass/fail?

You will need to complete the Pass/Fail Permission Form in the Registrar’s Office or from their webpage and submit it to the Registrar’s Office no later than the last day of add/drop.

13. How do I audit a course?

You will need to complete the Audit Permission Form in the *Registrar’s Office* or from their webpage and submit it to the Registrar’s Office no later than the last day of add/drop. This form can be submitted any time, but you will not be registered for the audit until the day after add/drop (remember – it’s added after add/drop because auditors cannot take a seat away from a credit-earning student..

14. What is a program evaluation (degree audit)? Why should I use this feature?

The degree audit is a very useful tool. If you have not yet declared a major, and are unsure of what you wish to declare, the degree audit will tell you how the classes you have taken so far (including those you are currently enrolled in. at Dickinson fulfill your distribution requirements necessary for graduation. The degree audit tells you which distribution requirements remain to be completed and thus can aid you in planning and scheduling for upcoming semesters. If you have declared a major or know what you wish to declare, the Degree Audit reviews the courses you have taken or are enrolled in and how they apply in helping you fulfill your major requirements. It will also list the courses that you still need to take in order to graduate with a degree in a specific major.

Using Banner, you can view your evaluation in terms of what major(s. you have currently declared (“Generate New Evaluation”. or what major(s. you might like to declare (“What-If Analysis”.. By showing you what requirements you have left to complete, the degree evaluation can help you choose more wisely what courses to take.

15. Where can I locate my student ID#?

Your student ID# (begins with a “9”. is on your student ID card on the front beneath your name and on the back above the barcode. In addition, you can find it using Banner in many different ways. It will appear to the left of your name when you access most non-menu pages. For instance, you can go to Student and Financial Aid, then to Student Records, then to Student Information and it will be in the upper right hand corner to the left of your name.

16. What is roll call? Why do we have it? What should I do if I have a U grade?

Dickinson College utilizes Roll Call as an opportunity to inform students of their academic progress mid-way through a semester. At mid-semester (Roll Call., the following grades are reported by faculty for all students:

S - Satisfactory achievement (work of "C" quality or above).
U - Unsatisfactory achievement (work of "C-" or below).
I - Incomplete - work outstanding
NE - No Evaluation made by faculty member

Be sure to check your Roll Call grades via Banner Self-Service.

The big question: What do I do if I have a U grade?

Stop by Biddle House and meet with a Peer Academic Advisor to get prepared for an appointment with your course professor. Peer Academic Advisors are available Monday-Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. When you talk to the course professor; ask about the basis for the grade, whether late work may still be submitted (even if for a zero grade., and clarify due dates for work yet to be submitted.

17. When are my grades mailed home?

Grades are not sent home. They can be viewed in Banner which is accessed through Gateway after the professor submission deadline. In some cases, some of the grades may appear sooner than others, indicating that those professors have submitted their grades while others have not.

18. Can I get a grade lower than a C in courses for my major?

Yes. Unlike some colleges, at Dickinson, as long as you pass a course, it can still count toward your major requirements. That said, you should generally choose a major based on what you both like and are good at. So if you are struggling in a number of your major classes, you might want to reconsider your choice of major. In addition, remember that although your grades for individual classes may be lower than a C and still count for credit, your overall GPA may not fall below a certain threshold (1.75 for First-Years and 2.00 for everyone else). Having a GPA lower than this threshold will place you on academic probation or require you to withdraw from the college

19. What is academic probation? Why would I be placed on it, and what happens when I am on academic probation? What is a required withdrawal?

The minimum grade point average for a first-year student to be in good academic standing is 1.75. At the end of the first semester of college, students falling below 1.75 will either be withdrawn from the college or placed on academic probation for the following semester based on the decision of the Academic Standards Committee.

First-year students will be required to complete the Steps to Academic Success program during the spring semester. At the end of the second semester of the first year, students with a cumulative grade point average below 1.75 will be required to withdraw. Sophomores must achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.00.

Sophomores who have below a 2.00 at the end of the first semester of the sophomore year will be placed on academic probation for the second semester and required to complete the Steps to Academic Success Program. Sophomores whose cumulative grade point average falls below a 2.00 at the end of the sophomore year will be required to withdraw.

Juniors and seniors must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.00 to remain in good academic standing. Juniors and seniors with a cumulative grade point average below 2.00 will be required to withdraw from the college. In order to graduate, a senior must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.00.

20. How do I change my advisor?

Normally, a first-year student stays with their Advisor/ Seminar Instructor until they are ready to declare a major. At that time the Major Declaration Form is completed including selecting a faculty advisor in the major. If you want to change advisors before declaring your major, you may ask another faculty member to serve as your advisor until you are ready to declare a major. You will have to fill out a “Change of Advisor” form, and have it signed by your former advisor and the individual agreeing to serve as your advisor.

21. How do I select a major? Once I have selected a major, how do I declare it and by when should I have declared?

In order to declare a major, students are required to fill out the Major Declaration form, obtainable from the Registrar’s Office and on the Registrar’s Office website. The form also requires that the student obtain the signatures of the Department Chairperson, the Major Advisor and their former Advisor. Students do not have to declare a major until the end of the second semester of their sophomore year.

22. Do I need to declare a minor? How do I do that?

Declaring a minor is not necessary, except in programs that do not have majors. Those programs are: astronomy, creative writing, film studies, and Italian. To declare the minor you must fill out the appropriate form in the Registrar’s Office and make your intentions known to the chair of that program. For minors in other programs you must take the required courses for the minor and then notify the Registrar’s Office in your senior year.

23. Can sophomores go abroad?

It is not customary for sophomores to study abroad. In a few instances, however, a sophomore may be able to participate in a study abroad program. Other options for sophomores who would like to do alterative study through Dickinson include a summer immersion program, Crossing Borders or one of the Mosaic programs. Check with your advisor for more information.

24. Can seniors go abroad?

Seniors must take six of their last eight (or their last four. courses on Dickinson’s campus. Exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Academic Standards Committee. Therefore, seniors may go abroad during their first semester as long as they complete four courses at Dickinson in their second semester before graduating.

25. What happens with credits taken at another institution while I’m abroad? Do they count towards my GPA? What about summer school credits at another college or university?

Credits taken abroad need to be pre-approved through Global Education and the department chairs in the subject matter you are going to be studying. If the program you are enrolled in is a Dickinson program, you will be told before you go if your grades will count toward your GPA. If you are going through an affiliate program, your grades will not figure into your GPA, but you will still receive credit towards graduation for courses that have been passed. Study abroad grades will appear on your transcript.

Summer school credits should be pre-approved by the corresponding Dickinson departments of the course you are taking if you are taking the courses to fulfill core requirements or courses for your major. For general credit you must seek approval from the Registrar’s office. The grades for summer courses at another college or university will appear on your transcript as with study abroad courses but are not factored into your GPA. You must earn a C in each course for the credit to transfer.