FAQ's for Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a list of frequently asked questions by students.

1. When can I declare my major? 

If you are a degree seeking student who is college-prepared upon being admitted to the university, you may declare your major when you apply to the university, at orientation, or anytime before you accumulate 60 credit hours by meeting with a professional academic advisor or department chairperson.  

For underprepared students admitted to University College or the Bridge to Success Program, you must complete all of your zero level coursework before declaring your major.

For College Credit Plus students, you are considered non-degree seeking students.  Therefore, you are unable to declare a major until you graduate from high school and become a degree seeking student.  However, you can still work toward a major and accumulate credits.  Speak to your professional academic advisor for more information about graduating with a degree.

2. Why is my major listed as General Studies?

Based on either your ACT English, reading, and math subscores or a placement test, you were identified as having one or more areas of academic underpreparedness.  As a result, your foundational knowledge in that academic area is not at the level required to be successful in a college-level course.  Therefore, you may be required to complete one or more courses to shore up your knowledge in those academic areas.

3. What are GEP courses?

GEP or General Education Program are courses which provide students with a breadth of information that make them well-rounded individuals.  As stated on the GEP page of the catalog, "The significance of a university degree is that the graduate possesses certain valuable and important characteristics that transcend any particular major or professional training. Shawnee State University’s General Education Program (GEP), which all graduates must complete, is designed to enhance the various major courses of study in order to ensure that every graduate is a well-educated person."

4. What is the Bridge to Success Program?

The Bridge to Success Program is a six-week intensive program who have been identified as being underprepared in 2 or more academic areas.  Please see #2 above for more information on what it means to be underprepared.  Students underprepared in 2 or more areas are required to pass the Bridge to Success Program before they can be fully accepted to Shawnee for the upcoming semester.  For more information, please visit the Bridge to Success Program web page.

5. What is the FYE class or First-Year Experience?

This one credit course is an 8-week experience designed to assist a student’s transition to Shawnee State University with a focus on financial literacy, the major selection and declaration process, and the development of career plans.  This course is designed specifically for students with 30 credit hours or less.

6. How do I declare my major or change my major?

If you did not declare your major as part of the application process or you want to change your major, you may meet with a professional academic advisor in the Student Success Center within the college that your major will be in.  The advisor can help you fill out the form that you take to the Student Business Center to file with the Registrar's Office.  Or you an make an appointment with the department chairperson for the major that you want to declare to fill out the form.

7. What does it mean to withdraw from a course?

To withdraw from or "drop" a course means that you are formally removing the course from your schedule and instead of a final grade in the course, you will receive a WD on your transcript.  There are several deadlines regarding withdrawing from a course.  If you withdraw before the first Friday of the spring or fall semester, then the course will be removed from your schedule and will not appear on your transcript.  This deadline is different for summer courses.  Any course dropped after this deadline will be listed as WD on your transcript.  Also, each semester there is a final date when you can withdraw from a course.  This date is different depending on if it is an 5 week, 8 week, 10 week, or 15 week course.  To check for withdraw deadlines, make sure to look at the list of Important Dates  each semester and take note of them.  Also, make sure you speak to your academic advisor and financial aid before withdrawing from a course as there are ramification for graduation and financial aid when you withdraw from a course.

8. What is an academic advisor?

An academic advisor is an integral part of your college success.  An advisor does more than help you decide what courses to take and when.  Your advisor is someone to coach you through coursework, transitioning to college, and navigating higher education.  Yes, your advisor helps you schedule your classes, but your advisor can also help you with goal setting, time management, study skills, and problems with coursework and life issues that may be keeping you from being successful in your courses.

The main goal of advising is your academic success, and your advisor is committed to that goal. However, you are responsible for your education. Your advisor is just that—an advisor; he or she is an important resource for your academic success, but you need to determine your goals and learn the requirements that must be met to achieve your goals.

9. When do I see a professional advisor in the Student Success Center vs. my faculty advisor?

An academic advisor or a professional advisor is someone whose primary job function is to advise students on course selections, majors, career planning, and academics.  Professional academic advisors regularly participate in training programs to keep informed about University policies and new programs.  All of Shawnee’s professional advisors belong to the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA), which sponsors research on the best advising practices and hosts national and regional meetings for advisors.  Many students receive an academic advisor if they are General Studies or undecided.  Once you have declared your major, you will receive a faculty advisor, but may still have an Academic Advisor as your secondary or back-up advisor.  You should see a professional advisor in the Student Success Center if you are struggling with your academics in any way, struggling with transitioning to college life and expectations, thinking of changing your major, unsure how to decipher financial aid and university policies, or just need to talk to someone and you're not sure where to turn.

A faculty is advisor is someone whose primary job function is to teach courses and conduct research; however, faculty advisors have an intimate knowledge of the majors and programs offered in their academic department.  In addition, faculty advisors often have valuable contacts in graduate schools and industry that can benefit their advisees and help the faculty advisor better advise the student in regards to their major and career options.  Faculty advisors are often able to provide students with recommendations to graduate schools and/or references for jobs.  See your faculty advisor to create your schedule and get clearance for the upcoming semester and discuss next steps after graduation regarding career and graduate school options.

10. How do I obtain a copy of my transcript?

You can access a copy of your unofficial transcript through MySSU or Aviso.  You can login to MySSU, go to the Student tab, click on Academic Information on the left hand side of the page, and then click on Unofficial Transcript in the middle part of the page.  Or, login to Aviso and click on transcript.  However, to have an official transcript sent to another college or university or to an employer, you should login to MySSU, click on the Student tab, and then click on SSU Official Transcript on left hand side of the page.  You may also visit the transcripts page on the Registrar's web page.

11.  What is the difference between an official and unofficial transcript?

An official transcript is sent directly from the Registrar's Office in a sealed envelop and with SSU's official markings.  Colleges, universities, and employers will ask for an official transcript so that they know it has not been tampered with.  An unofficial transcript is accessible by students, academic advisors, and faculty and while it should be an accurate record of your academic work, it is not an official document from the Registrar.

12. How do I contact my academic advisor?

If your advisor is in the Student Success Center, you can find their contact information on the Contact Us page of the Student Success Center or stop by the front desk of the SSC.  If you have a faculty advisor, then you need to visit that faculty member's academic department, visit the faculty member's office, or look the faculty member up in the SSU Directory.

13. How do I find out who is my advisor?

You can log into Aviso to see who your faculty advisor and/or success advisor are.  You can login to MySSU, go to the Student tab, click on Academic Information, and then click on academic information again.  Or visit the front desk of the Student Success Center.

14. What do I do if I do not have an advisor?

If you have declared your major, you should visit the academic department of your major.  Or you can visit the front desk of the Student Success Center for more help.

15. How do I find my grades?

You may find your grades listed on MySSU by clicking on the Student tab, then Academic Information, and then Grade Report.  You can also login to Aviso and click on the transcript tab.  Check the Important Dates  for the semester to see when midterm and final grades are available to students.   

16.  Why don't I get a letter grade at midterm and what do the midterm grades mean?

Midterm "grades" are more like a progress check-in for students so that they can get a sense of where they are in the course.   

SA Satisfactory Progress - likely to pass
UN1 Unsatisfactory Progress - poor performance; likely to fail; GOOD attendance (attendance rate between 90-100%)
UN3 Unsatisfactory Progress - poor performance; likely to fail; FAIR attendance (attendance rate between 70-90%)
UN5 Unsatisfactory Progress - poor performance; likely to fail; POOR attendance (attendance rate less than 70%)
UN7 Unsatisfactory Progress - poor performance; likely to fail; you do not take attendance

Be aware that each faculty member interprets satisfactory in different ways.  One faculty may interpret passing as a C or higher and another may consider passing a D- or higher, so be sure to get clarification of your individual instructor's interpretation of what is satisfactory and what is not. 

17. What do I do if I receive one or more unsatisfactories at midterm?

  1. Speak to your instructors for the courses that you received an unsatisfactory for.  Your instructor will be your best resource for how to turn your grade around.
  2. Speak to an academic advisor in the Student Success Center for tips and resources as well as what are your options going forward.
  3. Seek tutoring through the Writing Center, Math Lab, Chemistry Study Center, or the Student Success Center.

18. How do I get a tutor?

If you need help writing a paper for any subject, seek help at the Writing Center in room 120 in the basement of Clark Memorial Library.  If you need help with math, go to the Math Lab in Administration Building room 150.  For other subjects, please fill out the Request a Tutor  form on the home page of MySSU.

19. How can I find out specific information about a course?

You may find course descriptions in the online course catalog

20. What is the "catalog"?

The catalog contains the university and academic policies, course descriptions, and degree requirements for specific academic years.   The academic year you become a student at SSU is the catalog you will follow for your degree requirements and all relevant policies included in that academic year.  For example, if you enter the university as a freshman during the 2015-2016 academic year, that is the catalog you will follow until you graduate.  However, anytime you change or declare your major, your catalog changes.  Therefore, if you enter the university in the 2015-2016 academic year and you change your major during the 2016-2017 academic year, then your catalog changes.  This usually is not a big issue unless major changes are made to your degree requirements, which may add to your graduation timeline.  However, you can petition to change catalog if it is to your advantage by obtaining a form from the Student Business Center.  Also, if you leave the university for a significant number of semesters or years, it may be to your advantage to change to a more recent catalog than the one that you entered the university under.

Student Success Center

Contact Information

Shawnee State University
Student Success Center
Massie Hall, 1st Floor
940 Second Street
Portsmouth, OH 45662

(740) 351-3594

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