New Student Guide

Welcome to the new student guide to academic registration. Here we’ll provide some advice about the curriculum you’ll engage in here at UMW. Use these pages to help you as you complete your First Semester Schedule Questionnaire.

Before we get to the curriculum matters, let’s touch on a few of the other issues addressed in the questionnaire.  Be certain to indicate academic interests, transfer credit (including AP and IB scores), and any activities/special programs that interest you. These items all affect your schedule, so the information will be useful.

You should give some consideration to Living Learning Communities. At UMW, Living Learning Communities (LLCs) offer an exciting and rewarding blend of academics and student life.  Students in LLCs immerse themselves in an environment with like-minded individuals by taking at least one class together and living in a setting that offers out-of-classroom experiences facilitated by an upperclass program assistant. The out-of-classroom activities may include volunteer work,  excursions, and meetings with experts in related fields, and they encourage students to learn alongside faculty. LLCs at UMW offer a truly unique opportunity for academic engagement that you don’t want to miss. Residence Life host a page about the Living Learning Communities where you can get the details on the different LLCs. If you see one that piques your interest, be certain to mark it on your questionnaire.

Now let’s move on to the curriculum matters.  It is useful to think of your degree program as a three-legged stool, with the three areas:

  • Major Program,
  • General Education , and
  • Electives3LeggedStool

each playing a vital role.  We’ll go through each of these broad areas individually.  Once you have your questionnaire completed, staff in the Office of Academic & Career Services will preregister you in a few classes to help get you started toward your first semester schedule. Then, at orientation, you’ll be able to adjust and complete your schedule while working one-on-one with a member of our staff and some faculty.  I hope you are as excited about this as we are!

First, many of you will have ideas on what you’d like to major in.  A major is a collection of specialized courses in a single discipline (or a small collection of disciplines) which will give you deep knowledge in a subject. You can view a complete list of majors offered here at UMW by following that link which takes you over to the Undergraduate Academic Catalog site.

It will be very useful for you to get some advice early in your academic career from the chair of the department hosting your prospective major.  To get some of that useful advice, click on your prospective major below.  A printable document will open up for you.  You can use this as you complete the First Semester Schedule Questionnaire, and feel free to print it to bring along to orientation.

American Studies Anthropology Art History Studio Art
Biology Business Administration Chemistry Classics: Classical Archaeology
Classics: Classical Civilization Classics: Latin Computer Science; Computer Information Systems Computer Science
Economics English Environmental Science French
Geography Geology German Historic Preservation
History Interdisciplinary Science Studies International Affairs Mathematics
Music Philosophy Philosophy: Pre-Law Physics
Political Science Psychology Religion Sociology
Spanish Theatre Women’s and Gender Studies

academicsOf course, many of you will have almost no idea what you want to major in. That’s perfectly fine! In fact, “undecided” is the most popular “major.” Yeah, I know, it’s not a major. But it’s still the most popular. If you’re completely undecided about a major, here’s some advice to help you complete the questionnaire.

Another hot area of interest for new students is our variety of programs leading to teacher licensure. You can read advice about planning your course schedule as a prospective teacher licensure candidate by following the link to Education Programs at UMW. Additional information provided by UMW’s College of Education describes the many programs available for future teachers.

As you work through your new First Semester Schedule Questionnaire,  you will also be asked about your interests in the various General Education categories. This is the second leg of our stool. Every student will need to take courses in several general education areas and this broad spectrum of courses will help round out your liberal arts education. To start weeding through the General Education categories and getting some advice go to Navigating General Education. We’ll walk you through the various categories and give you some advice as you complete this portion of the questionnaire. Once you finish that portion of your questionnaire, you’re done for now (until you come for orientation). But you may still be wondering about the last leg of our stool.  If so, read on…

The last leg of our stool constitutes “electives.” So, what is an elective? Here’s the bottom line: elective courses constitute the remaining credits required to complete the minimum 120 credits for your degree after your General Education Requirements and Major Requirements have been completed. So, any course can be used as an elective. For many students, this will be a significant number of courses. For instance, a Sociology major may complete the major requirements with about 30 credits. General Education could potentially be completed with only 30-40 more credits. That means that the student will still need as many as 60 credits worth of elective courses in order to reach the 120 credits necessary for graduation. This could mean a lot of options for you!  For example, you could use your elective courses to pursue any combination of the following:

  • Complete a Minor – here’s a complete list of minors to peruse
  • Prepare yourself for graduate study or professional school by taking additional courses in your field of interest
  • Fulfill state or national requirements for a profession (i.e., Education)
  • Satisfy your own interests, talents and general ambition to learn more about an academic area or the world in which you live
  • Complete a double Major (keep in mind that completion of a double major may require additional credits)

And that does it! We hope that you have found some of the information here helpful to you. If you have questions or concerns, the staff in the Office of Academic & Career Services is here to help. Give us a call at 540-654-1010 and we’ll be happy to assist you. We look forward to seeing you at orientation this summer!