Academic Planning for New Students
Skip to Sections:
- Section 1: Definitions: Who, What, When And Where
- Section 2: The First Two Years: Things You Need To Think About
- Section 3: Course Registration Advice
- Section 4: Further Academic Opportunities Not To Be Missed
- Section 5: Textbooks and Other Course Materials
- Section 6: Academic Skills And Support
Who Is My Adviser?
Your tutorial professor is your adviser until you declare a major (typically in your fourth semester). If you are a transfer student, and you have met the Tutorial requirement, you are assigned an adviser in the department in which you have expressed an interest. Your adviser is someone who will take an interest in you, listen to you as you share your personal goals, and help you plan a course of study.
Advisers will discourage you from:
- avoiding subject areas that may challenge your academic skills
- avoiding subject areas that may challenge your beliefs and values
- avoiding a subject of which you think you have a phobia
- picking classes at random with no relation to your interests and life goals
- taking only courses in which you're convinced you'll get an 'A'
- taking only courses in which you think that you'll be entertained by the professor
- having no principled guidelines for choosing classes
Advisers will encourage you to:
- take a balanced program in the liberal arts
- challenge yourself to try new things
- make friends
- get some sleep
What's My Role as an Advisee?
It is important that you be actively engaged in developing your academic plan with your adviser. Consider the things you most love to study as well as the things you find difficult. A broad liberal arts education involves developing your talents, and taking on challenges. Your adviser will expect you to prepare thoughtfully for meetings, to look at a range of courses, and to reflect on various options. This means doing some background research yourself.
Your adviser will not direct you to a prescribed set of courses. Rather, through a process of dialogue and negotiation, you and your adviser will decide together what you will take each semester. You have an adviser for a reason: to discuss ideas, to get advice, and to receive mentoring as you craft an individualized program of study in the liberal arts.
An important place to start is by completing the Advising Information Form. Your comments on the Advising Information Form will give your faculty adviser a sense of your academic background and interests prior to your first meeting together. Be sure to also complete the form this summer and return it to the Academic Advising Office. Our email address is advising[at]grinnell[dot]edu.
What Kinds of Questions Will I Address with My Adviser?
Think about these questions as you prepare to talk with your adviser in August:
- What academic subjects do you want to explore? Which might you explore first?
- What kinds of goals do you have — both immediate and long-term?
- How can you lay the groundwork and keep open several options for a major?
- What academic strengths do you feel you have?
- What personal or academic qualities — such as a disability — should your adviser know about?
- What academic weaknesses do you need to address?
- What areas of study are at Grinnell that you have never explored or considered?
- What does a liberal education look like for you?
Enter into conversations with your adviser about course planning with an open mind. You never know which class might change your life!
What Resources Do I Use to Choose Courses?
Your adviser is a primary resource for you as you make decisions about your comprehensive academic plan. In addition, the college offers many resources to assist you:
- Departmental Advising Information is an important section of this Academic planning guide. Read it carefully, as it will provide helpful instruction for each academic subject.
- The Online Schedule of Courses displays the courses (including catalog descriptions and prerequisite information) offered in a particular semester. The online schedule is searchable by subject, level, time of day, and instructor’s name. This service along with other registration resources is available via the Registrar's webpage.
- The Grinnell College Academic Catalog is the official listing of all courses offered at Grinnell College. Just click on "Academic Areas of Study" to find a list of courses by department. The Catalog does not tell you which courses are offered in which semesters; for that information you need to check the Online Schedule of Courses. The Catalog explains how Grinnell defines a liberal arts education - see the section on "Education in the Liberal Arts."
- The Academic Evaluation in PioneerWeb helps you check your progress toward a Grinnell degree. You should be able to access this feature shortly after July 1 from your PioneerWeb account, in the "Course Areas & Acad Info" section.
- The Student Handbook lists all of the academic policies you should be aware of, and is a terrific guide for future planning - including information about internships, off-campus study, and independent majors.
When Will I Register for Fall Classes?
During New Student Orientation — on August 20, 21, and 22 — you will have meetings with your faculty adviser. After discussing your academic goals and interests and planning your schedule with your faculty adviser, you'll submit your final registration on Tuesday, August 22. On Wednesday, August 23, you will have a chance to make changes to your schedule, if you desire.
How Will I Register for Fall Classes?
Although many colleges register new students in the summer before arrival, at Grinnell we place high value on in-person advising. Thus we wait until all of our new students (from Tulsa to Timbuktu!) are here on campus in the fall. Then, together with their adviser, each student completes his/her/hir course registration. Here is how it works.
ADVISING: New student advising happens Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, August 20–22, 2017. You will have time on at least two of these days to meet with your Tutorial instructor, who is your adviser, for consultation.
SUBMIT REGISTRATION CARD: You will be provided a registration card upon arrival to Grinnell. After you have met with your adviser, and your adviser has signed your card, bring the Registration Card and your New Student Arrival Confirmation form to the Registrar’s Office in the John Chrystal Center. The card must be turned in no later than 4 p.m., Tuesday, August 22. Any student who fails to submit a card by 4 p.m. will have to add classes when the drop/add process begins on Wednesday afternoon, August 23, 3 p.m., in the Harris Center.
YOUR COURSE SCHEDULE POSTED: As soon as registration is completed on Wednesday, August 23 at 2 p.m., your schedule will be released and viewable via your PioneerWeb account. Students are enrolled in classes based on a very equitable lottery method. If there are any errors, you should visit the Registrar’s Office immediately. Please know that as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday, all classes are under the direct control of instructors, and the instructor’s or department representative’s signature will be required to add a course (which you will be able to do at 3 p.m. that day).
POST-REGISTRATION FORUM: On Wednesday, August 23, at 3 p.m. faculty will be available in the Harris Center so that students can make adjustments to their schedule. The Course Change form — necessary to add or drop courses — will be available in Harris, in the Registrar’s Office, and online (on the “Course Areas & Acad Info” tab of PioneerWeb). The last day to add or drop a class will be Friday, September 8, but, realistically, students finalize their schedule within the first four class days.
ELIGIBILITY TO REGISTER: When you arrive on campus the Office of the Registrar will place an Arrival Confirmation form in your campus mailbox. The Arrival Confirmation form will list any holds that offices have placed on your ability to register for courses. Holds may be placed by the Cashier’s Office, Student Health and Counseling Services, Financial Aid Office, or the Office of the Registrar in circumstances where you have failed to address an outstanding requirement of that office (e.g., completing paperwork or providing payment). If your form indicates “none” on all lines, you do not need to do anything. However, if you have a hold, you should visit that office. Holds must be cleared before you will be allowed to register for classes. You should strive to not have holds on your registration upon arrival to campus, so communicate well with these offices this summer and it will streamline your registration process.