College Expectations

Attendance Policies

Go to class! Some professors do not monitor attendance; go to class anyway because you want to learn what is being covered. In college, your learning is your responsibility. If you don’t attend class, you’re still responsible for knowing the material covered in class.

How much time should I plan to study a week?

This is a tricky question because the types of classes you take and the academic rigor of those classes determines the amount of work you do. That lower-level English course might not take as much time as a calculus course, or it may require as much or more time to do all the reading, research, and writing. Tracking the number of hours you spend studying for each class each week helps you determine how much time to set aside for study.

One common recommendation is to study two to three hours out of class for every hour in class. If you are enrolled in 15 credits, plan on 30-45 hours of work out of class each week—about the equivalent of a full-time job. Actual study is variable for individual classes, but this formula captures a basic truth: college is structured so that you’re learning a lot more outside of class meetings than during class time. Class time is there to give the material structure and to give you face time with an expert—your professor.

First, meet with your professor during the office hours on your course syllabus. You can always ask your professor for clarification on course material or about your progress in a course (though he or she may not be able to give you a letter grade). Even if you have difficulty framing your question, you should still visit with your professors. Discussing your concerns will help you clarify them. Be prepared with questions, but don’t confuse office hours with lecture. If you’ve missed class, be sure you catch up with the reading and get notes from a classmate before you ask your professor about the material you missed.
Use standard grammar, spelling and punctuation when typing emails and other written communications. Using text abbreviations is inappropriate in the university environment, professors and campus offices will generally respond better if you use standard written English in your correspondence. As a matter of protocol you should address your professors by their title (Professor or Doctor) unless and until they tell you otherwise. Remember that your professors have worked many years to earn these titles, and you are at the beginning of a road they have been traveling for a long time. Give them the respect they have earned.
Truman’s faculty members are here to help you, and most enjoy spending time one-on-one with students. Make it your goal to get to know at least one faculty member outside the classroom every semester. Drop in during office hours or just after class and introduce yourself. Attend departmental events like visiting speakers or conferences. As you move beyond Truman, you are going to want to ask faculty to serve as references for jobs and to write letters of recommendation. A network of faculty support is invaluable.
Degree Works is a program accessible through TruView that will help you keep track of the courses you have taken and those you will need to take to finish your degree. You can set up a 4 year/graduation plan with Degree Works that you can follow to ensure that you finish on time. Your academic advisor is available to help you develop your plan and give you guidance about when you might do internships or study abroad.
Where do I go and who do I talk to?

Here’s a PDF that outlines the whole process.

We recommend you start planning to study abroad as soon as you arrive on campus. Research your options at the Study Abroad Office’s website and consider destinations suitable to your major, language ability, and cultural interests. Visit the Study Abroad office to get specific program information. Schedule an appointment with your advisor to discuss options, and talk to the Financial Aid Office for funding specifics.

When is the best time to study abroad?

Study abroad is not recommended during your freshman year, and seniors are often involved in research projects, internships, and career planning. The sophomore and junior years are most popular for study abroad. If you choose a program early, your advisor can help you decide when the best time would be to be away from campus.

The Liberal Arts Portfolio, a graduation requirement for all students, is a chance for you to showcase your best work while at Truman and to reflect on your time here. It consists of a set of explanations, reflections, and artifacts (papers, assignments, projects, artwork, recordings, video recordings, and other concrete records) that students are asked to complete during their time at Truman. The compilation and reflection of the portfolio is done as part of the senior capstone experience administered by each major program – most students complete the portfolio as part of their senior seminar or capstone experience. Details are available here.

Here are a few tips to get you off to a good start in your online course.  Online courses require a little extra: extra organization, extra time management, and extra patience.  If you are lacking in any of these areas, this is a good opportunity to grow.

  1. Get your hands on a folder and a notebook you can dedicate to this course.  You will still need to take notes and writing is still a thinking tool.  Good note-taking during your reading will help you retain information for exams and serve as a good reference when posting to discussion boards.
  2. Print out the syllabus and any other important course information.  Read it, annotate it, and put it in your folder for handy reference.  Make sure you have a hard copy of contact information in case the internet goes down (storms happen).  Also have a back-up location to work, just in case (most coffee shops and restaurants have free Wi-Fi).
  3. Keep a calendar with all due dates and drop deadlines.
  4. Familiarize yourself with Blackboard (or other course shell).  Does it function properly with your computer?  Can you navigate easily and find all of the information you need?  Utilize any resources your professor has provided (lectures, tutorials, etc.) and do read the extra readings and always do “optional” homework.
  5. Log into your course MORE THAN the required minimum and participate.  Be present in the class—get to know the other students.  Let them get to know you.  If your professor hasn’t specifically assigned you to introduce yourself, introduce yourself to your professor and/or the class (depending on the format).  Be a real person!
  6. When posting assignments and participating in discussions, remember the following: Proofread before you post.  Check not just the content of what you are writing, but check your tone (go for thoughtful and respectful).  Check your punctuation.  This is a written forum, so spelling and punctuation count.
  7. Communicate.  If you have a question, ask.  (Know how your professor prefers to receive questions and know how to contact the HELP desk.)  Share any problems or confusion with your professor or HELP desk right away.  Also, if you will be travelling during the course, let your professor know the dates, just in case you run into a problem with Wi-Fi access.
  8. BE PATIENT.  Just because you are online doesn’t mean your professor or classmates are, too.  Discussions don’t always happen in real time and professors aren’t always able to respond right away. (That’s the beauty of an online course—we can each fit it in around other commitments.)
  9. Create a routine.  Try to log into your class at the same time each day to check announcements, contribute to discussions, and post assignments.  Having a routine will help you immensely.  Procrastination in an online course has even worse consequences than in the brick and mortar world.  (Post early to avoid technical “emergencies.”)
  10. Create a study group or buddy system with other students taking an online course.  You can motivate and encourage each other while creating some structure to what can feel too unstructured.  Good luck!

Registering for Classes

It’s actually quite easy. Check out this video for a full explanation!
It just so happens that we’ve got a handy video to walk you through it. Here’s the scoop.

Transferring Credit

Yes. You must forward your transcripts from any colleges or universities, or credit-bearing exams (like AP, IB or CLEP) you’ve earned credit from in the past. Failing to do so constitutes academic dishonesty.

No. The University records both your Institutional GPA (Truman courses only) and your overall GPA (all graded college-level courses). Your scholarship renewal GPA is based only on your Institutional GPA, though potential employers and graduate schools have access to both.

If you’re passing at least 15 credits per semester, you probably don’t need to take summer classes in order to graduate in a timely fashion. However, summer classes are a good way to catch up if you’re behind on hours or need to focus your attention on difficult courses. Before signing up, be aware that summer courses usually cover material at least twice as rapidly as full-semester courses, and that summertime brings its own set of distractions—work, friends, vacations, etc.

You’ll register for summer classes at Truman through TruView, following the same steps that you follow for fall or spring courses. When your advisor clears you for fall registration, you’ll be cleared for summer as well. Summer registration dates generally precede the fall registration dates by about a week.

Registration for summer courses at community colleges and other universities generally occurs in March or April. You’ll also need to take the necessary steps to be admitted to another school before you can register for classes.

Start by checking, a database of all the classes students have transferred in in the past.

The Registrar’s Office can pre-approve any course you’re planning on taking, so you’ll know beforehand exactly what Truman’s equivalent is. Pre-approval can take up to four weeks, so it’s best to plan ahead. You must take the last 28 credits before graduation at Truman.

Failing, Dropping, Withdrawing, and Credit/No Credit

Most instructors give you the information you need to keep track of your grade. Make sure you understand how the grade is calculated by re-reading the syllabus. Then you should be able to plug in the grades that have been returned. See if your professor keeps an online grade book (like on Blackboard). If you have used all of the available resources to figure out your grade but you still have questions, it’s time to talk to your instructor about it. Make an appointment or go in during office hours and explain the specific issues that are confusing you. Your academic advisor can also be helpful when you’re trying to understand grading practices (grade curves, weighted grades, and so forth).

Many students fail to make the distinction between the terms pass/fail and credit/no credit. Pass/fail is a category of course, such as Truman Week and INDV 150 Dinner and a Book, in which students can only earn a P or F. Credit/no credit is a grading option that you can choose.

You can change a course from the standard A to F grading scheme to the credit/no credit grading option by filling out a form available from the registrar (MC 104). The credit/no credit option was created to give students a low-risk way to take courses that interest them outside their major and LSP requirements, and the option doesn’t work well for any other purpose. If you change a course to credit/no credit it becomes a free elective, so it can’t be used to fulfill most LSP or major requirements. You also can’t repeat the course if you take it using the credit/no credit option. It’s important to talk to your advisor about any course you’re thinking about taking credit/no credit so that you avoid common pitfalls. For instance, it’s possible to lock yourself out of a major by taking a requirement credit/no credit. Find out more about grade policies in the Academic Policies and Procedures section of the online catalog.

The most important thing to do is to discuss the situation with your instructor and your advisor. Is the course salvageable? What would be required for you to pass? If it looks like you would have to ace the rest of the semester to earn a satisfactory grade, you should be realistic and admit that you are unlikely to be able to turn the course around. If it’s prior to the drop deadline, it’s almost always better to drop the course than to ride it out, since a dropped course will not affect your grade point average (but see below about withdrawing after the final drop deadline). You can repeat the course if you get an F, but the F will still figure into your GPA. There is no dishonor in dropping a class, and there is no particular virtue in embracing failure when you have other options.

Changing a course to credit/no credit when you’re doing poorly can create unforeseen problems and is not recommended. Credit/no credit makes a poor escape route because it was never meant for that purpose (see above).

You can find the deadlines for dropping here, on the Registrar’s website.

After the final drop deadline, ten weeks into the semester for full-semester courses, you can’t drop just one course using TruView. You can, however, withdraw from the entire semester or write a letter of appeal to the Academic Standards Committee asking to be allowed to drop the course after the drop date. You can find information about the Academic Standards Committee and the appeal process here.

You can drop a course using the “Register for classes or change my schedule” function on the Student tab on TruView. You can withdraw from school using the “Withdraw from all courses for a selected semester” option, also on your Student tab. In either case, you will receive W grades in the affected courses if it is between the fourth and tenth weeks of class. You can withdraw from all courses until the last day of classes, but after the tenth week your instructors will be able to assign you either a W or a WF for the course. WF figures into your GPA as an F.

If your withdrawal from all classes is due to a documented health issue, you may appeal to the Academic Standards Committee for a medical withdrawal. If your appeal is approved, each of your grades for that semester will be changed to W.

Check out this handy PDF for all your W-related needs.

Two or three W’s on your transcript won’t hurt you, especially early in your college career—everyone experiences growing pains, and W’s will definitely look better than D’s and F’s. Graduate schools want candidates who can complete a rigorous program and pursue an independent research agenda, which includes knowing when to cut your losses and change course. You should beware of taking W’s every semester, however, because it gives the impression that you bite off more than you can chew and you don’t learn from past mistakes. Remember that you have the first four weeks of the semester to drop a course before the W becomes a possibility. Track your progress carefully over those weeks and if you must drop, do it before the W deadline.

An incomplete is appropriate in the case of a late-breaking emergency–like an illness or other unforeseen obstacle–that prevents you from completing the work for a course in which you are doing well.

You can only take an incomplete in a course with the approval of your instructor and their department chair. Fill out an Incomplete Agreement Form, available from your department office. On this form you and the instructor will specify a final deadline for the coursework and the grade that will be recorded if you don’t complete the work by this date. While an incomplete in a class does not affect your GPA for that semester, it also does not count as completed credit hours. It will not defer decisions based on your completed credit hours, like your scholarship eligibility and your probation status. It’s almost always better to finish the course within the regular semester than to take an incomplete, because an incomplete tends to multiply your work the next semester.

You can repeat any course (except one you’ve taken as credit/no credit), but the grade for each attempt will be averaged into your GPA—the later or higher grade will not replace the earlier or lower grade. Courses taken as credit/no credit cannot be repeated. If different attempts are worth different credit hours, you will receive the credit hours only for the highest credit attempt. For example, if you earn a D (1.0) in a five-credit French class at another university and retake the course at Truman, earning an A (4.0) in the three-credit equivalent course, you would end up with five credits of B/C (2.5) factored into your GPA. If your original grade was a passing grade, you must see the registrar for an override and you may need to wait until the end of a registration period to enroll. Talk to your advisor for details.

It depends on how many credits the class was worth, how you’re doing in your other classes, and your previous GPA. Here’s a detailed explanation of the calculation, and you can also talk to your advisor or use the Term GPA Calculator on Degree Works to see how different grades in your current classes will affect your GPA.

The skills you use daily in university classrooms are different, because in college the burden of ensuring that your education is happening day to day shifts onto your shoulders. It is important to learn how to be a better college student, finding ways to work smarter, not necessarily harder. Start by talking with your professor about your difficulties. Be as specific as you can. Most professors are open to discussing strategies for success and course content. Ask your professor what academic resources are available for the course. You can also speak with your advisor about academic support.

Contact the Student Tutoring Center within the Center for Academic Excellence in the Kirk Building at (660) 785-4117 or to set up an appointment for tutoring, a study skills consultation, or information about academic workshops. The Tutoring Center employs nearly 70 tutors and has academic support for the majority of departments on campus.

INDV courses are another good way to expose yourself to skills and strategies that promote academic success at Truman. Talk to your advisor about the opportunities available or check the catalog for information on the courses offered by the Center for Academic Excellence.

Probation and Suspension

If your semester GPA is below 2.00, you are placed on academic probation. Once you are on academic probation, if you again earn a semester GPA below 2.00, you will be suspended from the University.

Probation is meant to encourage you to make the behavior changes necessary to succeed at Truman. Success includes, at minimum, a cumulative GPA of 2.0. If your GPA is consistently lower than that, you will not be able to graduate.

Academic probation is disappointing, but it’s also an opportunity to examine your behaviors and priorities. Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • Was academic success a high priority for me, or did it take a backseat to other activities?
  • How often did I miss class? How much of the required reading and homework did I do?
  • How often did I leave assignments until the last minute, producing low-quality work?
  • How often did I sit down in front of a quiz or test and feel well-prepared to answer all the questions?
  • Where and when did I study? Did I spend a lot of time sitting around with a textbook on my lap socializing, rather than studying?
  • Did personal issues (roommate conflicts, family demands, work) get in the way of academics? What can I do to prevent this from recurring?
  • Am I in the right major? Did I enjoy the material in my classes?

If you go on academic probation during your first year at Truman, you are strongly encouraged to meet regularly with your academic advisor. The students who turn their academic performance around are those who are willing to seriously examine and change their behaviors.

If you’ve been suspended, the earliest you may apply for reinstatement is one semester following your suspension. Students who are suspended typically enroll at another college or university and use good grades (As and Bs) obtained there as evidence of their ability to succeed at Truman. However, reinstatement is not guaranteed. You may appeal suspension through the Academic Standards Committee. For details about this process, please talk with your Academic Advisor.

For official catalog information about Academic Probation and Suspension, see Academic Policies and Procedures.

Pre-Law, Pre-Med

Although Truman offers pre-med patterns in biology, chemistry, health and exercise science, any student in any major can consider a career in medicine. Courses required for consideration to medical school include two semesters of General Biology with lab (BIOL 107 and BIOL 108), two semesters of General Chemistry with lab (CHEM 130 and CHEM 131), two semesters of Organic Chemistry lecture (CHEM 329 and CHEM 331), two semesters of Organic Chemistry lab (CHEM 330 and CHEM 332), two semesters of General Physics with lab (PHYS 185 and PHYS 186), and two semesters of English composition (ENG 190 and a JINS course).

Depending on your interests, you may also have additional math, biology, and biochemistry requirements.

There is no specific pre-law curriculum because law schools encourage students to experience a wide range of disciplines. Law schools are more interested in outstanding undergraduate study that includes coursework in critical and logical reasoning, written and verbal argumentation, and creative thinking. Classes in English, history, economics, statistics, accounting, computer science, math, logic, sociology, psychology, and philosophy, to name a few, develop the skills that law schools are looking for.