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How to not get ripped off academically your senior year: A peer adviser’s cautionary tale

Collegiettes, I have a lot of things I don’t really like to do, such as get out of bed or study for finals, but one of my least favorite things has to be the awful duty of telling people something that ruins their day. Yep, being the bearer of bad news is not a pleasant place to be. However, as an adviser it is sometimes my unfortunate job to tell someone, or several people, that they will not be able to graduate when they had originally hoped or planned. Talk about a downer. The crushing moment of realization is not a pretty sight to behold, whether you are the one experiencing your collegiate career crashing down around you or just a bystander. I have seen students miss graduation deadlines, be blindsided by multicultural requirements, and in some cases even miss the credit requirement by as little as two credits.

Ladies, do not let this happen to you!

Here are three hints to help you out:

Get to know your peer advisers

Don’t know who these people are? Well, they are probably very lonely and would like for you to come talk to them! Peer advisers are junior and senior students who are academically qualified to work as undergrad representatives for a particular major. While not every major offers this service, peer advisers usually have offices adjacent to the major office. They are like junior academic advisers in the sense that they can help you look at your degree audit, recommend classes for you to take, steer you toward a particular focus, and possibly even tutor you. They can do almost anything your regular undergrad advisor can do, so don’t waste your time waiting in line or trying to catch your regular adviser’s bizarre office hours - see if the peer advisers can help! Undeclared? Go to Academic Advising in Oregon Hall; they’re usually really great!

Watch out for the group requirements!

I have seen so many degree audits where students will have six or seven credits that fulfill a particular group requirement, such as Arts and Letters, but have not fulfilled the requirement because they are all from different subject codes! It breaks my heart to see something as simple as this derail graduation plans. Make sure that you take at least three classes per group requirement, with at least two classes from the same subject code, and at least one from a different subject code. Furthermore, remember that only ONE class that counts toward your major will count toward your group requirement so that you’re not surprised when all your precious English credits weren’t as helpful as you thought they were going to be (double-dipping? Ha! That’s what you think!)

Transfer or Study Abroad Credit? Be prepared to prove it!

In addition to my advising, I transferred to the UO through an exchange process, which means I have seen all the pretty and the ugly ends of the credit transfer system. I have seen credits magically multiply before my eyes and I have been frustrated at prerequisite requirements. However, for all the ups and downs in my own experience, there is another person who has ten more stories like mine; horror stories of study-abroad credits gone mysteriously missing, miscellaneous transfer credits that should be factored into group requirements, GPA mismatches, and so forth. I’m not trying to say that the system is out to get you; their guidelines are very clearly defined. However, you should know where every single credit of yours is going, and probably have something to prove it. If there’s something on your audit that doesn’t match up, ask! You may be pleasantly surprised or rudely awakened.  

I would really appreciate not having to ruin people’s days, thank you very much, so don’t let your holidays be overshadowed by a delay in your plans! Take charge of your degree today!

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