December 12, 2012

The Final(s) Countdown...

Just in time for Thursday’s Reading Day, Dean Frosh tweeted the grad students in the College Student Affairs program asking for their best tips for finals. Take a short break in your finals prep and heed their excellent advice:

@raylefko Take study breaks to recharge and clear your head. Those 15 mins can make all the difference!

@abbyrstern Find a study buddy with same priorities and a similar schedule. Also, break down assignments into smaller pieces. Be positive!

@MikeatRU  Use technology to your benefit! Use block Facebook for a set amount of time.

@sillybanina Take breaks and schedule time for fun and relaxation in between lengthy study sessions. :)

@CLKuski Pick 4 people in class & meet as a study group--you're blocking out study time & you can answer each others' questions

@NicoPontico  My finals tip= Do your own preparation before studying with a group. Your time will be more productive!

@SASadvising Yes! And you can make a list of topics or concepts you're still not clear on to ask the group!

@raylefko Agreed! Study groups are great reinforcement, not a substitute for your own learning.

@raylefko Think positive thoughts. If you assume you won't do well what's the point of studying anyway?

@MikeatRU Reward yourself for accomplishing goals (both big goal and small goals).

Thanks to Rachel Jimenez, Nina Duong, Nicole Ponticorvo, Charles Kuski, Abby Stern, and Mike McCormack for tweeting your wisdom!

November 30, 2012

Frosh Survival Tips

We have a guest blogger today: Dean Christine Bonny, who has been a general adviser at SAS and University College for the past ten years. She offers great Frosh Survival Tips for students as you approach finals and spring semester:

Over the years, undergrads have shared many great survival tips – tips that I can now happily pass on to you. Here are four such tips that are consistently important year after year.

You may discover that your previous study habits have been insufficient at Rutgers.  The most often mentioned successful “new” study habit by students is to read and complete assignments in advance of each lecture.  To learn how to shed old study habits and cultivate consistent and measured habits, visit one of our Learning Centers for academic coaching and tutoring. 

SAS advisors will give you advice on finalizing your spring 2013 registration, discuss your potential majors and minors, plan a graduation date, and answer your questions.

Call any of four SAS Advising Centers to schedule a General Advising appointment.   
Stay connected with us on Facebook and Twitter.

If you find yourself struggling through personal issues – a break-up, family issues, isolation or you just need someone to talk to, reach out for Counseling Services.

Contact CAPS to set up an appointment with a professional. 


Visit a Rutgers Health Center for both preventative health care and routine medical care.
Visit a Rutgers Recreation Center for information on fitness programs.

Use the many resources Rutgers has and please feel free to pass on more tips.

Make Friends & Stay Active - excellent Frosh Survival Tips
from Connie Fiocco & her Rutgers Games teammates

November 18, 2012

You Never Forget Your First Time: Advice for your first time registering

Photo courtesy of Flikr user splineapple
Spring registration is here, and Dean Frosh has words of wisdom and registration tips to help our new first year students.

The most common (printable) word used to describe your first encounter with webreg is FRUSTRATING. Most first year students register on Nov. 19 and 20. Experience tells us that Webreg will struggle under the weight of that many students. Be patient.

Remember that registration is a process. That means the first day that you can register is the FIRST day, but not the LAST day you will register. You'll have access to webreg from that
first day through winter break. Remember, too, the add/drop week at the beginning of spring semester to finalize your schedule.

A few quick points to help:
Prepare well. Carefully review the Schedule of Classes to see how to make the best use of online resources like Degree Navigator, the Course Schedule Planner and Webreg.

Before or after you register, come for advising. If you can't see an adviser before your first day to register, come for advising after - get an adviser's opinion on your plans and advice on getting into classes or making changes.
Advising appointments are available through finals and even into Winter break!
Dean Matt Winkler advising an SAS student

The Schedule of Classes is not live, so it may show a course as Open when the seat has been filled because it has not yet updated.
Once you've clicked the button to "Add Courses," wait patiently for the system to respond. Continued clicking of the button will anger the registration gods and will likely result in your being logged out.
For most courses and prerequisites, webreg is accurate. If webreg tells you that you do not have the prereq, check the class listing again. If you're still unclear, call or stop by your local SAS advising office. If it’s between 10-11 p.m. on your registration night and you’re having a problem, check out the Academic Services homepage, deans may be on the new LiveChat feature and may be able to help!
There are 14 learning goals to complete in the SAS Core. If you can't get into a course you planned to fulfill one (or multiple) goal(s), look for other Core areas. Or do something really crazy, like take a course just because you're interested in the topic. Not every course has to be a Core, major, or minor course! Don't forget about elective credits. And don't worry, Public Speaking is offered every semester and will be a great option eventually.
Remember also to check out the Byrne Seminar listings; spring semester is your LAST chance to take a Byrne, so don't miss the opportunity.
And, again, if all else fails, plan to stop in to one of the SAS Advising Offices between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. for help!

October 19, 2012

Hunting the Elusive Backup Plan

Cartoon courtesy of
We here at the Froshblog meet lots of students who purposely avoid creating a Backup Plan. They have Plan A. But, ask them about other options or what they'll do if Plan A doesn't work, and they either stare at you blankly, or look like you like you’re Voldemort. Why are "exploration" and "backup plan" dirty words?

Some students are legitimately unsure of what other options they have. Some are employing the "head in the sand" method of ignoring that there are other options. Others believe that by formulating a backup plan, they'll somehow undercut their main goals. That's like not saving for retirement because you're afraid to jinx your chances of winning the lottery.

Seriously, though, there is a common misperception that if you create a backup plan or try other options, then you are not committed to plan A. Premed students are probably the biggest offenders of this way of thinking, but it happens across many majors and career goals. But, think about it:

If you were on an admissions committee, wouldn't you be more interested in a student who had tried different options, come to a greater understanding of themselves and possible careers, and THEN chosen medicine for all the right, realistic reasons?

Photo by flickr user
through Creative Commons license
When students proclaim, "I've wanted to be a doctor since I was 4," they think they are communicating the depth of their devotion.  Instead, I wonder why they think their perceptions of medicine at such a young age would have anything to do with the realities of the profession. What they see as admirable focus, I experience as willful blinders. I’ll take an informed decision over blind devotion any day. And so will every medical school admissions committee.

As one of our colleagues likes to say, adults have backup plans. We live in a rapidly changing world where even all the best planning and preparation may not ensure we get everything we desire, and where new opportunities are created every day. If you're ready to take a look around, consider meeting with your academic adviser, attending the Major Fair, completing the online Career Assessments, even consulting O*Net for career information. If nothing else, the view is better when your head is out of the sand.

October 5, 2012

Down & Dirty Advice from the Deans

In the mudder that is your college career, you are going to encounter tons of obstacles and opportunities. In the semester-long lap, we are now at the four-week mark, and you should be shifting from “just beginning” to “picking up the pace” as exams and papers are coming due.

So, for this week’s Fill in the Blank Friday, we decided to wipe the proverbial mud from our eyes and look ahead by looking back. We asked the SAS Advising Deans to fill in the blank:
“Looking back, I wish I had ________ when I was in college.”

…taken more Art and Music classes - Dean Van Riper
…taken advantage of internships - Dean Arroyo
…gotten more involved in student organizations - Dean Kieval Brill
…studied more, partied more, worried less - Dean Patterson
…mastered a foreign language! - Dean Diamond
…taken more courses outside my major - Dean Spear
…learned something about Art History - Dean Traxler

passed calculus the first time! - Dean Bruning

…spent more time getting to know my professors - Dean Delauro

And the Number 1 answer, given by nine of the SAS advising deans:
Remember, it’s a long race and you don’t want to miss anything. Take time to consider your opportunities and obstacles, and plan to take advantage of all that Rutgers has to offer!

(Thanks to Minna & Kenny, proud Scarlet Knights, for use of their pics!)

September 28, 2012

Fill in the Blank Friday

Students these days feel tremendous pressure to, well, fill in their blanks. Blanks like: I’m majoring in_____________, or I have a summer internship lined up at___________.
Classmates in the dining hall, family around the Thanksgiving table, and high school friends add to the pressure by asking the same questions.
These questions are really asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” While we at the froshblog don’t necessarily think you should already know that answer, it is important to start to define what you’re good at, what you enjoy studying, and how these things intersect and build the foundation for the person that you are becoming.
It is also important to acknowledge that the person you dreamt of being might be very different than the person you’re growing into….and that’s ok.  Don’t be so eager to fill in your blanks that you make a decision based on the person you used to be; you are evolving, and it’s ok if your academic and professional interests are evolving, too!
The First Year Deans share their own experiences with this question in a special edition of “Fill in the Blank Friday”!

Dean Traxler and her sons, Tyler and Ryan
What was your intended major entering college?  English and Journalism – I loved to write!

What was your major when you graduated from college?  English and Journalism, but I did try out other options like Psychology and Communication

How did your real major better prepare you for being an advising goddess? I learned that my majors didn’t have to trap me in specific careers like teaching or being a newspaper reporter.  My writing and close reading skills are really useful in my work at the university and with students, even though I discuss major options instead of Jane Eyre. I had the faith that the classes and majors I loved would eventually lead me to meaningful work, but I never could have anticipated finding and loving academic advising as a career! 

Dean Stanzione and her daughter, Ella Rose
What was your intended major entering college?  Marine Science, with hopes of going to graduate school to study shark reproduction (Seriously!).

What was your major when you graduated from college?  Environmental Policy, Institutions and Behavior

How did your real major better prepare you for being an advising goddess? I’ve always been interested in people: in our motivations, our assumptions, and how we react individually to common circumstances. I enjoyed the EPIB classes, which balanced my passion for science with my strength in examining human responses and cultural practice. But the process of deciding my major molded me as a scholar and adviser just as much as, if not more than, the coursework itself.  Learning what I do well, examining why I do it, and respecting how my decision-making was a process  became clear in college, but I use these skils in my personal and professional life. It is my great pleasure that I get to be part of this same conversation in the lives of our students, whether you are certain of your path or interested in paving a new one.

Dean Zipkin and her daughter, Luna
What was your intended major entering college?  Biochemistry, with hopes of curing cancer and AIDS.

What was your major when you graduated from college?  Psychology. And then 7 years after I graduated, I returned to complete an English major because I wanted to be a high school English teacher.

How did your real major better prepare you for being an advising goddess? For as long as I’ve had to think about what I wanted to be when I grew up, all of my possible responses have had to do with helping people. I chose Psychology because gave me a relevant background to do that. I enjoyed learning about the biological and behavioral factors that influence who we are and how we present ourselves to the world. I’m not sure how much the coursework in my major prepared me for this role, but the varied path I took to get to that major certainly prepared me for being able to step into the shoes of students that might be asking themselves the same questions I asked myself when I was in college.

September 21, 2012

The Woeful Tale of the W: What does it all mean?

Ask undergrads about a Withdrawal on a transcript and you get a cacophony of horror stories, half-truths, misunderstandings and scare tactics.  

Let's clear the air by first setting straight what the W does NOT stand for:
Worst Thing EVER!
“That means you were failing the class!” “Maybe I should take the F instead of the W?!”
WHOA, now you have to rethink ALL of your goals!
           “OMG, you’ll never get into Med school!”
Warning, this student is a loose cannon!
           "If you withdraw from a class it shows that you can't handle it."

Here are some TRUTHS with a capital T:
When:  A W is applied to the transcript when a student drops a class after add/drop but before the final withdrawal period of the semester.  It does not go into the GPA.
No graduate programs (law schools, med schools, etc) use the W when they are evaluating your record.
No employers use the W to evaluate you when they are hiring.
Why do student drop courses?
They are no longer interested in the subject
They got a new opportunity (job, internship) and want to free up more time in their schedule
They don’t like the professor
The professor doesn’t like them
They need more time to focus on life or family or financial issues
They get into a class that they like better but it’s late in the add/drop period
And sometimes…
They drop because they are struggling in the class

Okay, so then..
What purpose does the W serve?
The university and departments need the W to track seats in classes and enrollment for an accurate review of class trends and sizes. For example, some classes fill quickly and are closed at the beginning of the semester. During the semester, students may drop the class (for lots of reasons – see above) and without the W, it would give a false impression that there was space available in that class. Departments base their plans for how many sections to run for each class on this information.

For more on the W, enjoy last year's Mythbuster post.

September 11, 2012

Of Calendars & Planners

So, after one week of classes it should be dawning on you that there are a lot of things to remember - exams, papers, projects, homework - for four or five or six classes. And unlike high school, where you got daily reminders from teachers (and parents), now it's on you to keep track of it all. You may find yourself asking “How do I prioritize when every class/assignment is a priority?!”

The other big change that requires you to step-up your organization game is that the pace of a semester is completely different than marking periods. This change may not be obvious now, but often rears its head around mid-terms. Think about it: a semester is 15 week long, so in a class whose grade is primarily based on one midterm and one final, you may not know how you’re doing until you’ve been in class for 7 weeks – almost half the class! If you fall behind, you risk not catching up!

This is a good time to consider how you organize your time and efforts. We here at the SASfroshblog will endorse pretty much any organizational system that doesn't involve making notes on gum wrappers or grocery receipts - BUT everyone needs a system. In other words, we want to encourage you to find a way to get organized that you can work...not necessarily the one that works for your roommate, or the planner that you bought because it had puppies on the cover. We’re talking about life management techniques that you can sustain and adhere to for more than a few weeks. Here are some suggestions of useful tools:

1.  Smartphone - Use the calendar function on your phone. Or download an organizer App. The phone is also useful for setting reminders of weekly events like online homework submission.
      Works well for: those who have trouble breathing if they haven't checked their phone in, like, 10 minutes

2.  Paper planner book – Pick up a daily or weekly planner at the bookstore and carry it everywhere, recording all of your important dates. The bonus here is that a planner gives you a reason to buy pens in different, cool colors.
Works well for: those who love paper and pen and physically turning pages (see also: Luddites, technophobes)

  3.  Desk blotter calendar pages – This big calendar is great for the long view; at a glance, you can see a full month's assignments, which is useful for effectively planning time and balancing classes. Plus, assignments don't sneak up on you like they can if you haven't flipped the page to next week. This option also comes in a handy dry-erase version for those of you who are conservationists at heart.
      [One particularly creative student used duct tape and color-coded post-it notes to create her own calendar on the wall of her room.]
Works well for: those who like a broad overview, and who have wall space to accommodate three months of pages (and a tolerant roommate)

Again, we don't care HOW you organize yourself, but find something that works for you - and START NOW!

Some web resources:
Ru-tv segement on Time Management
10 Steps to Organization at College

September 3, 2012

Something Old, Something New
When we do something new, we’re attentive, on guard, and ready to deal with the unexpected. When we do something that we already know how to do, we’re often not as focused because we are confident in our abilities. But sometimes, what we think we know may have changed – simply because we are doing it in a new place.  
Let me give you an example. I learned to ski in my twenties in New Jersey – and I loved it. Then, my now-husband suggested that we go to Vermont to ski. I was excited – I knew how to ski. At Killington, two lifts and a gondola later, we stood at the top. As I stared down that huge, huge, huge mountain, I thought, Wait, I DON’T know how to ski! What I thought I understood about skiing had changed completely – because the place had changed. All of my assumptions about the activity were wrong.
I was prepared for this: 

And I encountered this:

I always think about that experience when I’m talking with new Rutgers students, because our students are good students. They’re smart, and they’ve often accomplished amazing things in high school. But, many students come to college without thinking about how the location changes the activity - and what challenges that change may create. The mountain has gotten bigger, the slopes steeper, the work more demanding. And unlike me, standing at the top of that mountain, my students may not see the difference immediately.
So, how can you prepare to meet the challenges of becoming a successful college student?
Step 1: Think about yourself as a student. Did you have to work hard and learn to study to succeed in high school? If so, you already have building blocks for success. If not, college may require skills that you have not yet developed. Your old habits (cramming before a test, taking sketchy notes, memorizing everything) may not support your new challenges.
Step 2: Focus on the differences. College work requires much more learning time outside of the classroom, so prepare to carve out study time in your schedule.  Homework may not be assigned or mandatory, so how can you motivate yourself to do supplemental work to fully master the material? Reading the assigned chapters once and attending lectures is the beginning, not the end, of the work.
Step 3: Seek expert advice on campus. See your academic adviser ( to discuss the rigor of your schedule, see your professors at office hours to review the course material, and use the Learning Centers ( for tutoring, test-taking tips, or study skills. Talk with upper-level students to learn their secrets to success at college.  
Step 4: Give yourself a break. A new transition takes time and energy. Don’t expect to adapt immediately. Many first year students get an NP (no pass) on their first Expository Writing paper. Once you recognize that grades and professor feedback help you identify where your assumptions may be wrong, you’re ready to adapt your skills to be more effective at the new challenge.

April 27, 2012

Post-Registration Blues

Let me guess, registration for the fall semester didn’t quite go as planned? You used the Course Schedule Planner (or good old paper and pen) to create the ideal schedule. You were excited for the fall semester. Then, you logged into WebReg and your classes were closed! Your life plans are shot, right?
Not even a little bit!
It will all be ok. Take a deep breath or a walk, then come back and read this post. Don’t worry, Dean Frosh will wait for you……
seriously, how far did you go?...
Ok, welcome back! Dean Frosh hopes you feel a little better, and if you don’t yet, hopefully you will after reading this post.
Remember that registration is a process.  Did you know that this registration period is actually called “pre-registration”? We give students the opportunity to start working on their schedule now, but most students will continue to work on that schedule through the first week of the semester (the add/drop period). It’s rare for someone to get their ideal schedule during pre-registration.

Here are some thoughts to help you feel better about what just happened:
Be patient. Dean Frosh knows your first instinct is to run to the department or instructor to plead your case for a special permission number. Keep in mind that most departments are going to deny requests at this point. Here’s why:

1.       During pre-registration, some students will register for anything that’s open just to get to 12 credits, but have no intention of keeping all of those courses. So seats will open up.
2.       Students’ plans change over the summer and they drop classes that are no longer needed. So seats will open up.
3.       Students are taking a class in the summer but register for it in the fall to hold a spot in that class “just in case.” Those students will adjust their schedules when their summer class ends, and seats will open up.
4.       WebReg allows students to register for classes if they’re in the prerequisite now, or registered for the prereq in the summer at Rutgers. The sad reality is that some students will not pass the prerequisite and will be dropped, and seats will open up.
5.       Spaces in some courses (including Signature courses) are held for incoming students. Once those students have registered, any remaining seats will be available to all students. Don’t get mad, we did this for you, too! And it means that seats will open up.
6.       Some departments restrict courses or sections of courses to certain schools or majors. Once those students have been given ample time to register, the restrictions will be lifted, and seats will open up.
Dean Frosh has just shown you six ways that seats will open up. For these reasons, most departments wait to grant special permission numbers.

Be flexible. Dean Frosh knows there are some really popular classes here; but she also knows those classes aren’t the only games in town. If you planned to take a class that was certified for some area in the Core curriculum, consider fulfilling a different learning goal instead. You can always plan to take that original class in a different semester!
And Dean Frosh has a crazy thought: take an elective. Incoming students at SAS are given 120 credits that they must spend in order to graduate. It is a credit gift card; each student can spend those credits as they wish, but they all must be spent. Everyone spends a portion of those credits on their major, their minor, and the Core. BUT, almost everyone will still have a balance. In other words, most students NEED to spend credits on things that don’t seem to fit into any requirement area so that they can graduate.
What to do now?
1.       Don’t panic. Or if you are still feeling worried, come to speak to a reference dean at one of the Advising Centers (
2.       If you aren’t registered for a full-time course load of at least 12 credits, do that by the end of next week. You should create a schedule that contains classes that you would be happy taking next semester if your original selections don’t open up.
Check the Schedule of Classes daily to see if spaces open up. WebReg is open all summer, so you can make changes then, too!

April 10, 2012

When Roads Diverge...

You, like many students, may be experiencing moments of doubt about whether your college is the right “fit” for you.  These moments of confusion may be a result of different causes: social, financial, familial, emotional, academic, etc., but they all represent opportunities to clarify your reasons for being here. While most students will emerge from this time with a recommitment to Rutgers and their college education, some do not – and that’s OK!  We want all students to succeed by their own measure of success; if that means taking a break or reaching your goals elsewhere, we want to help you make that process as seamless as possible. 

First, think about why you are considering leaving. Are you moving closer to home? Pursuing other vocational/academic plans? Or just looking for a better “fit” overall?  It is important for you to consider all your reasons to ensure you’re making the best choice for you. It can be helpful to discuss your options with an academic adviser, so consider scheduling an appointment (  

If your decision is to take a Leave of Absence from Rutgers, you need to let us know:

Complete the Leave of Absence/Withdrawal Form on our website at  Indicate whether you are taking a leave of absence or withdrawing from the university:
                        Looking to transfer to another school = Withdrawal

Looking to withdraw from Rutgers for an indefinite amount of time (i.e., “I’m not sure what I will do but for now, I need a break”) = Leave of Absence

Looking to take a leave for a specific amount of time and then return = Leave of Absence (with return date indicated)

Take that form to one of the SAS Advising offices, and a dean will check it over, answer your questions, and wish you the best of luck in your endeavors! From there, you’ll need to contact all offices that may be affected by your withdrawal (for example, if you have a meal plan, you’ll need to cancel it at Dining Services).  *The offices are listed on the form as a checklist to guide you. 

If you are taking a Leave of Absence but plan to take courses at your local community college, we can show you how to do get courses preapproved to ensure that those credits transfer back to Rutgers.

If you plan to transfer to another school within Rutgers University, follow the School-to-School Transfer process:

With over 90 majors and nearly 100 minors at the School of Arts and Sciences, we do offer a lot, but certainly not everything!  For majors offered by the following schools, you would be required to transfer:
SEBS (unless it’s a second major to an SAS major)
Mason Gross School of the Arts (you can pursue any of these majors as an SAS student for the BA degree, but must transfer to complete the BFA program)

For admissions criteria, requirements, and deadlines for the School-to-School transfer, visit:  If you have any questions specific to the school that you are transferring, you’ll want to contact the school.

FYI: All majors in the Schools of Social Work, Management and Labor Relations, Communication, and Public Policy, do NOT require that you switch schools. You will only need to declare the major (or apply to the major, in some cases).  For example, you can stay an SAS major and major in Journalism and Media Studies, even though it’s offered by the School of Communication and Information.

 We know that this can be confusing; it’s a great topic to clarify in an advising appointment!